Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.
|Online learning will soon become education of future|
E-learning is the future of education. Soon, students will be able to take their lessons at home, in a coffee shop or at the mall. They can learn anytime and anywhere. All they will need is a computer and an internet connection.
Already, every student at the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) and Zayed University (ZU) is carrying a portable computer.
They log on to their computers and read their lessons and do their assignments in the cafeteria or the library.
A large number of people who do not have the time or money to travel are registering for online courses being offered by some of the most prestigious universities and educational institutions in the world.
What is e-learning? Jay Cross, CEO of the Emergent Learning Forum and the man who came up with the term e-learning said: “Now a days, the word e-learning is whatever anybody says it is. At first, it used to be whatever you learn from a computer, but that is not consistent anymore. So, e-learning means many things.
“At first people used to say, it’s not the e that’s important, it the learning. I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s the doing that’s important. It’s networking, it’s management and it’s learning how to deal with computers.”
Recently, HCT held its third annual e-learning, e-merging conference under the patronage of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and HCT chancellor.
This year’s conference was held under the theme “Ensuring quality in e-learning” and focused on quality assurance, design standards and accreditation in online education.
The e-learning guidebook, released during the conference said: “The concept of e-learning is based on the delivery of learning by using technology as the delivery platform. The guiding principle is education anytime and anywhere.”
A strong supporter of e-learning, Shaikh Nahyan told Gulf News: “E-learning will shape the future. Technology has become an integral part in utilising education. Many countries around the globe are offering programmes online.
“Through e-learning, you can educate yourself at your own time and your own pace. You don’t have to leave your country to pursue your education anymore and it is cheaper for people who can’t afford to study abroad.”
Dr Curtis J Bonk, professor of educational psychology and instructional systems technology at Indiana University, said: “Our world as we know it, has changed forever. So, we should see what needs to be changed and what needs to stay the same. E-learning is exploding and most universities have incorporated e-learning and others are trying to map every course online.”
Bonk said there were a number of misconceptions surrounding e-learning.
“College instructors need to think differently now and not use the same lecturing methods,” he said.
Another myth, he said, is that schools and universities cannot afford the technology and that online learning is easy.
“Online learning is much more difficult than traditional learning because students have to be mature, independent learners.”
There are also those who are sceptical about e-learning, Najat Rochdi, regional coordinator of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the UNDP, said: ” I say yes to e-learning and yes to technology, but for what purpose and what kind of society?”
“Technology should complement society, but where does the Arab society stand in all this. The UAE is pioneering in technological advances, but this is not the reality with many other Arab countries. More than 850 million people in developing countries are excluded from a wide range of information and knowledge. The poor in developing countries remain much isolated. We should try to come back to reality.”
Hassa Al Gurair, a graduate of ZU’s executive master of business administration programme, said: “During our two years of study, we were able to collaborate on projects from different corners of the globe and only met on the days of the presentations. We were thus able to benefit from the expertise and experience of our professors even though they were on another continent.”
“Technology should complement society… More than 850 million in developing countries are excluded from a wide range of information and knowledge.
Networks are defined by the quality of their connections. The measure of network success is its rate of error-free throughput. The successful business has high bandwidth and connections so good that value flows without friction.
The successful software environment is one that connects so well with business, workers and other computers that no one notices it’s there.
The successful worker is one so synchronized with the challenges of work that he enters a psychological state of flow while optimizing the flow of work under changing conditions.
Happily for us, when connections are working properly, we dont need to see them. Take, for example, the Internet cloud. As far as the user is concerned, she has a direct connection to the site on her screen. In reality, the image she sees is probably the result of information being bounced through a variety of pipes both near and far. Reality doesn’t matter if the metaphor is sufficiently compelling.
Twenty-five hundred years ago, Heraclitus of Ephesus told us, “Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed. Right on, Ephesus!
Having witnessed its power, business is beginning to mimic the internet.
Workflow Learning is but one aspect of a work cloud. As far as the worker is concerned, he is looking at the flow of work, making mid-course corrections, taking care of exceptions, communicating with colleagues, and learning how to improve performance. He doesnt take courses so much as drink from a stream of learning experiences flowing by.
The future of corporate learning is all business.
Still more to come
Because I consider this an important concept, I’m posting it here as well as at the Workflow Institute.
For thinking over your options..
Extrapolating from the phenomenal growth of computer networks and their power to transmit information, Jacques Vallée noted that at some point all existing information would become available instantaneously everywhere. This is the “information singularity”.
The point to remember, however, is that abstract, non-material variables, such as intelligence, information, or innovation, aren’t subjected to the same “limits to growth” which characterize the exhaustion of finite resources. Such variables could conceivably reach values which for all practical purposes may be called “infinite”.
Increasing Returns. As the number of connections between people and things add up, the consequences of those connections multiply out even faster, so that initial successes arent self-limiting, but self-feeding.
