Traditional Learning Model Shifting To More Social And Online Setting

November 26th, 2011


According to the ninth annual “ Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011” survey, the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6 million.  Now nearly one-third of all students in higher education are taking at least one online course.  The survey is based on responses from over 2,500 academic leaders, and is a leading barometer of online learning in the United States.

Key report findings include:

  • Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year.
  • The 10% growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population.
  • Thirty-one percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
  • Reported year-to-year enrollment changes for fully online programs by discipline show most are growing.
  • Academic leaders believe that the level of student satisfaction is equivalent for online and face-to-face courses.
  • 65% of higher education institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long-term strategy.

By 2015, 25 million post-secondary students in the United States will be taking classes online.  The number of students who take classes exclusively on physical campuses are expected to plummet, from 14.4 million in 2010 to just 4.1 million five years later, according to a new forecast released by market research firm Ambient Insight.

With a new generation of worker, having previous experience with both online classes and social learning, entering the work force it is imperative for all businesses to re-evaluate the way they offer job training.  The shift in the teaching and learning paradigm (the old Carnegie model) is steadily evolving as technology itself does (the Computer-mediated model).  Learners are becoming more responsible for discovery and self-learning while teachers take on the role of facilitator.   Occupying a seat in a physical classroom for a specific period of time is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule.   With online access and a laptop computer or mobile tablet, learners are never more than a click away from the classroom.

Social Learning is here to stay.

The rapid growth in social learning isn’t likely to fade anytime soon either.  Social learning takes place at a wider scale than individual or group learning, up to a societal scale, through social interaction between peers.  According to  What is Social Learning? by Mark Reed, to be considered social learning, a process must:

  1. demonstrate that a change in understanding has taken place in the individuals involved;
  2. demonstrate that this change goes beyond the individual and becomes situated within wider social units or communities of practice; and
  3. occur through social interactions and processes between actors within a social network.

Social learning is not necessarily based on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL).  Rather it’s where learning takes place via social interaction often times through the Internet (Skype, YouTube, Dropbox, Facebook,  Moodle, etc.).  The process assumes that knowledge (as meaning and understanding) is socially constructed.  Learning takes place through conversations about content and grounded interaction about problems and actions.  Social learning is one of the best ways to gain a deeper understanding and learn something because it allows you to teach it to others.  It also aligns very well to how adults tend to learn the best.

Adults are autonomous and self-directed. They need to be free to direct themselves and are relevancy-oriented relying heavily on life experiences and knowledge that may include work-related activities, family responsibilities, and previous education to advance their learning.

E-Learning budgets Increasing

ASTD’s 2010 State of the Industry Report shows that elearning is still increasing as it now accounts for 27.7 percent of corporate training, its highest level since ASTD began collecting data on the use of technology for this report 14 years ago (in 2008, it was 23.1 percent). By virtually every measure, traditional learning model are shifting away from the classroom experience as e-learning experiences unprecedented growth and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

With new technology being developed and continuously implemented,  it isn’t surprising that successful companies are those that believe in lifelong learning for their workers. In order to survive in this new learning environment your company will need to develop strong online and social learning processes.