Putting Learning in Collective Hands: A New Democracy?

This article looks at the democratisation of learning and the importance of this in an era of technological advances and high-speed innovation and change. Collaborative learning, where two or more people learn together to share knowledge and good practice can help spark innovation, break down silos and boundaries and open up the process of both learning and educating.

Graham quotes Charles Darwin: “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind too), those who learned to collaborate and improve most effectively have prevailed.”

The article discusses new developments in crowd-sourced learning projects and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) and the importance of putting the means of production of learning into the collective hands of the subject matter experts. The results and impact on performance are now more important than finesse and polish when it comes to shared content.

Key Messages:

  1. A lot of the material which supports online learning comes from older, more sluggish corporate models and is out of sync with new technology.
  2. More organisations are trying to become learner centric. In some organisations there is now greater user-experience design in e-learning and more focus on the usability of learning tools and technologies.
  3. Crowd-sourced learning projects are on the rise, particularly in the US (in 2012, $70 million was committed by venture capitalists to nine start-up projects aimed at various social and business sectors). Sites like Udemy, Skillshare and mylearningwork take the wisdom of the crowd, validate it and share it with everyone in one easy-to-use place.
  4. More sites are using cloud-based technology and simple authoring tools to put the production and broadcast of powerful online learning into the hands of the subject matter experts.
  5. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) – large-scale participation and open access via the internet are also becoming more commonplace and there are variations on this model: xMOOCS are instructor-guided lessons which include discussion forums, and allow people to bounce ideas around and discuss learning together; cMOOC’s are based on a connectivist approach in which learners set their own learning goals and types of engagement. We are also seeing the emergence of industry-specific MOOCs which encourage collaboration beyond organisational boundaries for the wider good of the industry.

Source: Graham, K. (2013) The Wisdom of the Crowd. Training Journal. February 2013, pp.28-32.

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