What could digital mean for training and learning?

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What could digital mean for training and learning?

As some of you may know, this month we’ve been running our online campaigning training, Kickstart Your Online Campaign. And, it’s got me thinking about online learning and the place of digital in teaching and learning.

I’ve blogged before about how digital can help raise money, raise awareness, engage people, solve problems, and increase inclusivity and breakdown barriers, and how, in all these ways, digital presents amazing opportunities and benefits for the third sector. And other sectors are no different, tech and digital also present a lot of opportunities when it comes to education.

You can see it in traditional education institutions, like schools and universities. For example, the growth of ‘blended learning’ (which combines traditional face-to-face teaching methods with online activities), more ‘distance learning’ courses being offered (which allow you to study a course without having to physically attend the university or college), and the huge amounts of money universities are investing in ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ or ‘MOOCs’ (the average cost of creating a MOOC being estimated at around £29,356). And you can see it in training and learning more broadly, with the increasing popularity of online training courses (think of sites like FutureLearn that allow people to enroll on courses provided by a whole range of institutions, organisations, and experts).

Online might be a better way for us to learn, for example video is a fantastic way to communicate complex information, since our brains can absorb information 60,000 times faster by video than text. And a great benefit of online learning is the ability to reach bigger and more widely dispersed audiences who can study at their own pace. For example, just last month, the Prince’s Trust announced the launch of a new platform which will allow people to access their programmes online, saying “[it] will give anyone, anywhere and in any circumstance, the chance to complete a program at their own speed”.

But teaching online can also create barriers, for example learners need to be able to access certain equipment (i.e. a computer and decent internet) and they’ll need a certain level of digital literacy, and I’ve blogged before about how digital and tech can introduce other accessibility barriers, as well as removing them. Plus, despite ideas and hopes that online courses will increase the diversity of students, there are many studies suggesting that most people accessing MOOCs are “white males with a bachelor’s degree and a full-time job”. And there’s a question about quality. Sites like Teachable and Udemy allow anyone to create online courses, so how do you monitor and maintain standards? If you’re looking for online training, how do you know what’s good?

Like most things, there are positives and negatives here, as well as a lot of questions. And I would love to know what you think about all of this, and what digital could mean for public teaching and learning. Is your organisation thinking about using webinars or courses to engage with the public? Have you experienced online training yourself? How do we ensure that all learning is accessible? Let me know in the comments below, email me at info@fancyguppydigital.com, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Michaela Hodges, Fancy Guppy (13th September 2016) Benefits to non-profits of using digital, and why they don’t

Higher Education Academy: Blended Learning

Lucy Tobin, Guardian (19th April 2011) Get a degree by ‘blended learning’

Kerri Morgan, Times Higher Education (24th May 2016) Moocs prove that universities can and should embrace online learning

Chris Parr, Time Higher Education (23rd April 2015) Moocs: fluctuating rates in online investment

Austin Clark, Charity Digital News (13th June 2017) Prince’s Trust boosts access through new online platform

Martin Baker, Guardian Voluntary Sector Network (21st July 2017) Video is the future of learning for charities

Michaela Hodges, Fancy Guppy (7th July 2017) Does digital help make our world more inclusive and accessible?

Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education (21st July 2016) Moocs can transform education – but not yet

Jiyuan Yu and Zi Hu, World Economic Forum (2nd September 2017) Is online learning the future of education?

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