How MOOCs and Digital Engagement Can Improve HBCU Experience
Our competitive, post-recession economy keeps penny-pinching and buck-saving routines ruling the land. Even in arenas like education, stretching, saving and maximizing funds are key. This doesn’t differ for students, teachers and supporters of HBCUs who must engage technology’s expansive reach to remain globally viable.
Insert opportunities for free knowledge. Other than self-charted ideological terrain and getting down with the Dewey Decimal System, MOOCs, “massive open online courses” raise eyebrows and expectations.
Created to offer free access to coursework from schools including MIT, Harvard, Stanford and other costly, prestigious institutions, many are overjoyed by the possibility to learn from and have brand association with schools ordinarily inaccessible to the masses. Academics widely discuss MOOCs. Critics remind MOOC-supporters that education is neither flat nor binary.
Education is not esoteric topic droning or regurgitating facts without making lessons usable. Knowledge is not something to volley between a hierarchically superior professor and a subordinated student.
It includes personal strategies and learning styles. It’s about mutual learning and understanding in addition to subject area and personal respect that students ought to afford their teachers. Likewise, teachers must respect their students.
Who and how we serve represent who and how we are.
Learning often includes using multimedia. The HBCU community can benefit tremendously from this kind of technological expansion. I’m not saying that we need some majority university’s stamp of approval to verify a quality education. But, between personal experiences, and interviews and conversations with people entrenched in all things HBCU, we must step our technological game up.
Whether students and professors choose to engage MOOCs, take more online classes in general or curate their own pedagogical content, moving toward digitization is a win across the board. Computers aren’t the heart of knowledge, but they are becoming ventricles.
“…Online tools and platforms, when deployed wisely and carefully, have the potential to enhance the great things the academy offers,” Siva Vaidhyanathan wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Through technological expansion we can hold near and dear the life, love and standards-based teachings from black schools, while remaining digitally and theoretically relevant.
Whether HBCUs immediately embrace MOOCs or make online communication better, school publications more accessible, or improve their wireless infrastructures as needed, students will be better served. The HBCU community will be able to sustain the essential charisma of HBCUs, with our scholarship, vivacious bands, provocative chants and robust campus communities.
Moving to a cleaner, greener, e-space is a tie and buy into the world of ideas that should be championed by black institutions that already boast countless reasons for students to apply, attend and graduate.
Being better digital communities will help us serve students within the Diaspora, of other nationalities, in addition to races and ethnicities, because as most people familiar with HBCUs know, they are not solely black American entities.
Through technological improvements and engagement we can truly have the best of all worlds. And as the web shapes exciting ways for people to interact with each other across borders, decreases paper costs, and plugs us into 24/7 learning cycles, we can give “the hook-up” new meaning.
Digest Columnist Imani Jackson is an award-winning journalist and mass communication graduate of Grambling State University. Currently a freelance writer, she served as editor-in-chief of The Gramblinite newspaper for two and a half years. Follow her @faithspeaks on Twitter.