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.