Lets talk about what makes for the best online training. I recently reviewed an online traaining provider who basicaly uses some software like PCAnywhere or goToMyPC to allow students to connect to real PLCs inside a classroom with live instructor. Now that takes the typical online training using powerpoints and quizes, even ones that use simulation software, to a whole new level.
What are your thoughts?
We examined a number of cyber-school options that you may want to explore as well to see how they function. Here are a number of Links:
I've talked to a number of people at various Universities and Colleges and it seems that many have been concerned with the University of Phoenix on-line program and many schools are now looking at on-line as the most viable option: The Cyber formula is competing with brick-n-mortar.
As many of these schools expand and grow to compete with each other they seem to have been building various levels of their own software to cater individual schedules. Unlike many pre-conceived notions that where in place from the 70's about homeschooling (and a religious bent), much of the new cyber education uses some combination of cyber classroom, as you describe above, combined with "self-pacing" systems: A combination of books, workbooks, online software tutorials, etc. In fact, the ones that seem to be getting the most marketshare are the ones that have a bigger self pacing component as opposed to a set schedule of classes for on-line learning.
Although I must admit the online classroom is something to see: It's pretty amazing to watch and online class with kids that are geographically separated and only hooked through computer and headsets. The teacher enters the cyber classroom "Today we're going to talk about Rome" as the screen fills with an image from Google maps. Jumping from Harrisburg, the capitol of PA, zooming out and then zooming in for a 3D street view of the Coliseum. Soon after are video clips out-takes from Discovery Channel & History channel.
And I don't think it ends there. My son is in cyber school and he hops off his computer for lunch hooks up with his friend from the other side of PA on his xBox and they play piano together for fun and come up with songs. I think the generation that is growing up now is already accustomed to cyber learning and communication. As things like Skype and the iPad video conversations become more prevalent, I think we are going to see more and more demand for the kinds of things that you do: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.
If you want to talk to someone who's built their own learning system from the ground up then take a look in my contacts in LinkedIn for Dr. Nick Trombetta He's the CEO of PaCyber. Super guy. You could also reach out to Chris Phelps at PAVCS. She's my sister-in-law.
Let me know of any of this info is useful to you Don...
Thanks Bernie. What drove my interest into learning more about where the industry is and where it is going with online learning was actually my past experience with Universities implementing online learning programs. We have a partnership with one, and in monitoring their customer service to our customers, I noticed they took the typical college approach, not a business approach. (A college expects student/customer to conform to their ways, a business is expected to conform to the customer's ways.)
So I have been educating myself on the industry to see how our company can best change our online offerings to meet our standards, not some college stuck in a old mindset. Your input has really helped me out a lot in my journey. :>) As I get time, I will follow up on the great resources you provided.
I really enjoyed your comment
"A college expects student/customer to conform to their ways, a business is expected to conform to the customer's ways"
The interesting thing that seems to be happening with cyber education (elementary, middle, HS level) is that although they provide an alternative to the local school district they compete with each other. Not sure if you are aware of this or not, and it may be different in other locales, but in PA some of the monies that would go to the local school district via state and federal taxes, now goes to the cyber school of your choice. That is about $7800 year per student ("special needs" students, as dictated by PA Code Chapter 14 & Chapter 16 on a per head basis generate about $16,000/year to the districts... but even though the child enrolls in a cyber program the district only passes on the $7800 and pockets the rest in the district...)
So what all this means is unlike being in a set geographic district, the cyber schools are trying to come up with the best programs and process (listening to the customers) to compete for students. That is not only driving innovation but is making those students pretty competitive (IMHO) Where as the complaint in many districts has been "teaching to the test" mentality (as a result of No Child Left Behind legislation) the parents (consumers) do want their kids to do well on the PSSA standardized test but they also want the most robust set of solutions to meet their child's individual needs. It's lead to some good out of the box thinking from what I've seen... and that's why I suggested you might want to take a look at some of them. I think that most of the links in my posting take you right to the demonstrations of their "learning" products