Can Changing Our Basic Approaches to Learning Change Our Basic Thinking Around R&D?

Some recent exchanges on the platform have echoed wider conversations about shifts taking hold in our approaches to learning.  When looking at developments like the meteoric rise of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) it is tempting to think about this in terms of what we have today. We may leap to ask for example, “are platforms like UdacityCourseraand EdX a good replacement for universities as we know them today?”

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Player leegreen put this question out and got a wide variety of responses:

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This thinking has driven much of the debate around these tools, but may be the wrong starting point for exploring the ultimate impact that this shift could have.

Just two years ago, tens of thousands of learners around the world were working their way through the first MOOC, a class in Artificial Intelligence offered by Stanford and taught by rockstar professors Sebastian Thrun and Perter Norvig. From the beginning, however, this shift started to catalyze additional innovations – students forming Meetup Groups to replicate the peer interactions of traditional classrooms, for example.  This process of rethinking basic assumptions and structures, rather than MOOCs themselves, is likely to be the real legacy of this transitional period in education. Right now, we have the opportunity to consciously rethink and redesign our approaches to learning. Player jeanette reinforces this by encouraging us to think about learning beyond the confines of time spent in school.

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It is exciting to speculate about exactly what experiences are likely to make a person an extremely good researcher, and how (with or without traditional classrooms and degree packages) these experiences could be offered to as many people as possible?

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For example, Matt Stitz suggests the importance of looking beyond institutions and learning from nature – which raises questions about how to inspire a new generation of researchers to constantly seek out moments of learning  in the world around them.

Recent developments suggest that new thinking in this space is already underway. EdX, for example, has already begun to partner with companies interested in making massive learning experiences a central part of their strategy as “learning organizations.”

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NASA_Marty and Gardener  talk about the importance of adopting a life-long-learning attitude, but without support from employers it can be difficult to find time or motivation.

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Ultimately, this is only the beginning of a goosebump-raising innovation process at the heart of learning itself.

Here are a few other great ideas about what lies beyond today’s MOOCs

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Thanks to Devin Fidler for his contributions to this post, and his ongoing awesome thinking about the future of education!

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