A Massachusetts Institute of Technology task force forecast that “modularization” will be the next big thing for higher education. The group’s final report said using the approach of Apple iTunes, which allows users to purchase music in bits and pieces, will play an important part in improving web-based learning and massive open online courses (MOOCs).
The report said breaking courses into units that are in sequence but can be studied separately can make the work more accessible and affordable for students. It would also add “malleability” and “fluidity” to online learning, which could help address the issue of low completion rates for MOOCs.
The task force advised that modularization would require an online place where students could find and download the necessary materials for the course. It should use tags and filters to make it easier for faculty and students to work with the repository.
“The way in which students are accessing material points to the need for the modularization on online classes whenever possible,” the task force wrote in its final report. “This in many ways mirrors the preferences of students on campus. The unbundling of classes also reflects a larger trend in society—a number of other media offerings have become available in modules, whether it is a song from an album, an article in a newspaper, or a chapter from a textbook. Modularity also enables ‘just-in-time’ delivery of instruction, further enabling project-based learning on campus and for students worldwide.”