A couple of weeks ago, those idea-hounds over at the TED Web site posted a blog about third-generation Ph.D. Daphne Koller extolling the virtues of online training and education at one of their seminars. Now, some of you would think that Ms. Koller would be something of an educational snob and not think too highly of online learning, but surprise! she’s all for it.
Good schools can be out of reach for many people all over the world, even here in North America where the top institutes of higher learning are located. At the TED seminar, Ms. Koller quoted New York Times editorialist Thomas Friedman by telling everyone, “Big breakthoughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary.” And obtaining a quality education online is certainly a breakthrough that has helped millions of people obtain what is desperately necessary.
What differentiates online education, according to Koller, is that it provides a “real course experience.” Even the most hoity toity schools are getting in on the online action by offering free courses to give students all over the world a glimpse of what it’s possible to learn online. And, this is very definitely a good thing.
Not only is online learning an effective tool, it provides both students and teachers a way to disseminate materials in smaller, easier-to-swallow modules that give students the opportunity to absorb more without their heads hitting the desks during extended lectures. Professors are enjoying breaking up material into short “modular chunks” that allows for better preparation and less yawning from their students. Plus, the addition of shorter quizzes and exercises ensures that students really learn what they’re watching. The key is to not encourage passive viewing, but to include activities that ensure the material is truly absorbed.
What has been proven to work in colleges and universities holds true for those of you who desperately need on-the-job training, but cannot – or will not – leave your desks to get it. More and more companies are getting hip to Learning Management Systems (LMS) that make it easier to provide the training employees need without incurring the exorbitant expenses of bringing in consultants or sending employees to off-site training sessions. If they have an Internet connection, they can train. Plus, the best types of on-the-job training provide the same activities that university courses include, giving employees the opportunity to really learn what they need to.
That being said, we know that not all training is perfect. If your head has hit the desk for a snooze during an online training course, we want to hear about it! If it sucked, we have the “in” on some good ones – honest.
For more on the “good ones,” visit Coggno.com.