Boeing: Next Gen Online Learning Works Better

Boeing is running learning experiments to find optimal workforce development strategies.  “Work itself has become increasingly online and virtual, and courses that are offered online can directly incorporate these features.”  Michael Richey is a Boeing learning scientist working with a UW team lead by John Bransford (How People Learn).  Findings suggest that second gen courses with social learning and student directed media work a lot better than the old text and lecture stuff.  Here’s the abstract of a Frontiers in Education article:

We present an experiment involving the analysis and redesign of an online course that has been in existence for several years at Boeing. We created an experimental version of the course to explore the differential impact of a mix of learning science frameworks: integrating different types of formative and reflective feedback; minimizing cognitive load by restructuring lecture-derived text-centric materials into short, narrated, student-controlled videos; and using a learning management system (LMS) that supported social interactions and learner collaboration. We found significant differences between the existing course and the new course. Subjects in the experimental course learned more and at a greater rate. They had a more engaged attitude toward their future learning and less dependence on their level of initial subject knowledge. The social collaboration and data collection capabilities of the LMS supported continuous online course improvement during course development, but these tools had limited spontaneous use by students during the experiment. We describe the impact of these findings on developing an evidence-based methodology for implementing online learning experiences and future work.

Not suprisingly, “results indicate that people in the experimental course learned more and at a greater rate than subjects in the control course.”
The use of learner controlled video is also being piloted at the Univeristy of Utah business school.  Watch Matt Hoffman explain dilution in this video. There’s a couple hundred of these that students access JIT when building a business plan.

The work that Boeing is doing is the kind of research that NSF and IES should be sponsoring (let me know if they are).  But Bror Saxberg at Kaplan is the only one that I know that’s talking about these kinds of fine grained trails of web 2 components.  

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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