Blogathon: #22 – Learning Designers

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Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users writes a followup to an earlier post about the relevance of college in today’s world, and goes through the various options for learning. She then brings up this idea:

Maybe there should be third-party “learning designers” who you pay to plan and choose the best options and put together a perfectly tailored custom program from a variety of learning vendors (instead of throwing all your learning eggs into one school basket) that still includes some general education, but in the way that makes the most sense for that particular student, and uses both online, distance, and *some* face-to-face learning. If a parent (and more importantly, the student) thinks that leaving home is important, that can be a component as well (although I’m still voting for the crash-course with a backpack and a rail pass thing). The students could go to a kind of “advanced learning camp” that could be anything from an off-campus dorm (complete with cafeteria), or something more primitive.

I thought this was a very interesting idea. Learning does come from more than one source, and it makes sense to take full advantage of this and diversify your learning experiences.

For instance, I could pick one or two courses in uni that I thought were interesting. I could then link them up with a year of touring Up With People, followed by a year’s worth of work experience in the field (internships, volunteering, jobs). Along the way, I could encounter a great learning opportunity, and have the time and space to take that on. I’m learning not for the sake of a degree or a certificate, but because it’s what I’m interested in.

This could be run Scout-style, or International-Award-style. Prepare a list of subject matter – Travel, Engineering, Non-Profits, Computing, Underwater Basketweaving, and so on. Under each subject matter, organize opportunities. For instance, under Travel you’d have listings for study-abroad groups or working holidays. Under Non-profits you’d have a job ad from a charity, or a university course on non-profit management. You’d make your choices, and then you’d communicate with a facilitator who would help schedule everything, suggest related options, and help organize your materials for entry (for instance, student visas for overseas study). You could set a learning plan for yourself and have this facilitator guide you and monitor your progress. Once you’ve accomplished your plan, you can get a certificate outlining your learning acheivements. You could also build up a portfolio, which would be very handy in job searches or networking. Accreditation would be handled by the specific party providing the opportunity – the learning designers just sort out the opportunities that come their way.

This was the idea we were trying to get at with Brick In The Wall (now under new management) – providing and suggesting options for alternative learning. It would be very interesting to see how such a system would work. Would anyone be up for it? Does it already exist?

If you could design your own learning path, how would it look like?

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