Do you think the internet’s courses are too ubiquitous? These sources say they’re only the beginning.
When Does Online Learning Become Popular
Today, the largest online learning companies, Coursera, Udacity, and edX, announced they’re partnering to expand the reach of their online programs. And if they can deliver more highly motivated students with ready cash in their pocket, that’s a bonus — and the futures of teachers who teach those students is looking especially bright.
Why has education gone online?
The need to engage with someone in real time isn’t something that’s new, either. Learning online is simply more effective than attending a lecture or book club where you’re only dealing with hand-written notes. It’s definitely more efficient: With many online courses, you learn in a fraction of the time it would take you to learn at a college, and more effectively than you’d teach in the classroom.
Additionally, online classrooms provide instant feedback, allowing you to see exactly how the other students are studying and ensuring your work is on track. Students don’t have to go through homework troubleshooting or argue over what’s the right thing to write in a public forum. They also don’t have to spend time trying to type or Google answers to the most important question of all: what is my specific field of study?
When courses become less popular does that affect the quality of their content?
Scratch Online, a new education platform that combines traditional classroom and online courses, would say no.
And John Gianvito, editor-in-chief of edX News and a former UMass Amherst professor and department chair, says that the quality of the online courses he’s seen on that platform and at a high school online curriculum we work with is always of high quality.
But there is one issue that remains.
“While the number of courses has grown over the past three to four years, there’s a dearth of administrators with experience teaching online content, so students haven’t always had a level playing field,” Gianvito told me.
Now, with Coursera, Udacity, and edX teaming up, they’re reaching hundreds of thousands of potential students through the two online platforms each month.
What’s more, these online platforms are the backbone of a new generation of personalized learning platforms. This includes Learnable, an online platform that integrates the content available through Coursera with the feedback, suggestions, and feedback students receive from the instructors.
Case in point: An analytics feature on Learnable tracks student performance and feedback and provides customized content that is tailored to individual needs. The end result is a user-friendly platform that allows students to focus solely on their content — whether they’re studying English, Mandarin, or others — and doesn’t distract from their work.
They also have a data management tool, that provides an analytics dashboard that enables them to analyze and troubleshoot student issues.
However, this assumes that all of the professors are equally effective and that all of the students are taking the online classes to work toward a final that is recognized by the university. The problem is, the bulk of the students in UMass Amherst, for example, aren’t taking online courses — they’re taking CX classes, and as a result, don’t receive any value in feedback or outcomes based on the feedback they receive in their course.
Still, students from universities across the country are in favor of online courses.
When Coursera, Udacity, and edX announced their collaboration, one top ten school official said the announcement “made sense.”
“Our students increasingly want to be equipped with the tools to earn degrees in a fast, innovative, and different environment, and an online degree from UMass is not going to be the only option,” said Simon Curley, associate provost for international, according to the news release.
Susan Eleftheriou, the former dean of the College of Education at UMass Amherst, also celebrated the announcement.
“Having more and larger options for students in higher education opens up the possibilities of learning-in-context across disciplines and should be welcomed with open arms,” she said.
The professor, as you may already know, co-authored, with Steve Brody and Don Stewart, Learning-by-Instant.
What’s also interesting is that Coursera and Udacity are seeing strong growth internationally:
The growth in enrollment at Coursera in India, the U.K., South Korea, Canada, and Brazil is in line with growth in other regions, said Stonecipher.
In any case, the lesson to take away here is to get over the fear of whether or not online coursework is effective, valuable, and engaging. If your