WCOL Opening plenary - Wednesday

I missed the first talk: I have put in some tweets. A full summary of the last two talks is below.

Phil Hill and Fiona Hollands
Tomorrow’s Learning Platform

Patrice Torcivia‏ @Profpatrice  First up @PhilOnEdTech discussing the 'regular and substantive interaction'

Lynn Sutherland‏ @GrokIam  Online Learning is now #Mainstream @PhilOnEdTech and will become even more personalized

Elaine Lam‏ @ElaineKLam  ‘#edtech decision makers live in an echo chamber. There r other great ideas out there that live outside #highered’

Chris Anstead Breaking open filter bubbles & silos of online learning spaces! Making new global connections & ways of knowing

Janine Lim‏ @outonalim @EdResearcher asks for the for-profits in the room. None. Where are they? Too much focus on OPEN at this conference? Curious.

Janine Lim‏ @outonalim  edtech decision makers don't usually look for research to choose, instead local evidence - @EdResearcher Fiona Hollands

Angela van Barneveld‏ @avanbarn Tool-first approach to tech integration labelled ‘Garbage Can Model’ - yep! Fiona Hollands plenary(ColumbiaU)

Jacqueline‏ @JacquelineH_11  My notes on day 3's opening plenary- great speakers today!  https://twitter.com/JacquelineH_11/status/920643009775112194

Randy Best
Perspectives on Innovative Learning

We are an industry in transition - transition to what? Whatever it is, it will be technology enabled. There will be a broad array of different types of alternative degree programs and different products. These will leverage technology and take advantage of recent advances. 21stt century consumers are demanding more choice.

My view of online higher ed has been an attempt to reproduce the higher ed classroom in tech. The next generation will be designed specifically for digital delivery, and break down how we study into a less linear market. These products are already here. Today, more students are in alternative degree programs than attend traditional campuses. Eg. Harvard and KIT 1.3 million enrollments in a shorted masters program at a discounted price.

The trend toward different types of programs, different types of products, is accelerating, and will be soon accepted. Soon students won’t need to borrow to go to college. The scale will more than offset the lower price. The new 21st century consumer of higher ed has choices.

The trend in the US is millions of people returning to university for higher level skills and credentials. Without these returning students enrollment in our colleges would be down almost 20%. This is a reservoir of about 100 million potential students.

Simon Nelson
Digital Transformation and the New Pedagogy for Online Learning (FutureLearn)

I was with the BBC; it was just embracing digital and people were predicting television would disappear. But today BBC1 is still the most-watched channel. But there has still been a significant more to digital. And the change has come, surprisingly, from content. Eg. Netflix content.

It was about 5 years I heard the word MOOC. I was invited to run a ‘secret project’ at the Open University. We saw massive hype of MOOCs and an almost equally ridiculous dismissal of the model. Think of the pace that it swept through education. So, this industry can move fast, and is doing so.

But as an industry it has a huge way to exploit technology for its customers, the learners. And I was fortunate to launch the startup, FutureLearn, drawing on generous funding and expertise. We are a commercial subsidiary, separate from OU. So I brought in outsiders. By now we were a couple of years late, so we needed to do something different.

We decided to build our own platform. Existing platforms didn’t seem like an option. We were amazed at how good learning experience didn’t seem to be a major fact in existing platforms. Our principles were:

  • it has to run perfectly on mobile most platforms, home page worked, learning experience broke

  • what we did had to look great; most platforms are as much fun as a tax return (showing examples, eg. Intro to CyberSecurity)

  • high quality content eg. Cory Doctorow introducing the course

  • it has to be social we saw lots fetishizing the pumping of video through the web - so with us, at every step of what you do, you can join a conversation

  • the courses have to be credible delivered by the world’s greatest universities, but also with meaningful outcomes - eg full masters degree

  • We’re still looking for partners, we have one of the best platforms in the world. We still don’t have any Canadian partners; looking to change that. We want to bundle credentials together to reform what learning can be. What’s going on in classrooms today won’t be fit for purpose for what’s coming in the future.

    We are starting to generate significant revenue from this. We are going to have a good position in the market. And we will be opening free education to millions of people.


    Question - for Phil Hill: What is your take on the ‘death of the LMS’? Response: I will cover in my presentation. I’ve herd this, but it doesn’t get backed up by evidence. Eg. We don’t see the percentage of schools with an LMS dropping at all.

    Question for Simon  - how do you make your money? OU - first, from learners, you need to upgrade to access a certificate, also some content. We’re starting to offer full degrees. We take a share of thata revenue. On the business side, our partners pay a fee in order to use the platform. Also now bidding on government tenders, eg., to deliver specific courses.

    Question - what aare the lessons FutureLearn has learned about completion rates? Response - about 1/4 of the people who start do the majority, about 20 percent complete the course. The trick is to get people to start; a lot of people sign up and then drift away. We send them email and prompts to get them to start. We have found the social element absolutely critical.

    Question - for Fiona - how do you justify involvement of students in decisions? Response - students are the end user, the primary customer in education. It’s not just to make things easier for them but to help them learn and prepare for the future. Phil - it’s difficult to get students and get organized input. With students focus groups just don’t work. You need more of a town-hall type approach. And a lot of schools are scared to involve students.

    Question - will digital make academic corruption greater or less? Response - MIT found students were signing up twice in the same MOOC - people would get all the answers in the first run, then get perfect scores in the second. Phil- part of the thing with digital is that it can scale, so when you have a creative method of chesting, it can happen quicker. And people can be quite novel with cheating.

    Question - shared experience as recipient of Telus’s online learning - I have to do a mandatory integrity course, and other courses. There’s a huge compliance factor. Courses are totally online.

    Question - how do you reconcile what FutureLearn does with what MOOCs started to do, to make education free. Response - team could make far more in private sector. Want to create impact. But we are convinced that it must be commercially sustainable. It must receive a return to be able to do this. So it comes down in the end to satisfying customer experience. We are big believers in premium, upselling high value products. Fiona - I suspect that a lot of the people buying credentials are looking for the credentials, not to learn, and I’m not sure the public should be paying for that.


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