Saturday, December 03, 2011

Online learning - Should Education be learning the lessons from Business ?

I have a niggling doubt in my mind that I actually followed completely the wrong strand at the Online Educa Conference, which comes as quite a shock to me now!
Over the past 4 years at conferences on online education I have yet to discern that education has made the big leap forward into online learning....please hear me out before you jump to disagree. There have been great projects and groups of educators promoting the use of technology as a driver both for students and teachers. However at conferences it still appears that these moves are project based, and as such often finite even though they often make a valuable change in practice.
Presenter after presenter from higher education institutions were focusing on their work, often seemingly reinventing 'the wheel'  as far as pedagogically sound online learning. I chatted with the developer of a 2 year EU project which aims to improve the online skills of teachers, the project was offered with a maximum number of 600 teachers - 1700 applied (showing the perceived need) the project required its facilitators to become online practitioners through a five month training programme, which was then delivered to teachers over the same time scale. The result of the project was the production of 'open source' courses by many of the teachers concerned, I suspect that these teachers will be looking for their 'next step' .... however the project has now finished! My question was where does this go next? The answer will be a new project proposal......does this embed online learning in practice and make a significant change to the way teachers teach? I would suspect yes for those involved but further....no!

I believe that I should actually have visited the Business Strand of the conference as my perception is that business 'gets it' as far as online learning is concerned. This is often because they have large often geographically diverse groups of workers who they have to train in a standardised easily scalable way in order to ensure the upskilling of their workforce.......does this sound familiar? Large companies have made extensive use of online training over the past 5 years. It makes good sense from a QC ( quality control) and financial sense to them which as it affects the bottom line is a great driver of this method of training be it in an LMS or Virtual World.
Education has always been somewhat sceptical of business practices, however shouldn't we admit that the case for online learning is proven. Do we not now to adopt a paradigm for online training along the lines of a set of internationally agreed 'standards' for online learning developments and delivery?

I look forward to the time when we can move the discussion on to the next level.

Thank you for hearing my thoughts. I look forward to reflections.

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