Online learning tips the scales

The price of fuel seems to be driving an uptake in online learning for higher education. Ray Schroeder has even started a blog about Fueling Online Learning, which I discovered via George Siemens.

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.

One Response to “Online learning tips the scales”

  1. Toffler

    I agree, learning is a social process and the with rise of online social networks, that aspect of ‘learning in school’ is quickly being transformed. There is now far less need to go to school to engage in the process of social learning.

    Similarly, much as you said, even the course is becoming less important. The internet has radically transformed the way people learn. With the internet, peers can teach each other, self-study is increasingly being accepted and respected as a valuable way to learn, and we are learning in small digestible media-rich bits.

    All of these factors, have led to a number of up-and-coming web2.0 sites for online education. In the general category you have WizIQ, which is focused on personal development and 1-to-many teaching. In the K-12 category you have Global Scholar which seeks to help kids improve in their studies. And in the niche category, you have http://www.italki.com, which fosters P2P language learning, by allowing each person to be an expert and a teacher of their native language, whether that be through live voice language exchange or self-created lessons for learning a language.

    With improving technology, the continuing expansion of undersea cables (East Africa should have some w/in 2years), higher gasoline prices, and the need to keep one’s skills fresh and in demand, I expect the trend in online learning will continue at a furious pace.

    Reply

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