The wise Ellen Wagner has a neat post about what should be the ‘ten commandments’ of online learning. I agree with them, and recommend them to you. I have thought about it in a slightly different, but similar frame.
I came up with this as I was trying to suggest what the core value propositions (yeah, I said it, deal with it) of an online offering should be. And I tried to frame it the way I thought Steve Jobs might:
- An absolutely killer learning experience
- We don’t just develop your understanding, we develop you
- We’re your partner for your success
What I mean by a killer learning experience is one that is engaging and effective, ie all the principles of Engaging Learning. It’s a pedagogy that’s challenging, meaningful, relevant, tightly coupled, and more. It’s also social, having you learn with others, not just on your own.
Developing the person means not only developing their knowledge of the topic, their degree, but also their success factors. That includes things like helping them develop a portfolio of work, developing skills in working with others, communicating, etc. In essence, layered on top of the domain knowledge are 21st century skills, which are likely to be the only lasting value you can provide learners (c.f. Father Guido Sarducci’s 5 Minute University).
And finally, it’s about not just providing the content and having the learner sink or swim, but instead actively looking at the learner’s performance, finding ways to scaffold the learning and being attentive to signals of potential trouble. It’s data-driven adaptivity to the individual learner, coupled optimally with human intervention. And competency-based, so the learner has clear indications of what they need to do.
We can do this, on a cost-effective basis, and I reckon it’s going to be the only sustainable differentiator to be a successful provider. The only question then becomes: who’s going to bring it all together? The market is waiting.