What is Online Learning?

Online learning is not new; the category encompasses any learning that takes place through web-based platforms, whether formal or informal. The learning can be structured like as in traditional courses or entirely self-paced. What has made the topic new is the recent and unprecedented focus on providing learning via the Internet that has been stimulated by the tremendous interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs). What is new in this space is that online learning has “come of age;” the design of online learning is (more and more) specifically intended to encompass the latest research, the most promising developments, and new emerging business models in the online learning environment. At many institutions, online learning is an area newly ripe for experimentation — some would argue it is undergoing a sea change, with every dimension of the process open for reconceptualization. On campuses around the globe, virtually every aspect of how students connect with institutions and each other to learn online is being reworked, rethought, and redone — but it will be some time yet before ideas coalesce enough to be validated by research and implemented broadly.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Quality online/blended learning is inextricably linked to the future of Australian Universities, especially multi-campus universities outside the group of 8. I disagree that it has "come of age". My experience is for many it is difficult, problematic, and frustrating. The capacity of the University workforce to deliver "quality" is compromised by regulation, lack of resources, lack of commitment, lack of knowledge and skill, and a 1970s business/organisation/staffing model that mitigates against success. There is also a need for inter-university sharing and development of units and courses.- geoff.romeo geoff.romeo Feb 26, 2015
  • “Our major competitor in ten years time will be Google... if we’re still alive!” University Vice-Chancellor. The range of pressures which converge on new models for universities are clearly articulated in the report attached. The business of higher education will transform (not because it wants to but because it will be forced to). Only one of the operations of Universities is the creation of courses, however it is the digital technologies online which will tool to create the needed efficiencies - daniel.ingvarson daniel.ingvarson Mar 1, 2015
  • “The traditional university model is the analogue of the print newspaper... 15 years max, you’ve got the transformation.” University Vice-Chancellor - daniel.ingvarson daniel.ingvarson Mar 1, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • It seems to me that online learning will play a significant part in the growing competency-based education movement, and will have a far greater impact in higher education than MOOCs. Perhaps this is a theme that should be included? http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/got-skills-why-online-competency-based-education-disruptive-innovation-higher-education - jwilliams jwilliams Feb 15, 2015
  • Having an evidence-informed approach which guides online course development and delivery which results in deep learning by students- glenn.finger glenn.finger Feb 17, 2015
  • How do we increase the capacity of staff to design, develop, and teach, quality online units/courses - geoff.romeo geoff.romeo Feb 26, 2015
  • In an era of austerity, how do, we resource the fundamental shift to quality online/blended learning that is required - geoff.romeo geoff.romeo Feb 26, 2015
  • There is a need for digitally delivered assistance like that of tutors. A technology which could amplify what a single tutor does by 1000 or Some for of AI on top of a specific course. Basically something to be able to answer questions which learners have like a person who is an expert in the course. I think this is a area which should be added (maybe Digital learning assistant - which is currently a human role in Uni's) - daniel.ingvarson daniel.ingvarson Mar 1, 2015
  • Perhaps online learning through MOCs - mini online courses- rather then the enormity of MOOCs, will be better placed to provide the quality needed in design and teaching acumen.- joanne.woodrow joanne.woodrow Mar 2, 2015
  • Some 61% of the world's population doesn't have access to the internet. Online learning, while allowing increased access to learning for some sectors of the community, excludes the most vulnerable members of society from participation. - helen.farley helen.farley Mar 4, 2015
  • We assume that students always have the digital literacies they need to fully participate. This is not necessarily the case. - helen.farley helen.farley Mar 4, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Online learning will be foregrounded in rethinking international student (e.g. transnational education) strategies - glenn.finger glenn.finger Feb 17, 2015
  • New expectations for academics in having the capabilities for online course design and teaching - glenn.finger glenn.finger Feb 17, 2015
  • Agree, the nature of academic work and academic teaching is changing but our expectations of staff (and our willingness/ability/capacity to change those expectations) is not keeping up. Clinging to old models of design/development/delivery/adminsitration is restricting us - geoff.romeo geoff.romeo Feb 26, 2015
  • It will be the platform on which the business of selling learning through courses is changed, just the way that the delivery of advertising (previously through newspapers) what changed by the internet search. In a logical conclusion there maybe a case for a single course for a topic to used for every single student in the world. If we consider this a potential impact is the "white boxing" of courses and the potential for the publishers to create them with institutions 'tweaking' them and they are all delivered through a small number of online systems (Uni's outsource their IT to these massive online course management systems. The impact would be a structural shift in what a Uni's role is in these courses. Some impacts would be 'rock star' course leaders rather than institutions in the same way some bloggers are able to carry audiences away from one publication to the next. The commoditisation of some course content making differentiation at the lower end of the higher education market difficult and leading to market consolidation of these institutions. At least consolidation of these courses across institutions, only if those institutions have both alternative businesses (research industry partnerships etc) - daniel.ingvarson daniel.ingvarson Mar 1, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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