There is a group of us who gather regularly in Second Life (come join us in Bam) to talk about a lot of things, but most things of an educational nature. lately we have been talking a lot about learning communities, tools for reaching learners, and what's important to us as adult educators as we and our learners move forward.
In one of these recent conversations one of my colleagues made the following statement:
"let's not just do things the way we're used to because that's all we know"
As educators we are a the cusp of a whole new paradigm of learning - the classrooms that have been around since the time of Victorian England (Dickens and Nietzsche would not feel out of place in our classrooms - can tat be said of just about any other part of our modern society?) and before are becoming the least popular way for our learners to learn - they are looking for convenience, mobility, and flexibility. For many learning is just another product or commodity to be purchased and consumed where and when they want to, not where a brick institution or an old lecturer tells them too.
We have to meet our learners where they are - so keeping this quote in mind we have to know what it is they are using to get their information, when they want to learn, and how they want to learn - knowing these things is critical for the future of post-secondary education.
Will the classroom ever go away completely - probably not, but the regularly scheduled class in a brick classroom may - replaced by mobile learning that can happen anywhere and the PLE that meets the learners needs. We will need to be better at engaging our learners and giving them a larger voice in what exactly their learning looks like. There will have to be options - where you learn, how you learn, when you learn.
So keep in mind my friend's quote - "let's not just do things the way we're used to because that's all we know" - let's do things because they are best for learning and best for our learners. Hold on, it's going to be a bumpy ride...