Where LinkedIn Is Headed

LinkedIn has been around for more than a decade and is the social network for professionals with 433 million members in 200+ countries. It is still thought of by many people who use it and by those who don't use it as being just a "job site." And it is that, but it also became a B2B site. But beyond those B2B interactions and using it to find a job and advertise your personal brand, it has been getting much closer to the world of training and education.
LinkedIn certainly took note that online learning back in 2011 had about $35.6 billion spent on self-paced e-learning worldwide and in 2014, e-learning was a $56.2 billion industry. So, they spent $1.5 billion in 2015 to buy online training website Lynda.com. You want a new job, you quite possibly need new training. A natural combination for LinkedIn.
Perhaps, we will see LinkedIn begin to offer partnerships with colleges to offer some of that training - and I don't think those will be free and open courses (think MOOC) but rather paid professional learning. 
Inc.com has also identified publishing content as a place they see LinkedIn headed to now. Also a natural fit with training. They are already sharing professional content in partnerships with industry news publications and outlets, and they encourage crowd-sourcing of content. I share/publish native blog posts and re-posts there and it does give you a new and larger audience. There are also podcasts, tweets and videos inside the platform.
Higher education should be paying attention the road LinkedIn is traveling on, because it leads to their campus.

Blackboard’s Online Learning Trend Report Is A Bummer

Jon Kolko writes on the Blackboard Blog (May 27, 2016)  about a report on their research. There are a few really negative conclusions about online learning that go broader than any one LMS. Here are a few samples:

When students take a class online, they make a tacit agreement to a poorer experience which undermines their educational self worth.

Students take more pride in the skills they develop to cope with an online class than what they learn from it.

Online classes neglect the aspects of college that create a lasting perception of value.

I would recommend that you download the report itself.


NOTE: The post now includes an additional edit/addition/disclaimer:  "We don’t use our research to predict – we aren’t trying to look at a small sample in order to understand how our results generalize to a larger population. Instead, Design Research is about trying to build empathy with people in order to provoke new design ideas. As a result, we don’t seek to avoid bias, and instead select our participants based on a research profile."


Google Goes Deeper Into Education

Google has been getting deeper into education, particularly into higher education. For example, their interest in creating a technically skilled, innovative and diverse workforce has moved them into computer science (CS) education.

That is a logical path for the company and they are interested in developing programs, resources, tools and community partnerships which make CS engaging and accessible for all students.

In STEM generally, women and minorities are historically underrepresented and that's true for computer science at the post-secondary level. In the U.S., women and ethnic minorities each represent just 18% of computer science graduates.professional experience.

You would expect Google to have sophisticated analytics, and analytics in online education software is a key feature in an LMS today as a way to understand how students are doing in greater detail than is possible by trying to do it manually. Course Builder offers several built-in analytics that require little set-up and also options for creating custom analytics using Google Analytics and Google BigQuery. They do note that not everything is free - running either type of custom analytics counts against your App Engine quota and can incur costs.

Course Builder is part of their overall education strategy. Check these links for more information:

Open Line Education https://www.google.com/edu/openonline/  

Course Builder Features https://www.google.com/edu/openonline/course-builder/docs/1.10/feature-list.html

One feature is accessibility https://www.google.com/edu/openonline/course-builder/docs/1.10/feature-list.html#accessibility 

Peer Review https://www.google.com/edu/openonline/course-builder/docs/1.10/feature-list.html#peer-review


Distance Ed’s Second Act

by Phil Hill via chronicle.com

Now that the MOOC hype has died down and almost no one is arguing that those free online courses will upend the traditional university, are we instead entering a period where online education is having a real impact on the core of higher education? Not just for the for-profit outliers and not just for distance-education titans like Rio Salado College and Liberty University, but for the mainstream? While I would not argue that fundamental change has already occurred, there are some signs of a turning point.

The Babson Survey Research Group, which has tracked online college enrollment for the past 12 years, reports growth from 9 percent of U.S. students taking at least one course online in the fall of 2002 to more than 28 percent in the fall of 2014. The overall growth has slowed recently, but the drastic decrease in for-profit enrollment masks two very interesting numbers:

Sixty-seven percent of students taking online courses do so at public institutions.

The number of students at public and private nonprofit colleges who took at least one online course rose by 26 percent in just two years (2012-2014).                read the full article

Minds Online

brainOnline courses have definitely opened access to students in remote areas. They also offer option to people with learning requirements that require more flexibility with meeting times, and more critically with issues of physical accessibility and even learning disabilities.

There are lots of books, articles and theses devoted to this research on teaching with technology. More recently, I see research on the ways in which online teaching can improve learning for all students.

More and more traditional, full time, on or near campus students add online courses to their schedule. In many cases, it's for the same reasons as students at a distance - time scheduling around work, and enjoying the freedom and different approaches to learning an online class offers.

We don't hear these courses and programs referred to much anymore as "distance learning" because distance is not the biggest factor for enrollments.

Michelle Miller, a professor of psychological sciences and co-director of the first-year learning program at Northern Arizona University, usually researches language and memory, but a newer book by her looks at the role technology can play in improving the learning experiences of all students. That research appears in Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology.

In an article on chronicle.com, she says that "One of the reasons Northern Arizona University values teaching with technology is our geography and location. We’re located in the middle of some vast, sparsely populated spaces, and a major part of our mission as an institution is to serve the educational needs of the people spread throughout these spaces. Especially critical is our commitment to serving the needs of Native American students, many of whom live or spend time in rural reservation communities." 

It is only recently that educational technology has mixed with neuroscience and cognitive psychology to design with the brain in mind. These designers are considering how attention, memory, critical thinking, and analytical reasoning can be used for technology-aided approaches. This approach seems relevant for teachers and instructional designers.

Online courses by their very delivery seem to be a natural pathway to using technology for learning. Miller says that cognitive psychologists already knew that frequent checks for learning (quizzing) is beneficial to learning. This "testing effect" doesn't work very easily in a traditional classroom. In an online course, repeated quiz attempts with different questions and adaptive learning techniques to adapt a quiz's topics or questions to an individual student is easier. Of course, this technology can also be used with students in an actual classroom with some course retooling.

This is a key concept for Miller who suggests that "for more complex activities such as problem-solving exercises, simulations, and case studies. Using online tools, we can set up multiple scenarios, present them as many times as we want, and customize the content or pacing for different students. We know from research that effortful practice is the way to master complex skills, and technology offers new ways to lead students into this effortful practice."

Miller's book is not just theory. In the chapter on "Putting It All Together," she offers a sample syllabus for an online course with commentary linking the policies to the cognitive principles covered in the book. 

Aligning online pedagogy with learning science and putting instructional design and cognitive science together into usable design principles seems to be a worthy, though difficult, process.