Friday, June 10, 2011

The Community is the New Expert

There are so many people arguing about where online learning is headed. On one end of the spectrum you have Luddites expecting it's demise, whereas on the other hand you have technological innovators proclaiming that it's the heir apparent.

In a recent article found in The Atlantic, Derek Thompson dives deep into this debate. His premise is that universities should be more innovative with online learning. They are starting, but have a long way to go.

He quotes Gagan Biyani, Udemy's cofounder, as saying, "It was a big step for the universities like Yale and MIT to open up their content. They proved that people want to learn. But filming somebody teaching isn't disruptive."

Thompson continues by saying, "You know what's disruptive? A math genius creating a full online course -- with YouTube lectures, downloadable readings, interactive practice questions, and a global community of students commenting throughout. The closest person doing this on a massive scale is Salman Khan..."

We also found many of the counter arguments left by readers especially enlightening. One of these stated, "Self-directed learning has been available since the invention of the Gutenberg press. The value-added is the guidance of an expert."

We agree that the guidance of an expert is a fundamental need, however, we believe that today's expert is not a single person. Guidance and instruction is now found in the combined wisdom of the community. In the past, the assigned "expert" may have had 10-to-20 years of experience. But how much of that was real-world vs. academic experience? Today's experts, which we define as "the community," have exponentially more experience--real-world and academic. 

Being a member of the right community for your needs has never been easier. Gone are the expensive tuition and elite fraternal memberships. Now all you need is an internet connection and a willingness to learn.

1 comment:

  1. As well as looking at where expert knowledge resides, we have to look at how the learners learn. Because people people learn in different ways, the school sausage machine model is in danger of declining relevance.

    Interestingly, I believe marketers need to think the same way - the customer is the expert, not the marketer.