Below is a six minute talk by Sir John Daniel, who headed the Open University between 1990 and 2001, and who therefore knows a lot about large-scale distance learning.
Based on work by Tony Bates, Daniel's carefully summarises three key developments in online learning, focusing on the US.
- the proportion of students embracing online learning is growing fast;
- for-profit providers dominate the market because they have understood the importance (for doing things at scale and for achieving consistent quality) of the division of labour and of specialisation, and because they've understood how students need the flexibility of online learning if they are to earn whilst they learn;
- public providers wanting to get in on the act need either to do it in partnership with private providers, or they need to move to a team-based approach in which different parts of provision are done by people with different roles;
- the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement is now taking off, with Governments cottoning on to the advantages of OER, and the cost savings to be had from them;
- mobile, connected technology is becoming ubiquitous and cheap and will change the face of provision because "people can now access learning almost anywhere and in many formats".