"Knowledge is power."
Sir Francis Bacon, Religious Meditations, Of Heresies, 1597
English author, courtier, & philosopher (1561 - 1626).
Most learning has always been independent but not most formal education. Now e-learning is emancipating learners who want formal education, on their own terms.
Although no one disputes the contribution of teachers and fellow learners, formal learning has been possible by learners working independently since Sir Isaac Pittman began teaching shorthand by postal correspondance in 1840.
Independent learners have long been ignored by classroom instructors and professors who prefer to believe that they are necessary for learning.
Independent learners have been spurned by institutions that want to apply cost-effective batch-manufacturing techniques to education.
Learning indepedence may be in the nature of a person or it may result from special needs, such as achieving certification by a certain date while not being able to take time off from travel and other job duties to learn with cohorts.
Though truly indepedent learners will probably never be a majority, they are a crucial segment of learners.
And independent learners, because they learn for their own reasons, are more likely to apply what they learn.
E-learning for independent learners must provide tools and techniques that let learners learn what they want to learn, when they want to learn, and in the way they want to learn.
Independent learning requires:
Simple, reliable tools. Independent learners need to be able to take e-learning on their own, without the support of an IT department.
Tools for individuals and small groups. Independent learners must be able to spontaneously create and engage in learning events.
Independent certification of learning. Independent learners crave valid assesments that are independent of how learning was accomplished.
Educational institutions and professional organizations can assist independent learners by helping them document their learning and obtain credentials attesting to their knowledge and skills.
Independent learning presages the era of consumer control of e-learning. Until now, most of the decisions about the form and content of e-learning were made by those who knew best, that is, the producers of e-learning.
That was appropriate. Only the producers knew waht the technlogy could do.
Independent learners will revolutionize e-learning. They will provide of tools and learning content with complete, detailed specifications of what they want.
They will report a million bugs and make a billion informed suggestions.
Economics will be guided by what people want and are willing to pay for rather than what someone convinced a venture capitalist would sell.
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