Monday, May 27, 2013

Online Education: Live!

On of the powerful aspects of online education that really adds value is the live component. It is technically and logistically challenging to incorporate a live component into courses. However, the online classes that I've taken which have a live presentation and/or discussion make a world of difference.

To that end, CreativeLive offers many free live courses in the creative arts, including: software (photoshop, Dreamweaver...), photography, film and video, design, as well as business, etc. These are very practical skills that are well-suited to an online presentation. Even the business live presentation has the presenter with a small audience that asks clarification questions to keep the presentation alive and engaging.

The live component and the social interaction of participants is already changing how we learn and how we present information. The technology is still in its infancy, but as more tools get developed and the bandwidth expands so that hundreds of thousands can join in, the outcomes will improve over time.

Another online education firm that does not have a live component, but has honed the course material very well is Lynda. Lynda has numerous tutorials and training videos in topics including: accounting, software programming, social media marketing, digital publishing, finance, etc. These courses are more traditional tutorial in style, yet the diversity and simplicity make them a valuable resource. They've also developed a monthly membership business model that lets students take numerous courses for the flat monthly fee.

As the online education revolution unfolds, more and more firms will be experimenting with the combination of live and pre-recorded material. The potential for hundreds of thousands of students worldwide (as demonstrated through MOOCs, massive open online courses) has sparked the interest of Silicon Valley as investment opportunities. Now, with access to the internet, location is no longer a barrier to learning skills from some of the most talented teachers and practitioners worldwide.