I have been an avid user of lynda.com since i made the decision to change careers. For me, it highlights everything that i love about the content of the new world of online education. The production value of the screen casts are top notch: great audio, great video. The teachers are pros who can teach very well. Everything is seamless. It is easy to see progress, and to save courses for later viewing. This model though differs greatly from the traditional mindset for a course at university. The subjects stand alone, however, they do show varying skill levels on different topics. Lynda.com tends to keep to anything computer or electronic based, and has rarely dived into the realm of the subjective topic: there are one or two classes on aesthetics or creative technique, but they are very short. Very important to note, Lynda.com is a subscription model.
I wanted to experience an all new MOOC, so I enrolled into a Coursera on statistics out of John Hopkins, a school well know for it’s public health degree and research. Stats is a bread and butter course, so I expect it to be well taught and show off coursera’s best traits. So far, it shares many similarities with lynda, but there are many cues that demonstrate it to be more open and more like actual higher education.
For one, all the content is downloadable into mp4 that can be easily watched on any device, mobile or laptop. There is a traditional syllabus, or roadmap of the content that is going to be explored. There is a rundown of the assessment and assignments required for certification. There are links to meetup and social encounters, online or in real time. In other words, coursera , although not as polished looking as lynda, fulfills some aspects of the paradigm Anya Kamenetz mentions: content, socialization, and assessment/ accreditation.
We visited General Assembly en masse this week. First off, I would like to thank GA for letting us see and somewhat disrupt their space. It was a busy hive of some sort of production. Unlike our shared space, the fruits of all that knowledge learning was hid in skulls and on screens. It was really an interesting space. Some people might call it graduate school for ITP, but i found it to be drastically different. It felt more like a market than a sandbox. The space is well thought out, with three levels of intensity (loud, conversational, and private study) well represented. I wish itp had the space for white booths in the hall. But something about the experience didn’t sit well for me. I hope to find out with our visit today.
One thing I found lacking in all these experience is a formal list of learning objectives. This was an issue at General Assembly as well. No one seems to tell the user what they will be able to do after learning this course. Either in generic terms or specific skills you will master after completing the course to the level deemed by the organizers. Learning objectives are just as important as a syllabus, and too often, they are left out of all manners of higher education learning.