ACPET Conference 2014 – MOOCs, VHS and craft beer

On the 28th and 29th of August, Bernadette Parry and I went to the ACPET Conference to represent eWorks. Fremantle was an opportune locality, with a great selection of fresh beers within walking distance of the venue—at The Sail and Anchor, Little Creatures and The Monk. I took the chance to introduce a few ACPET members to the finer points of craft beer at The Monk brewery.

Pot of craft beer

My presentation on MOOCs in the VET sector on the second day of the conference showcased the Australian Childhood Foundation which hosts a MOOC via TrainingVC. I discussed MOOCs in general as an overview, and then focused on the possibilities of technology to scale education. Don’t get me wrong, while I do identify as a geek, I am not proposing that every learning outcome can or should be delivered digitally. From my discussions with many ACPET members I noticed that the perspective of many educators of what e-learning is about focuses on digital delivery of course material. While the CBT (computer based training) of the early internet ’90s did focus on a click next style of theory delivery, modern LMS systems like TrainingVC provide so much more opportunity for improving education models outside the area of delivery. An LMS, when exploited effectively, can be used to measure learning outcomes, synchronous educator to learner or peer interactions and so much more.

I also spoke about other industries and how internet connectivity has impacted them. We only need to look at the changes in the music industry to see significant change to models. Using home video as an analogy, the audience and I took a trip down memory lane, remembering large VHS cameras and running out of tape halfway through holidays. Post internet and mobile device disruption of video, YouTube now has 100 hours of video uploaded every minute. Generation Z expects to be able to broadcast publicly as fast as it takes them to upload their video.

The ensuing Q&A session was great fun, with lots of questions on how the revenue models for educators will change in the future. If we look at the large scale MOOCs of Stanford and Harvard, an early model seems to be taking shape. Offline learning material scales really easily when delivered by the internet, and modern consumers know this. Training content, thought of by many in the past as a significant proportion of your training intellectual property (IP), is being expected for free because consumers realise the cost in delivery via digital channels is low. This has led companies like EDx to shift the revenue generating focus to where the work becomes unscaleable (i.e. 1:1), which of course is assessment, accreditation and certification. While this has a lower price point and the margin will be smaller than the massive-scale music industry for example, successful companies have the opportunity for much larger audiences.

All in all, ACPET 2014 was an awesome event with lots of great discussions on education and interesting, passionate people to meet. Thanks ACPET — we look forward to next year.