Feed the Web First. As networks entangle all commerce, a firms primary focus shifts from maximizing the firms value to maximizing the networks value. Unless the net survives, the firm perishes.
No Harmony, All Flux. As turbulence and instability become the norm in business, the most effective survival stance is a constant but highly selective disruption that we call innovation.
Relationship Tech. As the soft trumps the hard, the most powerful technologies are those that enhance, amplify, extend, augment, distill, recall, expand, and develop soft relationships of all types.–Kevin Kelly, New Rules for the New Economy
Business is morphing into flexible, self-organizing components that operate in real time. Software is becoming interoperable, open, ubiquitous, and transparent. Workers are learning in small chunks delivered to individualized screens presented at the time of need. Learning is being transformed into a core business process measured by Key Performance Indicators. Taken together, these changes create a new kind of business environment, a Business Singularity.
Business organizations are evolving into networks. What happens inside the corporate walls is nowhere near as important as the overall flow of value from raw material to customer. Internal boundaries are obstacles to be overcome. Networks shared among suppliers, partners, and customers integrate the business into a commercial ecosystem that is, no surprise, a larger network. The real-time enterprise is being born.
Business software is evolving from client/server to networks. The network really is the computer. The internet is the new model of IT architecture. Open networks that can talk with one another are far more valuable than yesterdays proprietary, isolated fortresses. As on the net, enterprise software evolves with changing conditions, routes around damage, and reaches out to form new connections. Software is beginning to serve business instead of demanding that business contort itself to software’s demands.
People are networks enmeshed in networks with one another. Our bodies are networks. Our minds are neural networks with built-in firewalls and filters. We network with one another. Outboard memory in the form of PDAs and personal data stores supplement human wetware. The biggest factor in individual success is the quality our social networks. You’re as effective as your connections.
In any thriving network, tentacles reach out to snare new members like ivy climbing a wall, because the more active members, the greater the value of the network. Growth begets growth until a tipping point is reached. Then expansion becomes explosive. The rewards of membership become so high that connecting becomes irresistable. In 1930, your business could live without a telephone; in 2004, it can not.
We are about to witness a spectacular convergence of people and businesses. Networks are connecting to networks.
Workers and their work are becoming synchronous and inseparable. Colleagues and customers collaborate seamlessly. Transparent software obliterates the business/IT divide. Organizations focus on what they do best, outsourcing everything else to the greater commercial ecosystem, sort of a global eBay for business activities. Network efficiencies eradicate the largest drag on corporate performance: slack. The pace of business trends toward instantaneity.
The way people improve their performance in this Business Singularity is called Workflow Learning. It is what corporate learning will become three to five years hence. It takes place in a virtual workplace where workers interact, learn, and control the process of creating value in real time.
More to come
I just arrived back in Berkeley after a 17 hour flight. Pleasant reflections of Abu Dhabi appear and fade. My body has no idea what time it is.
One mega-memory is the magnificent food I’ve eaten this week. Not just the banquets, either. The Rotana Beach Hotel puts out a buffet to die for.
Salmon, sushi, calamari, mussels
Air-dried beef, calamari, octopus salad, tabouleh, mini-pitas
Here’s the Abu Dhabi Mall, Beach Rotana Hotel,
Coop, and office tower. The hotels
here can break even at 20% occupancy.
That’s what happens when you buy a
place in an all-cash deal.
The centers of some of the glitzy blocks
house stores and quarters for Southeast Asians.
The Emiratis often live in tasteful
modern houses surrounded by high walls.
After lunch, John Hedberg and I took our hour and twenty minutes on the main stage. Johns message of matching engaging pedagogy with appropriate technology dovetailed with my theme of informal learning.
I contend that the measure of quality education is not so much what happens at school but rather the success of the graduate in life after school. In todays turbulent environment, that means recognizing informal learning and tools such as blogs and wikis, and learning how to use them.
The next morning, Intels Martin Curley gave a great presentation on state-of-eLearning before joining Drs. Hedberg, Bonk, and myself for a ninety-minute panel session (left) on Global Approaches to Blended Learning which covered not only blending but also change management, the need for connections with the world outside of school, and follow-up to all of our prior presentations.
In answer to a question about wikis, I called up Wikipedia and found no entry for Blended Learning. As our panel explained what Blended Learning meant to them, I created a page on the topic in Wikipedia. (As if to demonstrate wiki behavior, two days later my post was trivialized into nonsense.)
Following lunch, I led a workshop on blogs and wikis. In the panel session, a teacher had come up with a laundry list of why blended learning wouldnt work. There wasnt time and the administration didnt trust online work. In the workshop, doers replaced naysayers; several participants intend to put blogging to use immediately to teach writing English at both the elementary and undergraduate levels.
The beautiful facilities of the Higher College of Technology
Dr. Tayeb Kamali, head of HCT, calm while others race about
Yours truly, holding court
QuickTime video of speakers chatting at the Rotana Beach. 6 MB. Probably not worth it unless you’re in the picture.
