The Learning Business – Latest Trends

I suppose every age has its excitements and its promise, but it sure does seem as if our present times are bursting at the seams with robust possibility, particularly in the field of learning. Here are a few things that caught my attention in the past two days alone that I thought were worth sharing. A New Species of BookThis video gives a bit of an introduction to David Eagleman, of Why the Net Matters, who claims he’s written and created a “new species of book.” Eagleman’s  book has the research built right into it so you can do more than peruse footnotes and search out sources at the library or on the internet.

It’s a very new kind of reading experience, one with 3D interactive figures, drill-downs in the text, random-access chapters, and a bird's eye view of one's place in the narrative.

For teachers of any age I think this application is inventive and exciting. Learners who like to read, listen, watch, and “let their fingers do the walking” will find it all in one place. Imagine the possibilities! A Caution about Reliance on Face-to-Face Workshops Are you in the teaching business? Do you rely primarily on face-to-face workshops to make your bottom line? Mark Silver, from Heart of Business (When you want to make a difference, but need to make a profit), cautions business owners and consultants about being over-reliant on in-person workshops. In his blog post – Why Doing Workshops Will Put You In the Poor House – he shares that new consultants will do just fine with relying on workshops but that over time you need to diversify. It’s clear to me that students of all ages are demanding a range of learning experiences along with a range of educational “products” they can engage with, at varying levels of commitment and investment. All you consultants out there . . . take heed! A Conversation about the Future of Education Whenever I drive from Maine to Massachusetts on I-95 I end up passing a huge brick building with University of Phoenix emblazoned on the side. Every time I think why is that here and not in Arizona? But of course we probably all know by now that the most profitable and one of the largest for-profit educational institutions has nothing to do with Arizona and everything to do with the mythical bird, which arises from the ashes and is born anew. I’ll admit I’ve paid the university very little mind until they began to advertise “The Conversation on the Future of Education” in The New Yorker. The university has teamed up with Vanity Fair and the New Yorker to “share ideas in online panel discussions.” While this online forum is maddeningly frustrating to scroll through, the content is of real interest. Here are a few samples of questions that are being asked.

What are some of the higher education models you believe are working? Broken? In need of some tweaks? How can we use technology to engage students in a way that achieves optimal understanding? A greater percentage of the populations cannot commit to a traditional 4-year college experience. Given the need for higher education to keep the US competitive, what solutions do you propose? What is the purpose of education in America? To become a more well-rounded individual? Or to prepare for a career?

Anyone working in the field of learning would do well to pay attention to and participate in this conversation. What new trends have you got your eye on?  

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