I remember about a decade ago the discussions around the return on investment of online learning and the major factor was the reduction of travel time. You could save a LOT of money by not sending people on courses. However we learned that most people like to travel, get out of the office and socialize while learning. Some may even say that learning is a social endeavour.
So the scales may have finally tipped in favour of learning at a distance. Luckily for learners, there are a lot of social tools to add to the mix and a course doesn’t have to be a page-turning electronic book. Even if the institution only provides the content, learners can create study groups or plug into other networks, just avoid places like Ryerson if you intend on being a social learner.
Getting enough people wanting or needing to learn online should tip the scales toward more social learning. Perhaps we may escape the course/module constraint, especially as more workers use the Net for professional development. We, the pioneers in working and learning on the Web [check the header here], know the advantages of connecting to multiple networks and learning either serindipitously or just-in-time to solve a problem. It’s like water for fishes; we just do it.
As we get more online learners, let’s reach out and show them that it may not be easy but it’s possible to have rich learning experiences and meet some very interesting people online.