Welcome to the new home for my blogs. I do hope that my loyal followers will join me at my new site and that I’ll pick up some new friends along the way as I continue to explore the world of learning. Moreover, as MindLeaders is sadly no more, I will no longer be constrained in my outpourings, so who knows what will appear here.
My apologies if the next paragraph at first sight seems largely nonsensical, but I want to skip ahead just a couple of years and imagine what a learning journey might look like.
Learners will have started their journey in a “flipped” classroom. Having completed their EBacc, of course, they would not even have considered the boring old bricks and mortar university (now only available to the super rich). Instead they will have gone straight into work and chosen either to study for one of the new Degree Apprenticeships or opted for a MOOC. At work, their learning will take place through a variety of ESNs or PLNs.
So let me start to decipher some of this “learning-speak”. The concept of a “flipped” classroom is rapidly gaining momentum thanks to the remarkable rise of the Khan Academy and other video-based learning platforms. If you are not yet acquainted with the Khan Academy, then do Google it and take a look and before you write it off, remember it now has huge financial backing from the likes of Bill Gates and others.
The flipped classroom is based on the premise that our current education methodology ( teacher imparts some knowledge during a lesson; students develop understanding through homework) is incredibly inefficient. The Khan approach is that knowledge is transferred at home via video thereby freeing up lessons for developing understanding. The “teacher” can then provide support on an individual basis when and where it is needed. “Homework” gets done because support is immediately available rather than being dumped in frustration when mum or dad don’t know the answer either. It’s a simple yet brilliant concept and whilst of course there are all sorts of practical problems, the internet is now full of articles and blogs about the value this approach is bringing to the classroom.
I have blogged before about MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) and hardly a day seems to pass without yet another prestigious university signing up to a MOOC problem. Whilst I’m a massive fan of the concept, I’m still not convinced that every university course can be “mooced” and I’m not sure whether they will remain totally free for ever, but there is no longer any question that they are here to stay and that they will soon represent genuine alternative to bricks and mortar universities. Equally, the whole Apprenticeship programme is clearly moving in the direction of Higher and Advanced Level Qualifications thereby representing another genuine alternative to traditional university education.
Finally, I have no doubt that the move towards informal or social learning as the main method of ongoing workplace training, will continue to gather pace. Of course by its very nature, this form of learning is collaborative and will need to be captured and shared. The concept of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) is therefore rapidly gaining ground. Groups of people with similar interests or learning objectives will gather together via a standard social networking platform much as Twitter or Google +, Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) such as Yammer or new platforms such as Ning, designed specifically to manage PLN (Radiohead use Ning so it must be good!)
So where do all of these developments leave traditional eLearning providers? It took eLearning nearly 30 years to establish itself as a genuine alternative to traditional classroom training, but the rate of change is now so great, that I would be surprised if it takes 30 months for the new social learning movement to become the preferred approach to learning. The idea of an individual sitting in front of a screen scrolling through a learning programme is dead in the water and any eLearning provider who continues along that path is, in David Byrne’s words, on The Road to Nowhere.
However, for those eLearning providers who are prepared to embrace rapid change, the new learning methodologies open up huge opportunities. Incorporating social learning concepts into eLearning programmes and Learning Management Systems is technologically not difficult. More tricky will be the change in mind-set necessary to make the initial leap.