This article originally appeared on the Avectra blog with the title, Association Learning Communities Offer More than MOOC. Deirdre kindly agreed to let us repost it here.
One of those articles, The Big Idea That Can Revolutionize Higher Education: MOOC, was written by Laura McKenna for The Atlantic. She says MOOC combines “the best of college – exceptional instruction – with the best of technology – online interactive learning.” The best thing of all: MOOC is free.
Coursera, Udacity, and Khan Academy are the other big (and successful) names in MOOC. Their students generally have access to video lectures, peer-moderated discussion boards, and quizzes. If they complete and pass the course, they receive a certificate, not college credits.
MOOC is stirring up the same types of sentiments in the academic community that social media stirs up in the association community. Daphne Koller, a Stanford University professor and co-founder of Coursera, says, “The tsunami is coming whether we like it or not. You can be crushed or you can surf and it is better to surf.”
Learning in the digital age
Why are these companies having early success? For a little context, the Socialfish blog shared a presentation from the Pew Internet & American Life Project for librarians, Learning in the Digital Age. The data alone is worth a look – it shows how ready we are for online education. The presentation also alludes to the value libraries can provide in a world of networked learners. Associations are even better placed to do that.
With the growth of free online education, Koller believes universities won’t be able to charge for content in the future. Instead, they’ll charge for other benefits of university life, such as “the community of scholars and students.”
IF MOOC remains merely a content delivery vehicle, universities and associations should focus on providing the other elements of an educational experience – the value-adds that Coursera and its cohorts aren’t supplying.
Associations are already leaders in professional development. They have the opportunity to extend and deepen their members’ learning experience with online tools. The value-add comes by being an information and resource curator, and, more importantly, a provider of social, interactive, online learning experiences. This is where technology comes to the rescue with learning management systems (LMS) tied to online community platforms.
Members will increasingly look for social, online learning experiences that offer both peer-to-peer and teacher-student interaction. They will expect to access those experiences using whatever device is handy, including their mobile phones and tablets.
The members of Generation Flux (a generation of all ages) won’t wait for supervisors to direct their professional development. They’ll take charge of their own education. Why should they go to one of these new MOOC sites for self-paced, DIY, free (or inexpensive) education, when you can provide them with all that plus more?
Lessons from MOOC
By watching how these new educational ventures meet market needs, we can figure out which concepts can be applied to association education. If MOOC is missing teacher-student and peer-to-peer interaction, associations can do that. If it lacks a learning community, associations can definitely do that.
Newspapers, magazines, music companies, and now higher education have struggled in response to changes in their markets. Unlike associations, they are ‘broadcast’ businesses with a one-to-many delivery method. Associations are in the business of creating communities for the common good. Now associations can also create learning communities by using LMS, online community, and social platforms.
If you want to learn more about online learning, download Learning 2.0 for Associations from Tagoras, and check out their other resources. Follow the Twitter streams of Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele of Tagoras as well as Kathi Edwards, Jane Bozarth, and Jane Hart.
MOOC, schmooc. With the right approach and technology, associations will create more meaningful learning experiences for their member communities.
Deirdre Reid, CAE is a freelance writer and copywriter who will try out a Coursera course on modern and contemporary American poetry in September.