I am attending a Summit later this week. The University Professional and Continuing Educational Association and the Association for Continuing Higher Education are co-hosting a sold out invitational meeting to consider the Future of Online Learning. Many dozens of learning leaders will be in attendence. I am looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say.
As a long-time online learning / elearning / distance learning / teletraining kinda gal, these kinds of events please me in an odd, parental sort of way. It is quite satisfying to see how over the past more than 25 years of grinding their way into teaching practice, learning technologies now routinely extend the reach of the traditional classroom. Online learning has tipped into mainstream consciousness, even if mainstream exceptance continues to be somewhat elusive.
Since I DO have some skin in this online learning game, let me tell you some of the things I hope we will hear about during the next few days:
- I hope we will hear that it is time to move past online learning as a technological analog of the traditional college classroom.
- I want us to talk openly about getting serious about high quality, online learning experiences that scale.
- I want to hear how more students will have the opportunity to achieve the dream of a college education.
- I want to hear more about the $10,000 degree. Or the $5,000 degree. Either one.
- I want to hear how we will make sure that online students can quit being ashamed to say they got their degree from an online school.
- I want to revisit how adult learners demonstrate that the knowledge they have accrued outside the classroom is a legitimate part of competency certification.
- I want to hear how the campus learning portal / LMS is being deployed in new and innovative ways,
- I want to hear how online learning professionals are going to use descriptive, inferential and predictive analysis of de-identified student records to better predict when students might benefit from a bit of extra help to stay on academic track.
- I want to hear how institutions are going to make online learning experiences more compelling, engaging, personalized and professionally relevant.
- I want to hear that there is room for informal collaborative learning moments in every student's program of study.
- I want to see more attention paid to interactive digital learning content - PDFs and digital textbooks, apps and learning objects - that students produce and publish.
- I want to understand how OER will sustain itself.
- I want to understand how mobility is changing the online learning game, and how social media bring real-time interpersonal interactivity to our conversations.
- I want to see the use of game mechanics and gamification extend our thinking about how to motivate and engage learners without turning games into the next generation of crappy elearning.
From everything I can see on that horizon these issues are all going to be part of the future of online learning. With respect, they are already part of the present. IMHO, it's time to make dealing with these issues part of our practice. Looking forward to what comes next.