Sunday, November 17, 2013

Learning as a Service?

I'd like to explore the usefulness of a 'learning as a service' metaphor in thinking about learning technologies. Technologies are often applied to implement existing conceptions of learning.

Some technologies can disrupt learning and teaching but often underlying assumptions and existing cultures and expectations often remain the same.

Today some learning technologies use 'software as a service' and 'infrastructure as a service' models that distribute technology resources and knowledge in new ways to meet industry and end-user needs.

Can these 'as a service' IT metaphors also challenge and inform our thinking when applied to learning?

Software as a Service (SaaS) has the following characteristics: On demand, customised, distributed, responsive, integrated, collaborative...

In the IT industry the service-oriented principle is about decoupling services from appliances, modularisation, discoverability of services, technology independency, freedom from context...

These characteristics appear to have much in common with contemporary directions in learning: personalised, just-in-time, just-enough, any-where, any-time, any-one, collaborative, responsive, holistic...

Do new service provision possibilities appear if we use a 'learning as a service' metaphor when thinking about using digital technologies for the provision of learning, teaching and assessment services?

Are there different ways of distributing learning resources, learning environments, learning tools, support, facilitation, teaching... that meet learner and system needs?

Does a 'learning as a service' model suggest

  • decoupling learning services from systems, institutions, places, courses and levels
  • providing individuals, homes and communities with direct access to learning services
  • providing individuals free access to just-in-time and just-enough learning bites
  • using open badges to invite discovery of journeys to further learning and skill development
  • default education licensing of teacher and learner learning artefacts and resources through AusGOAL
  • provide learner access to high-end learning services such as virtual labs, 3D printing, immersive environments...
  • gaining revenue through fee-for-service accreditation and learner support
  • provision of an authenticated 'education/learner' online identity
  • campus/home/work place/community learning service portability and increased capacity through BYOLT (Bring Your Own Learning Technologies)

Is the 'learning as a service' metaphor a useful bridge between current trends in IT and education?

Where does the application of this metaphor break down when applied to learning?