Learning Just Got Bigger
Did it really? Online/distance learning has been around for awhile now, so how did it just get bigger? It is more than safe to say that learning didn't just get bigger, it's actually been getting exponentially HUGE! According to GSV Estimates (April 13, 2012), the global E-Learning market is expected to grow from $91B to $166B from 2012-2015. And it doesn't stop there, as this market is projected to reach $256B by 2017. That's nuts, in my opinion, as an already huge market will be nearly 3x what it is today. Due to new technologies, models, and learning solutions, the opportunities for growth of such an incredibly important market are endless. There has, therefore, never been a more exciting time for distance education. However, as a Subject Matter Expert and Continuing Education Adjunct Professor for over ten years at New York University, I know first-hand how this growth and these changes can come across as a bit daunting and perhaps even downright threatening to many educators.
The New EDU Imperative
There is no mistaking that MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, have had a tremendous impact on the distance education landscape in the past 12 months, and will continue to do so. While the notion of 'educating the world for free' sounds great on the surface (something I would be entirely behind!), the truth is that MOOCS are not entirely free -- to the universities and subject matter experts (SMEs), that is. Along with costs involved to produce, market, and deliver the courses come severe scrutiny and accountability... a sad, but true reality of any business, no matter how altruistic or philanthropic the mission. In order to create, grow, and sustain quality educational systems and models that can accomplish this goal, content providers of all kinds -- not just educational institutions, but book/magazine publishers, CE Associations, etc. -- need a proactive approach now. We need to use technologies and develop solutions that accomplish all of the following, without any exception:
- Enhance the learning outcome of paying students, members, subscribers or customers
- Expand competitive global reach, revenues and brand/reputation
- Foster the value of content and associated Subject Matter Experts
- What happened to record companies? And, why?
- How were artists/musicians (the SMEs) impacted?
- How did the disruption impact consumption of said content, and the trajectory of that business? [Side Note/Prediction: Digital music/subscriptions sales will eclipse hard good music sales within the next ten years.]
- What new models emerged, stabilizing the ecosystem and ultimately changing it forever?
- Who were the innovators? The leaders? The stabilizers? What did they do right? Where did they fail? What did they have in common? How were they different?
Accomplishing the objectives of the New EDU Imperative is entirely doable, and was, in fact, what inspired the foundation of MassiveU. Extreme Resourcefulness (Sounds like an event in a learning-inspired X Games!) and necessity were harnessed in order to surgically dissect the current model, making make it bigger and better for all stakeholders involved, including, but not limited to, the Educator/Content Provider, the Subject Matter Expert, the Student/Learner, and/or the savvy Sponsor/Marketer.
Are we building a better mousetrap? I suppose you could say so. New technologies, models, and learning solutions are great, as long as they can be sustained and improved upon. They work when everyone benefits to some degree and when change is embraced as an opportunity. Apple did as much in the music ecosystem. At the heart of it all is quality content. Thank you, Bill Gates, for your foresight in your 1994 essay on "Content is King." This emphasis on dire need for exceptional content has never been more evident or noteworthy than in the field of education. This will never change.
A Tall Order?
Is changing education for the better a tall order? Considering what is at stake, It is an important order would be my answer. As a father of twin 5-year-olds, the future of how our children learn and the ways we can educate them is of the utmost importance to me. As a Subject Matter Expert and Educator for over a decade now, the delivery methods, efficiencies, and solutions for learning/teaching are as significant to me as they are personal. And as a marketing specialist and entrepreneur, I couldn't be more excited about growing and improving this ecosystem!
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