Shaking Up Online Education
In the past few years, associations and their members have been slowly but surely embracing online education. (ASAE will be publishing some new research on that shortly on its economy page.) So I took notice this week when the Chronicle of Higher Education published its list of 12 Tech Innovators, many of whom are trying to change how learning happens online. Among them:
- Jim Groom, a fierce booster of web-based learning that invites peer collaboration
- Candace Thille, whose Online Learning Initiative supports hybrid learning through team-built online modules, supporting classroom education while saving costs.
- Salman Khan, a promoter of self-guided video education
- Burck Smith, whose company, StraighterLine, partners with other companies to produce introductory online courses.
All different ideas, but a common theme emerges: Education is moving (perhaps rapidly) from a one-size-fits-all, lecture-based model to one that's more fluid and responsive to student input. Interviewees like Khan aren't saying that the classroom as we know it is dead, but the classroom lecture may be. Khan says his model has "made universities--and I can cite examples of this--say, Why should we be giving 300-person lectures anymore?"
Why indeed? Many association leaders might ask themselves the same question when it comes to their conferences or the education programs they support for certifications. (It's OK; you don't have to say that the first answer that popped in your head was a ka-ching! sound.) On the one hand, the authority of a lecturer, especially an in-person one, is valuable when it comes to presenting highly technical information. On the other, the flexibility of online courses can bring in more potential members, and perhaps even be a revenue driver. (Though according to Figure 17 of a white paper ASAE published last year on the economy, online education revenue hasn't matched execs' hopes for it.)
At first glance, Groom's DS106 project looks too chaotic to apply in an association context, but Thille's module-based Open Learning Initiative looks to be a smart, cleanly organized project. I know plenty of associations have been experimenting in this space, so what's working for you? What isn't?
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