Crowd shaped: The future of online learning?

The @chat2lrn crew are delighted to have a blog post this week from Kate Graham (@kategraham23) in which she explores Crowd Sourced Learning.

In 2012, technology and collaboration collided in a big way and started to change the face of learning. Crowd sourced learning projects were the big story last year, a trend that seems set to continue. Over $70 million was invested by venture capitalists in crowd sourced learning, across a range of social and business sectors. These sites like Udemy, Skillshare and in the UK, mylearningworx, take the wisdom of the crowd (i.e. any Internet user), validate it and share it in one easy to use place.

Although quite new, these crowd sourced learning hubs are already offering learners thousands of courses. They are also capturing the imagination of many more first-time e-learning authors, eager to profit from their knowledge or become a part of the new MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) which are appearing almost by the day in higher education in particular.

The background to this rise is the failure of the Internet search engines and social applications to deliver timely, authoritative answers to learning challenges, too often leading students down frustrating blind alleys. Crowd based learning hubs remedy that by providing an abundance of free or low cost structured learning programmes and easy to use tools to produce and offer them.

Social learning

Without doubt there is a wealth of learning already available online, much of it free. But the reality is most social media sites are designed for just that – social interaction – chatting, sharing views – all those great things we love to do. But not learning. Actually finding what you need to learn online can be difficult. And even if you can find what you need, it can be difficult to establish the authority and provenance of that information. A quick fix video on how to change a car part might be easy to find. Which is great in a performance support style context. But what if you want to learn a brand new skill? Chances are you’ll either spend a long time searching for the right information online, or have to pay serious money for it when you do find it.

The democratisation of learning

On the flip side, within organisations we’ve relied for too long on formal training, or ‘push’ rather than ‘pull’. Happily, times are changing and the move towards learning online and access to more informal resources is already well underway. However, much of what exists to support online learning has its roots in sluggish corporate models. Enterprise systems are designed specifically to handle the scale of data and information within large organisations. Which is great – if you’re a large organisation. Often the experience is not so great for all those learners within those organisations. Even less great for the tens of thousands of small and medium sized businesses out there with little hope of accessing this type of solution. And what about the Average Joe who just wants to learn a new skill but simply doesn’t have access to the right learning materials?

There is real momentum in the movement to open up the process of both learning and educating. Interestingly, L&D has been talking about building communities of learners for a while. But crowd sourcing content also gives rise to communities of authors, collaborating to create world beating content. And the platforms let them publish it to the widest possible audience (either for free or for a fee) meaning more learners than ever before can benefit from and share their skills and expertise.

Join us on Thursday at 08.00PST/11.00EST/16.00GMT when we will be – appropriately enough – crowd sourcing opinion on this current learning trend. We’ll discuss your thoughts on how the crowd can create good quality learning content, how it can be validated and if you could see it being used within your organisation. For further reading, check out

In her personal blog, Learning as I go, Kate describes herself as a ‘Marketing Girl’ who loves learning.  She has many years experience in Learning & Development is co-founder of start-ups mylearningworx (@mylearningworx) and Ascot Communications (@ascot_comms).  She is an avid Twitter fan, who always has something interesting to say, so why not follow her @kategraham23!

1 thought on “Crowd shaped: The future of online learning?

  1. Pingback: Crowd shaped: The future of online learning? | chat2lrn | ELearning |

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