What is Online Learning?

Online learning is not new; the category encompasses any learning that takes place through web-based platforms, whether formal or informal. The learning can be structured like as in traditional courses or entirely self-paced. What has made the topic new is the recent and unprecedented focus on providing learning via the Internet that has been stimulated by the tremendous interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs). What is new in this space is that online learning has “come of age;” the design of online learning is (more and more) specifically intended to encompass the latest research, the most promising developments, and new emerging business models in the online learning environment. At many institutions, online learning is an area newly ripe for experimentation — some would argue it is undergoing a sea change, with every dimension of the process open for reconceptualization. On campuses around the globe, virtually every aspect of how students connect with institutions and each other to learn online is being reworked, rethought, and redone — but it will be some time yet before ideas coalesce enough to be validated by research and implemented broadly.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The Newseum launched its Digital Classroom a number of years ago primarily to provide teachers access to our award winning videos. We provided supporting lesson plans, timelines and primary source material. Museums are considered authoritative sources for information, and can provide critical resources for teachers. We provided streaming videos but in many cases teachers prefer to eb able to download the resources ahead of time to prevent bandwidth and firewall issues. Museums have a rich opportunity to become major providers of content to schools but the layers of obstacles to get the content into the classroom are challenging. - Psparrow Psparrow Oct 29, 2014
  • I think online learning has tremendous application for museums providing professional development for teachers. Museums and museum websites are rich in content that teachers can use to augment and supplement classroom lessons. Delivering this content in a way that both teaches the teacher and also provides additional resources for them to produce a lesson is key.- mcollerd mcollerd Oct 29, 2014
  • People are using online resources for learning much more than in the past. The availability of these resources is allowing people to find the information and skills they need, when they need it. It's changing the way that the general public educates itself. It impacts museums because people are not looking to us as the experts anymore since we are not the leaders in this content. - ortiz ortiz Oct 29, 2014 Agree - david david Nov 8, 2014David
  • I think there is a lot of scope for museums in this area but it's understanding exactly how teachers want to use the content. In the past, museums have tried to package content in ways that have not always been useful for teachers to use in a classroom. Museums have also struggled to promote their online content to schools in a very crowded market. It is often left to the education departments to do the 'marketing', which is outside their expertise, and it really needs to be led by a marketing department and digital media teams.- croyston croyston Nov 1, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Online learning includes a wide range of content types: an expert on camera delivering a lesson in a traditional lecture based manner, a collection of multimedia resources including videos, interactive modules and podcasts, primary source material including documents, newspapers, photographs, and artifacts, and digital assessment tools that track each individuals progress along a defined set of objectives and learning outcomes. - Psparrow Psparrow Oct 29, 2014
  • I think a theme that should be emphasized more is informal learning. Museums are by their nature informal learning institutions; how do we harness these strengths in a way that is effective and productive online? I'm also curious to tease out what learning is most effective online. - mcollerd mcollerd Oct 29, 2014 Agree! - david david Nov 8, 2014David

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • The greater presence museums can have in the classroom as a source of interactive, effective and fun learning tools, the more likely those students are to want to visit that museum and experience the content firsthand. It is vitally important that museums take a "lean in" approach to putting their content infront of the next generation using every tool available, especially mobile devices.
  • I see a great deal of resources for skill based online learning like coding, math, science, etc but less humanities based. Just looking at the subject that khan academy has available for online learning demonstrates this: http://www.khanacademy.org/math. There are tons of resources for math, science, economics, finance, etc but one section dedicated to the humanities. To further this discrepancy, the resources for the arts and history are limited to videos and text, nothing interactive to augment the learning. This gap I believe provides tremendous opportunities for museums as champions of both informal learning and inquiry based participatory experiences.- mcollerd mcollerd Oct 29, 2014
  • I don't think we can talk about this in the future-tense. Online learning is already here, and our audiences are already affected by it. Although it's not well organized, resources such YouTube and Wikihow are creating ways for people to educate themselves. There is so much information available online that it is easy for a user to cultivate the information they need, at their own level. Museums have been slow to respond to this trend. - ortiz ortiz Oct 29, 2014
  • I actually think that we can and must continue to speak about this in future-tense. Although online learning is here, it is still a dynamic process as technologies are developed and lost and are taken over by newer technologies, processes and platforms. We can not predict the future (after all, who would have really thought that Apple computer would become a phone/communication and music delivery company), but we can help influence, create and integrate it. We cannot forget that now everyone has access to online learning content. When people do come online, it is often at the point where technology is at, at that time. I'm the Instructional Technologist at a music school in Hollywood that is completely redoing the curriculum to a flipped-classroom model. Even though we have minimum system requirements, not everyone understands how to use or access it (both students and instructors). We are doing an incremental deployment to bring everyone on board, while continuing to develop (or at least strategize) for the future. After all, isn't this what we are al doing here now? - david david Nov 8, 2014David

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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