Is there still a need to sit down with friends and tip a waiter at a restaurant?

Here is my answer to the question I came across on Quora earlier today. Is the future of online education synchronous (live classes at scheduled times), asynchronous (learn on your own schedule at your own pace), or somewhere in between?

It is my opinion that students will choose based on their expectation of learning. Do they want to learn in a community with other learners? Or do they want to learn, self-paced? While I hate it, in some ways I am leading toward a more JIT model as where we are headed.

We order fast food all the time, it is cheap, easy to order, and we can eat it in our car. The same is true for an asynchronous open course that we can access on our phones! Is there still a need to sit down with friends and tip a waiter at a restaurant? Do we need synchronous course any more?

I have come across some research lately that discusses how thousands of people a week are accessing MOOCs that are already completed (see Does it matter if you are late to class in a MOOC? Thousands a week still register for MOOCs even after they are completed…). So then we might think:

  • Do they really need to be offered live?
  • Does the live instructor support increase learning?
  • Does the community cohort of students learning together actually help students—that did come to class—succeed?
  • Is there more to attending class to the end in a live MOOC than a statement of accomplishment?

The obvious answer from my perspective would be yes, but then why are thousands enrolling to learn after the class is over?

Don’t get me wrong. There is great value in learning with a group of students and with an instructor. These connections are key and in my opinion a richer form of learning. But is that what the currently culture wants?


About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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