A Look at MOOCs, VOOCs and Other Worlds with Donald Clark at Learning Live 2014
By Unicorn Senior Relationship Manager Sarah Smith Donald Clark has over 30 years’ experience in online learning business. One of the original founders of Epic, a Director of the University for Industry, City&Guilds, Cogbooks, Learningpool, Brighton Festival & Dome. He's also a blogger and speaker as an evangelist for the use of technology in learning and has won many design awards, including the first 'Outstanding Achievement in E-learning Award'. As Donald started I can honestly say I wasn’t sure what to expect from a session title that seemed nebulous and specific all at the same time I thought I would attend as it featured in the ‘Future Stream’ of the event. In actual fact the session touched briefly on MOOCs and VOOCs and was focused on the wider subject of Technology as a Trainer. I had seen previous articles and talks by Donald including one on the fact that there has been ‘More pedagogic change in 10 years than the last 1000 years’ (check out his TED Talk here) it is about how we learn and how we need to make sure as teachers that we work with those learning not rely on methods of the past. Don divided his subject into a number of sections: From the most basic we can look at Google as a resource. It organises the world’s information in a way to make it universally accessible. It is a data filter used by billions so it has to be acknowledged in the learning process not ignored. Once you get into Google access to what you need can then be found in hyperlinks to take you directly to relevant information, it appeals to the way the mind works by offering a network of information. Videos will then share evidence to add to the learning process, social media will provide social interaction on the subject and open source learning can then be used to find more information. Essentially the online world can now be our teacher or at least start the learning process. That is not to say that this makes teachers redundant. In fact it is encouraging teachers or trainers to ‘flip the classroom’. Rather than resorting to old style lecturing where learners are expected to retain high volumes of spoken information, the idea of flipping the classroom is that learners research the subject before arriving, so that the classroom is the place to apply the theory. The classroom is then the safe environment to test understanding and discuss with peers the solution using knowledge already obtained with the teacher providing feedback. By changing the way technology is used by the trainer, it is meeting the needs of learners of the now and of the future. Whether users realise it or not their attention span is shorter than before but that does not mean they are less interested, it just means they need other ways of being engaged. Examples include how people are now far more used to multi-tasking. It is not uncommon to be on a laptop and mobile phone or talking to someone while you find your way to a location using your phone. It is modern life and a skill that we have developed without thinking about it. Therefore learners can be challenged in the same way. The final part of the session covered how we could use data to personalise or predict a learner’s journey. This way rather than learners getting an overload of information the information they get will be specific and tailored. At Unicorn we have been doing this for some time with suggested Learning Pathways designed with customers, but typically based more on job role than evidenced experience and knowledge of the individual. The other option our customers’ frequently use is diagnostic testing - starting a course with a knowledge assessment and where you meet the pass criteria you do not have to complete those elements of the learning. Where you don’t pass then you are automatically enrolled on the learning, i.e. the platform provides you with a personalised learning path. This goes someway to personalise learning but truly adaptive learning that responds to your progress as you learn (common in video games) is still in its infancy in eLearning. It will be interesting to see how far this can be taken in the future. Donald also brought up Virtual Reality as a way of tailoring the learning, or in fact using it for teaching, assessment and certification. In the example of the Oculus Rift the learner places a headset on and is entered into a virtual reality where they must face and pass tasks. A good example used in the USA is for Army training or gas inspectors. By putting learners in the environment they can train safely and learn in realistic situations. It added real training value according to those who have used it and at $300 it is affordable should training warrant it. this video was played and really struck a chord with me about our future and the future of how we learn. This video was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books and produced by Khaki Films. Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally. We hope you enjoy it - and make sure you watch it up to at least the halfway point as there's a surprise!