“Are virtual universities the future of learner-centered education?”

Someone in my extended LinkedIn network asked this question using the LinkedIn Q&A feature. I’ve already added my answer, but if you have an opinion and have a LinkedIn account, go share your thoughts. Questions are only open for a week, I believe, and this one was posted yesterday, so don’t wait too long.

I will point out that in her extended question, she seems to confuse “learner centered” with “learner controlled.” She also equates “learner centered” with virtual learning, and implies that neither face-to-face nor traditional e-learning is actually learner centered.

I’ll admit that part of why I want some other people to add their voices is to counter responses like this one, which was added after mine by a Chris Forbes:

If you live on a mountain then that is a good thing, but there is no subsitute from the debate and learnings who achieve at a physical unversity and there never will be.

(I copied and pasted directly from Forbes’ response, so the spelling and grammar errors are his. I started to add some [sic] notations to the quote, but decided it looked silly having multiple notes in such a short quote. Personally, this is one more reason that I love Firefox–automatic spellcheck within textboxes!)

On a related note, I think that the LinkedIn Q&A feature is a great example of informal networked learning. You ask a question, which anyone can answer. However, the default view for questions (just like nearly everything else in LinkedIn) is by how close the person is to you in your network. I just wish there was an RSS feed for me to see every time someone from my network posted a question, rather than only telling me when I actually log in to LinkedIn. You can subscribe to the RSS feed for a particular topic, such as education, but not to your network or to the answers for a specific question (and coComment doesn’t pick up these comments either). Still, it’s interesting to see a tool that is more explicitly about using your network to learn, even if it still has some glitches.

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