Trying, belatedly, to live up to Jon Udell’s “principle of the conservation of keystrokes,” I’m posting a little something I wrote a couple of weeks ago in answer my friend and colleague Chuck Dziuban’s question: “what is the future of online education?” Frequent readers will recognize some of my usual riffs–oldies but hopefully still goodies. It will also be obvious how much Brian Lamb has influenced my thinking: his piece on mashups in last month’s EDUCAUSE Review is a honey, particularly because of the passionate hymn to open content and open education with which he concludes his essay.
At any rate, here’s my .02:
Traditional models of distance education–education delivered, assessed, and credentialed by institutions of higher education–still dominate our thinking about online learning. Over the next decade, however, online learning will increasingly occur in ad-hoc contexts that rely on personally-aggregated feeds of syndicated, open content and tap into new kinds of credential-granting structures, including assessment-driven certification granted by agencies whose membership cuts across traditional institutional structures. Traditional course-for-credit models will persist–they certainly have their uses–but more and more learners will arrange their own “cognitive apprenticeships” by means of RSS feeds of content generated by a personal suite of trusted and inspiring experts, and they will build their reputations through certifications, testimonials, and a body of their own online work that generates persistent, sophisticated commentary.