The Changing Framework of Online Learning

Janet Burns:

The online learning landscape has long been dominated by Blackboard, Pearson, and other large corporate platforms, which have provided virtual classrooms, hosted online course content, and supported discussion features for various on- and off-line colleges and universities. In the past several years, however, many new platforms — some reinventing the traditional pay model, and others providing free content — have arrived on the scene, taking root in their own right and changing the face of web-based education.

As higher-education writer Justin Pope noted in MIT’s Technology Review, options for online learning are forever expanding; for-profit platform Coursera and edX, the Harvard- and MIT-led nonprofit consortium, for example, “are up to nearly 13 million users and more than 1,200 courses between them.” Content from free online platform Khan Academy — borne of humble beginnings as a YouTube series — is now being incorporated into classroom learning worldwide, and made Lifehack’s list of its top 25 preferred sites for free online courses alongside Udemy, which also offers material from various sources, and Harvard Extension, one example of institution-specific course platforms. The New York Institute of Finance (NYIF), too, recently announced its plans to transition all of its test-prep courses into an online-only format as of January 2015 using the Open edX platform, making it one more in a long line of traditional institutions to take the online learning plunge.