Speakers at the "Innovating for Tomorrow's Learners" Coursera conference. Andrew McKenna pictured third from the left.
Macquarie University's partner in online education, Coursera, held their 5th Annual Partners Conference "Innovating for Tomorrow's Learners" in late March.
A mix of great speakers explored the opportunities for students and educational institutions in the development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in the ever-changing online space. Coursera's Chief Executive Officer, Rick Levin, spoke about Coursera's innovative vision for online education, "We envision a world where anyone, anywhere can transform their life by accessing the world's best learning experience."
With 24 million learners on the platform and students from the smallest towns in Nairobi to the biggest towns of the United States of America engaging with content, the student community is truly global.
US Department of Education's Former Under Secretary Mr Ted Mitchell spoke about the changing needs of learners and employees in his talk "A New Ecosystem for Lifelong Learning."
"By 2021 lifelong learning will become an expectation and a reality," Mr Mitchell says. The 'new normal student,' he says, is demanding learning that is networked and interconnected over long distances with diverse teams.
Employees too, are demanding multi-skilled and adaptive employees that have the ability to connect knowledge across multiple disciplines.
The Big History Institute's Executive Director Mr Andrew McKenna explored the opportunities that arise when engaging with the online global community in his talk "Teaching the Global Learner."
Both the Big History: Connecting Knowledge MOOC and the Solving Complex Problems specialisation provide learners with the skills to connect knowledge and solve complex problems in a global workforce.
"Instead of asking 'what does the world need now?' I think you first need to ask "what do the learners of the world need now?" says Mr McKenna. This ensures that the content you produce is relevant and provides global learners with the skills to thrive in today's world." He spoke about the value of viewing MOOCs from their inception as global products, planning to exploit the opportunities of a global platform, and the lessons learnt from taking Big History courses to learners from many different countries and cultures around the world.
Speakers at the Coursera conference also considered the future of online education and what it may look like. Ashok K. Goel, a Professor of Computer Science and Cognitive Science in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology, shared his vision of a knowledge-based artificial intelligence. He asked "how might AI teaching assistants help make online learning effective?" Conference goers 'met' with Nano, Jill and Mia - all AI teaching assistants - more than capable of answering complex student enquiries.
The potential to transform education for students and lifelong learners through online education is boundless. Watch this space!
Start your online education with Big History: Register for Solving Complex Problems specialisation
Register for the Big History: Connecting Knowledge MOOC