Thursday 20 March 2014

Event overview - Online learning: Developing trends

This lunchtime seminar, presented by Myles Runham, Head of Online at the BBC Academy, demonstrated how and why the BBC utilises social media in its delivery of online education and learning content, in addition to the benefits of doing so.

Some key points I took away from the seminar are as follows.

We continue to be preoccupied with learning taking place in a certain time and place.
Citing Clay Shirky's assertion that "institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution", Myles drew attention to education providers' continued delivery of linear courses and 'traditional' learning experiences, such as lectures.

There are other approaches we might employ whilst maintaining our offering as relevant and useful.
People now learn through a variety of different means, including social media and video platforms such as YouTube. It's possible to scaffold learning within these platforms using exactly the same content, people, and approaches as a more traditional approach, but it still isn't accepted as a viable or valid. Social media tools set new expectations for learners, being user-focused, relevant, discoverable, reusable, searchable, social, timely, and most of all: simple. This is why people use them.
Sean MacEntee, via Flickr under Creative Commons Licence.

Web learning tools aren't special.
Myles used the annual C4LPT survey of learning tools to demonstrate that the top ten are just normal tools for productivity. They're non-specialist, i.e. not necessarily built with education in mind, they put user needs first, and can be used in a whole range of different ways.

Digital experiences are a complement to traditional learning methods.
People become anxious when it's suggested that digital activities might replace the course-based experience. They likely won't, but should instead be incorporated into the curriculum to add value and supplement existing practices. Social learning experiences are exceptionally powerful in the real world, so why not also engage in them online with a vast array of learners and experts?

Education providers must play a part in validating content delivered through digital channels.
One criticism of informal online learning is that knowledge can be unverified; it lacks a theoretical or a research-led underpinning. Universities can ensure that quality standards are maintained by being involved in this process: designing, developing, and curating media content that is both relevant and reliable within the context of academic study.

Myles Runham Twitter
BBC Academy
C4LPT Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013

The Social Scholar is a series of seminars which focus on the use of social media in education. Events are hosted by the School of Advanced Study and are free and open to all. More information about forthcoming seminars can be found in the events calendar.

Originally posted on the LSHTM e-Learning blog. Reproduced by the author, Jo Stroud.

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