The infographic below (produced by OnlineUniversities.com) contains some interesting data that lends considerable weight to the argument that we are now in the midst of a major paradigm shift in the higher education space.
I was also pleased to see that there is no reference to ‘lecturer’ or ‘instructor’ (or even ‘teacher!). This is a major gripe of mine as despite the increasingly technology-enabled, learner-centric environment we work in, many of us don’t seem to be able to let go of the old terms and labels. Is it appropriate to use words like these when they connote a very different type of pedagogy?
Also, why do we persist with the ‘e’-prefix? This might have been apt in the 1990s, but e-learning just seems so passé to me. Around the time the term arose, we also used to talk about e-banking, and nowadays people just talk about doing their banking. Maybe it’s time we also just talked about learning.
Image source: mobl21.com
I spoke with a group of training professionals at a large company last week and, for the first time in a long time, I found myself presenting the argument that there is more interactivity in an online class than in a face-to-face (F2F) class. I’ve had to do this on many occasions over the years, but I hadn’t realised that this question had all but disappeared off the radar.
That so few people now would venture to suggest this in the post-Web 2.0 era is testimony, perhaps, to the maturity of online learning. But it’s not just about the increasing popularity of social networking per se. The growing sophistication of handheld devices — or what we used to call ‘mobile phones’ — has added fuel to the social media fire, such that connectivity and interaction levels have reached fever pitch.
In an F2F setting, interaction will always be limited to the number of people who can talk at once. In an online setting, numerous conversations take place concurrently, more people can participate, and they participate with people they perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have participated with.
This is facilitating student engagement on a scale few educators could have dreamt of just a few years ago — myself included. I poured scorn on the idea that anyone would want to read a large amount of text from a mobile device, but then that was before iPhones and iPads, and the advent of ‘the App’. Astonishingly, Apple now claims to have 140,000 apps in the App Store, and some 40,000 of these are educational apps.
On the day the world learned that Steve Jobs had logged out for the final time, it is fitting to comment on one of his many legacies. It has been estimated that by 2015, more people will be accessing the Internet via mobile devices than through PCs. The video clip above estimates it will be slightly earlier in 2014 but, frankly, I’d be amazed if it takes this long.
In the education industry, the possibilities are boundless. The launch of the $35 tablet this week is as big piece of news on disruptive innovation as there is likely to be for a while, with there now being a real chance of doing something positive about the education of the rural poor in India. Just as Indians leap-frogged landlines and went straight to mobile telephony, I expect the same to happen in terms of mass mobile connectivity to the Web, with huge consequences for economic development.
Without doubt, the iPhone and the iPad have revolutionised they way we access the Internet, and I think without the Jobs ‘Apple-coolness’ factor, this may not have happened, or at least not proceeded as quickly as it might.
iThankyou Mr Jobs.
The latest version of the Social Media Revolution by Socialnomics was uploaded to YouTube last week. Some of the statistics have been updated and there are a number of new slides. For me, the most compelling is the very first which simply reads: social media is not about technology. This is so true. I have been campaigning long and hard for several years now to drop the ‘e’ from e-learning. It’s just learning! It’s how we do things now … or at least it’s how our students do things. Social media to a digital native is as normal as pen and paper to a digital immigrant, and yet there is still resistance to the mainstreaming of social media for formal education purposes. The argument that students don’t have sufficient access to technology is starting wear a little thin. In the Sustainable Development and Competitive Advantage MBA class I delivered at Christ University in Bangalore, India, earlier this month, the students twittered about #SDCA so much, it was trending in Bangalore at one stage during the week. On the last day, without any notice, the students made videos documenting their learning outcomes, because 56 of the 57 people in the class either had video capability on their hand held device or on their laptop.
Now here is a clever young bloke. Mike Matas — through his company Push Pop Press — has just launched a full-length interactive book for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch that includes swipeable video and graphics and some of the best data visualisations imaginable. The book is Our Choice, Al Gore’s sequel to An Inconvenient Truth.
There was a piece in the New York Times the other day which gave me cause to think that the iPad may not end up being the iFad that some people have suggested. A company called Inkling is setting the pace with an app that brings Web 2.0 functionality to textbooks. Aside from the ease of navigation, the lower ecological footprint from using less paper, and the portability factor (the weight of an iPad is 1.5lbs compared to the several stone’s worth of paper-based textbooks one accumulates over a semester or two), I think the really powerful aspect of this innovation is the interactive annotation tool. Reading textbooks need no longer be a solitary experience because Inkling provides learners with the capacity to leave notes for their classmates in specific areas of the book, and also view commentary from teachers. I predict that the digital natives will go for this in a big way. The key success factor will be the extent to which Inkling can grow its library of texts in a short period of time to get the critical mass it needs for this product to take-off.
Image source: ipattt.com
Joshua Kim wrote a thought-provoking piece in Inside Higher Ed yesterday, entitled The iPad and the LMS. He puts forward some pretty compelling arguments as to why the days of the browser based learning management system (LMS) might be numbered. Sentences that jumped out and bit me on the nose include:
Somewhat ironically, one of the emerging limitations of the browser application is a loss of certainty that the LMS can reliably deliver its content. As the browser world has split between IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, we are seeing different behaviors in each browser. Four browsers and numerous versions are just too many to test all features, or to make sure that rich media content always plays as it should
… this my own experience on a regular basis!
The danger is that our models for delivering education will fail to keep up with changes in how consumer and entertainment content is delivered. Books, movies, TV shows, magazine articles, newspapers – they will all move to the app.
… pre-iPhone, I would have been very skeptical, but App-powered m-learning is now a serious reality, and the advent of the iPad can only hasten this trend.