I was never one for classroom learning. It’s not surprising then that I was often kicked out of class, needed tutoring in some classes just to pass and didn’t go to University. But that hasn’t stopped me becoming a successful entrepreneur, a common theme you’ll find if you talk to enough people.
Had online learning been available to me as a high school student or Uni student however, I probably would have flourished. I did have a brain, I just didn’t learn well in a traditional environment. I know only too well I am a kinaesthetic learner. I need to be hands on or else it will be a case of ‘in one ear, and out the other’.
EARLY E-LEARNING PIONEERS
My first introduction to online learning was in 2001 when I engaged in a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course entirely online in preparation for a round the world trip where I figured teaching English could be a useful skill to have if I ever ran short of money.
This course was online modularised learning – reading key texts and then answering multi-choice as comprehension. I never met my tutor in person (though I did email them a few times when I got stuck) and I was able to motor on through the course in my lunch hours and after hours, successfully obtaining my ‘bit of paper’ so I could move on with my life. When I look back, i-to-I, who are still around to this day at http://www.onlinetefl.com were real pioneers in this space.
THE STAMPEDE TO BE EDUCATED
Knowing I am very interested in e-learning, recently one of my board of advisers recommended that I check out a TedX clip featuring a thought leader called Daphne Koller.
With Coursera, Daphne Koller and co-founder Andrew Ng are bringing courses from top colleges online, free, for anyone who wants to take them. Together they are challenging the top universities in the world to put their most intriguing courses online for free.
In watching her 20 minute video (which is featured below and which I highly recommend you take some time to check out) I was shocked to hear how in January this year in South Africa, a woman was trampled to death in a stampede at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa when people rushed towards the admissions office as a by-product of an overloaded education system. This year alone, more than 180,000 students will be turned away from the nation’s 21 public institutions, according to South Africa’s Times Live newspaper.
But the problem isn’t only in South Africa. In many populous, and often poor countries around the world, for many the opportunity to study has been a far off and unobtainable dream. Until now.
If Daphne and her team get her away, along with the growing movement of other company’s offering free or cheap courses online such as Udemy and Lynda.com, there is nothing stopping an impoverished villager in a shanty town of India accessing free education via a mobile phone, and for the first time in generations, having the opportunity to learn.
AN END TO TRADITIONAL LEARNING CENTRES?
The explosion in mobile communications in the developing world has created social and economic changes that have exceeded all expectations and predictions to date.
In a digital age where everything as we know it has been turned on its head, the way kindergarten aged children learn has transformed from pencil to iPads, and the way tertiary education is engaged in I predict will continue to migrate online and will make some massive social impacts.
After all if person A who is self-taught online via a free course on a mobile device shows much more knowledge and an aptitude to apply it, than person B who only went to University because they felt they had to, and Mummy & Daddy were paying anyway, which one will be more employable?
We’ve all heard much of what you learn in your early years at University will be obsolete by the time you graduate. Curriculum’s in many cases simply can’t keep up with the speed of change.
A commitment to continual life-long learning is therefore key, and online learning that you can engage in anywhere, anytime or a mobile device seems to be the way forward.
We’re joining the revolution and getting into online learning in a big way in 2013.
Some of our online offerings are ready to register for now.
Check them out here:
- Get Up To Speed Program – 12 weeks. Partially Government funded.
- Get On Track Program – 1-2 years. Perfect for high school students. Certificate II in Digital Technologies. 100% Government funded if criteria met.
- Accelerate Program – Certificate III in Digital Technologies. 70% Government funded if criteria met.