Online Education: the next 20 years?

September Issue

CAPDM Newsletter


CAPDM Thoughts

Online Education: the next 20 years?

Dear Reader,

Every so often another future-looking paper appears predicting how higher education will look in the years ahead. This week we read a new white paper from Blackboard.

While well worth reading, there is an obvious focus on technology, with many predictions about AI, adaptive learning, etc. What is singularly lacking, in my view, is any mention of developing online pedagogies that result in the delivery of a high quality experience. MOOCs typify how many an individual ‘hacks’ together an online course, using some ‘easy to hack’ tool.  Little thought is generally given, however, to the way an institution may actually want to deliver its teaching to online students.

One of our big university clients has thought this through well.  Here is a quote from their academic’s guide:

[Our pedagogic model] is a new delivery model for distance and flexible learning, with innovative use of technology and programme design. Essential readings are fully integrated into the online content; student progress is constantly tracked and reviewed at key intervention points and support is provided to ensure optimum module success rates. The programmes will provide opportunities to acquire skills and competencies defined in competency frameworks that, in turn, will lead to career development and professional level recognition by relevant professional bodies.

There are a number of key elements contained in this model, for example:

  • careful design;
  • fit-for-purpose content;
  • tutor monitoring functionality;
  • feedback;
  • education aligned to competency needs.

These are not features offered by ‘easy to use’ tools, but they part of an online learning strategy supporting a sustainable business. With such planning, design and sound pedagogy at the heart of scalable, repeatable online course development their online learning programmes can begin to offer an equivalent to the on-campus experience. Surprisingly, this comes at very little extra cost – if any.

Interestingly the technology can actually be a restriction rather than an aid, particularly in the case of learning environments. Most are quite impoverished when it comes to supporting the way you might want to deliver your online teaching. If there is one thing I’ve learned from 40 years in IT it’s that IT should bend to support your business, not the other way round.

So how would we like to see higher education change over the next 20 years? For a start we would like to see proper thought being given to delivering a high quality of online education – including using the technology, but not being driven by it. This is where CAPDM can set you off on the right track.

Please do get in touch to see how we can help you.

Email me now.

Ken Currie
Director, CAPDM Ltd.


About the author
Ken Currie has been working with universities for over 25 years developing their strategies and businesses in online distance learning (ODL). In the early 1990s, he was the key designer/developer of the globally successful Heriot-Watt online MBA and undergraduate Management Programme, and has continued to develop ODL businesses with other institutions in the UK and beyond. In recent times he helped to initiate ‘Global Online’ at Edinburgh Napier, and the ‘One World’ MBA at West of Scotland universities, and currently works closely with the University of London’s International Academy.


CAPDM Case Study

Transnational Online Education

University West of Scotland

Our involvement in building a coherent content domain for UWS’ MBA, incorporating recognised texts from a number of the big publishers.

CAPDM Case Study

A New World Class

Edinburgh Napier University

How we helped ENU build their Global Online programme, which is now supporting over 1,000 students worldwide.

This newsletter was originally sent by CAPDM Ltd. on the 12. September 2017.

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