Thursday, December 11, 2014

E-learning: The Rise of the Digital Edupreneurs--Part I

One of the great needs of  21st century education is the need for prolific learners who will be the change leaders of this century and the next. One of the great changes that is coming and that is on the doorstep is the rise of "digital edupreneurs".


Presently in many nations students graduate from colleges and universities without hope of acquiring employment in their chosen field and deeply in debt. There is a growing wave of discontent among graduates to the extent that they are choosing to go a different route, that being to use the Internet as a vehicle for not only continuing their education but also as a way of creating new companies based upon their own new online skill sets. For many it had started already when they realized that they could earn an income through designing mobile apps for Apple and Google devices. Now the focus for much of the effort is on E-Learning applications that range from the design of MOOCS to helping corporations develop effective synchronous and asynchronous learning activities for in house training programs. Many have developed connections with others on a global scale who then collaborate to develop these applications and to solve world issues that they are contracted to look at.

What we are seeing is a transformation from the passive learner of the past to an active and proactive learner and change agent of the future. To maintain this evolution of the digital learner to the digital edupreneur, a number of changes need to occur in the learning lives of the educator, learner, and the online instructional designer. They are all interrelated which means a change in the educational life of one brings about a change in the life of another.

Peter Senge in his book titled: "The Fifth Discipline-The Art and Practice of a Learning Organization"(1990) posed the question: "How can we create effective learning environments for students without first creating them for their educators?" Students need to be inspired by those who educate them but how can an educator do this when the very conditions needed to foster inspiration are not even present for him or her as a learner? The reason these conditions don't exist for the educator is because he or she is pressed to labour under a model of education whose intent was never to foster the creativity of the educator in creating effective learning experiences but instead was to instill compliance to a prescribed curriculum whose leaders maintain the status quo at all costs. The role of the educator as a change agent with the mission to apply a transformative pedagogy can change this impasse. The modelling of this role in his or her own learning before their students in a consistent fashion will inspire learners to do the same.


In order to develop the continued growth of future digital edupreneurs, learners need to be challenged in ways that creates the attitude in them that they are accountable for what they create. It has been far too easy for students to opt out of this accountability for what they contribute to their learning in the past. After all, to them these exercises were just contrived lessons that never really went beyond the classroom in any impactful manner. A new attitude of accountability would say to the student that I am accountable for what I learn and create because it makes a difference to others beyond my education grouping. Others beyond my educational grouping will seek to understand my proposals and will critically acclaim or dismiss what I have to say. As an accountable learner, I have to be prepared to defend what I propose and be open minded enough to modify what I create. The world is my audience for what I learn and create.

More later on the perspectives of the online instructional designer and his or her relationship to the learner and educator as well as an essential need for an ethical framework that focuses on integrity.

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