The next morning, we took the bus to the Mens Higher College of Technology. When his Excellency and his entourage strode into the auditorium, everyone rose. Miss World reappeared, as did the Bollywood movie star. Twelve cameramen captured every move with Nikons and videocams. Fresh flowers abounded. (Forgive my changing verb tense here; I wrote most of this as it happened, as I would for a live blog.)
His Excellency gave the opening keynote to several hundred of us in the auditorium of the Mens Higher College of Technology. A good online education must be a good education. Some believe that the greatest contribution of eLearning is the improvements that carry over to F2F instruction. The sheikh is reciting the best practices of eLearning interactivity, great faculty, combining F2F and distance ed, support services.
Next came a ceremonial contract signing on the main stage with ICL and Tata. The photographers swarmed. His Excellency departed immediately thereafter to go falcon hunting with the leader of Pakistan.
The shape of accreditation today
Dr. Mary Peace Lynn, The Center for Quality Assurance in International Education, on quality and assessment. Growth is the catalyst for external quality assurance agencies. Accreditation is her focus. I appreciate that accreditation is important, but its not a thrilling story. After all, higher education is borderless. Professions are globalizing. Countries need to keep pace. Dr Lynn was clearly upset that His Excellency put a higher priority on his hunting trip than on staying for her message.
IBMs Richard Straub is up next. He is director Learning Solutions, IBM EMEA, and Chairman of the eLearning Industry Group. The definition of eLearning is expanding. Now we are doing new things rather than automating the old ones. Informal learning is becoming more important. Simultaneously, the technology is evolving. There are many moving targets. Tech is the smarter challenge; the real challenge is change management and breaking free of our old habits.
A Digital Literacy Standard is required today, says David Carpenter, inventor of the Internet Driving License. Digital literacy is todays 3 Rs. ECDL has proposed a digital literacy standard. The skills include word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, database essentially the Microsoft Office Suite.
The official conference sugar cubes
On the way back from the Gala Dinner last night, John Hedburg and I had grabbed the front row on the bus. On the 90-minute ride from Dubai back to Abu Dhabi, John told me about his work with fifth- and seventh-grade math teachers. So many math examples have no relationships to students lives. If 12 boys make up 32% of the class and 4 more join, making them 40% of the class, how many students are in the class? No one ever encounters a question like that in the real world. Better to teach from an example of figuring out which cell phone plan to choose.
Johns message is about mixing marketing and learning. Keep the audience in mind. I wish the next speaker had factored this into his presentation which was all me-me-me how-cool-we-are, with little empathy for the listeners.
Bernie Luskin says the Internet, population demographics, bandwidth, etc everything changes everything. Convergence happening everywhere. The issue is What needs to change? And What needs to remain the same? Most things last. 70% – 90% of what we deal with is the old stuff. Given his topic of learning psychology, it was ironic to have Bernie fell into the me-me-me trap, listing the names of what topics we need to know but dont have time to talk about today.
Curt Bonk takes the stage in a Dr. Evil costume. Then Mini-Me appears. Dr Evil explodes ten myths:
The Emirati seated next to me pointed out that the speakers all point to great content, great faculty, and great tech as the golden path. However, he thinks these are non-issues: money can fix them. The problem is the people. They are not motivated, in large measure because the online institutions of higher learning are not accredited. Its ironic to discover that at a conference on eLearning, degrees issued by online institutions here are not seen as legitimate credentials when it comes to qualifying for jobs.
Bonk appears as Merlin. His surveys of corp and higher ed finds both sectors in favor of eLearning. Sometimes its supplemental. Certificate programs are going up. Short degrees are popular.
to be continued
Early the following evening, the speakers boarded a bus for the 90-minute trip to Dubai for the Gala Dinner hosted by Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor, Higher Colleges of Technology.
A student film awards ceremony including Diana Hayden (former Miss World) and Mahima Chowdhury (Indian movie star) was part of the evenings entertainment. This all took place at the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel, an awe-inspiring, mammoth hotel complex that includes a towering building in the shape of a dhows sail. Several hundred representatives of academic institutions and tech corporations shuffled into the lobby, some lamenting that the immense bar served no alcohol, this being a State-funded affair.
The evening included a stunning, over-the-top laser show, a fellow who artfully scaled linen streamers to the ceiling, and the film awards. We all rose as the Sheikh and his entourage departed after the entertainment, and soon heaping platters of food appeared on our tables. Sad to say, no camel or goat.
Arriving home after midnight, we agreed that this had been a unique opener for the next days sessions.
The eMerging eLearning blog has moved here.
Yesterday the URL abu_dhabi began generating an error message that says the _ character is no longer allowed in URLs. It turns out this is a problem at the Rotana Beach Hotel server level but for all I know, it’s a wider protocol within the UAE.