What’s next in online education?

By Laura Bergells on

Earlier this year, I wrote and performed Public Speaking Fundamentals for the Lynda.com Online Training Library. I wrote the scripts from April through June, and then flew out to California to shoot the series in July. The course went live on August 31. Go check it out — beyond my course, Lynda.com provides a massive library of very high quality video instruction. (Get 10 days of free unlimited access to lynda.com.)

Now that it’s October, I find myself back in the traditional classroom. I’m teaching Creativity in Marketing and Social Media/Web Marketing at Grand Valley State University. And I coach/train corporate clients, as well.

I enjoy teaching. Always have.

But it’s not a classroom that makes you a teacher. More likely, it’s a passion for learning and the desire to enthusiastically share knowledge makes you a teacher.

Other than the traditional classroom, there must be a zillion different ways to teach and learn. Some of the best computer programmers I’ve ever worked with are self-taught. They read, they tinker, they pick things apart, they experiment…and they become absolutely phenomenal at what they do.

My Lynda.com adventure this year got me thinking — what’s next with education? I see and hear vivid discussions about college courses going online. For example, sites like Coursera partner with top universities to offer college courses online — for anyone, for free. Other sites like Udemy and Skillshare let teachers create and market hybrid courses that can feature both online learning as well as in-person workshops.

Where are we going with online education? I hear mixed reviews. Some of my colleagues and students bristle at the idea of online education: they feel it cheapens the credential of obtaining a ‘real’ education in the ‘real’ world. Others view online education as new material that can help enhance the learning experience.

Obviously, I’m biased. After all, I’m a learning junkie. And I never would have participated in the Lynda.com adventure if I didn’t believe in the quality and efficacy of online education. (And did I mention that Lynda.com people are particularly great at delivering high quality content?)

On the other hand, I also believe we learn tremendous amounts by bumping into each other in the real world. Grand Valley State University fosters a diverse and inclusive atmosphere. When students get to jam it up with people with different backgrounds and perspectives, why, that in itself drives creativity and innovation.

I have my own opinions, but I’d like to hear yours.

Where are we going with online education? What’s new — and what’s next?