Its unlikely that any of us will forget 2016 in a hurry, but amongst the political fireworks and celebrity mortalities, Tutorhub turned in another record year. Record visits to the website, record visits to the blog and record numbers of lessons held. Tutorhub hosted more than twice as many lessons in 2016 as in 2015.
Every month might bring a new record, but on behalf of all of us in the Tutorhub Team, we’d like to say a big thank you to students with their thirst for knowledge and to tutors who continue to show up in their droves with knowledge that stretches from the mainstream through to the most specialised corners of academia and professional education.
Replacing the nineteenth century model of learning model has been surprisingly slow and difficult. It may be due to the role that government plays in education, the politicisation of education on many countries or even due to resistance from parts of the teaching profession, but there is no denying that despite the advent of MOOCs, online learning environments and web resources, innovation has happened at the periphery, not the core of education. Given the importance of education and status of qualifications in our society, this is perhaps as it should be; no one wants to be the guinea pig for a failed educational revolution. Technology has had to prove its value and innovation has happened in a step-wise fashion. Which makes the emergence of social-networked learning in tertiary education particularly interesting.
Global access to high-quality online materials, open courses, peer discussion and a decentralised perspective to create communities of learning comprising teachers/lecturers and students form the architecture of social-networked learning. These building blocks are gradually being put in place and a tipping point may be closer than we think. The promise of lower cost, greater flexibility and increased access are very real, but the key may be that it does not require revolution, but evolution. Implementation can occur from the periphery towards the core and slip from tertiary through to secondary via more obscure subjects that lack critical mass – witness the uproar in the UK when certain subjects such as Art History were recently scheduled for elimination from the A level syllabus.
At long last, a path to innovation in education is becoming clearer. Change may be happening at a slower pace than some predicted, which is understandable, but the direction of travel is becoming clear. As with all things, once you know where you are going, the journey is much easier of you know where you are going.
Online learning has typically been viewed as a tool for academic learning at either secondary or tertiary level, but the Swiss State Secretariat for Education (SERI) have recently been extending online education to the vocational sphere. DUAL-T is a research project that aims to bridge the gap between classroom and workplace The core concept of a shared ‘Erfaherraum’ or experience space using online technologies as a bridge between the two worlds’ is another example of how e-learning and shared educational spaces are beginning to bring innovation into the world of education.
With the acceptance of collaborative tools like Slack in the workplace, it is inevitable that the historic monolithic model of education that we’re used to begging to break down towards a more collaborative model and one that works at the pace of the learner, not the provider. Online educational technologies work because they reduce the cost of more personalised education. At Tutorhub, we see an enormous range of academic and professional tuition being provided to students at all levels, but DUAL-T marks the arrival online education in the field of vocational training.
It would be fair to say that most people respect the right of other people to hold an opinion different to their own. Its been somewhat tested of late, but its pretty much a cornerstone of our democracy. But whilst everyone is welcome to their own opinion, there seems to be a growing belief in certain quarters that every opinion is equally valid. Its clearly nonsense, but the idea that experts have no more to say on a subject than a lay person is not only incorrect, its downright dangerous. Just because an expert isn’t always correct in their assessment, it doesn’t mean their opinion should be held equally valid with someone who knows nothing at all about a subject. Unfortunately, the internet seems to be playing a part in this trend – mainly as a source of ‘instant opinions’. Doctors have gotten used to patients arriving in surgery with a firm view of whats wrong with them garnered from a self diagnosis and a round trip of medical websites using Google. But only the seriously misguided trust a Google search result over a doctors consultation. At its core, this is an attack on learning, something that Tutorhub cares about very much. We have spent a considerable amount of time, effort and resources to make available people who actually know what they are talking about on a wide range of subjects. Some know more than others, some have different styles of teaching, some are older, some are younger, but the whole point of Tutorhub is to learn from someone who knows more about a subject than you do.
An expert in other words.
We firmly believe that you can’t know everything all the time; its the smart person who recognises when they need help and reaches out to others to get it. So for all the worlds experts, we know that you’re not always right, but those of us here at Tutorhub are on your team.