Last time we discussed about whether users has enough motives to use online education
services. A quick conclusion is, a lot of people have the interest
in obtaining new knowledge and in self-improvement, however, many lack the
strong motive and self-disciplinary to hold on to entire learning
Last time we discussed about
whether users has enough motives to use online education services. A quick conclusion is, a lot of people have the interest in obtaining new knowledge and in self-improvement, however, many lack the strong motive and self-disciplinary to hold on to entire learning process.
How could deal with this? Apparently there is a disparity between how much willpower the learning process requires, and how much most of us could provide. One way to handle this is to work from the users' end: either to strengthen our willpower or to talk ourselves into stronger motives.
How to obtain more self-control and be able to accomplish something harder than one could handle before? This is definitely an entire whole different task, which is as hard as becoming an intensive online education users. This is not the main topic of the current post, yet there are several credible books in this area, that I want to quickly recommend:
2) The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It, which is based on Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal's wildly popular course "The Science of Willpower," and
How to produce stronger motive? Sometimes external pressure could be utilized. Image that the "Introduction to Python" has been lying in your "shopping cart" of a certain online education platform for a really long time. You first put it in because your career goal is becoming a product manager in a software company. You always feel that, it is important to learn some basic programming skills, even through it is not required in many product manager job descriptions. However, one day when you are searching for new job postings, a very attractive position jump in to his eyes. It fits perfectly your every hope and desire, and you are qualified for every required skill, except for only one: basic Python knowledge.
Bang! How you wish that you had already completed that online course! Good news is, the application deadline is two months from now. It is highly possible that you would leverage this month and work on that course intensively. This time it feels easier to start and continue than before, for two main reasons:
1) you could see a very specific external incentive (a dream job) which is directly linked with whether you could accomplish the task at hand (quickly absorb fundamental knowledge about Python) or not.
2) There is a clear deadline ( one month later).
However, most of the time we need to learn something, which is not urgent in the short term, but would be important in the long term. How could we transfer experiences like the "Python" story to deal with this kind of situation? If there are no external events, probably we could create one. It should have the two basic characteristics: 1)an external incentive directly linked with the task that need to be done; and 2) a clear deadline. Here I will share a real experience of my friend to elaborate this method.
That friend is a management consultant at XXX, one of the first-tier consulting firms. He always wanted to improve his PowerPoint and presentation skills. After trying and failing for several times, he had an idea. He contacted the business school he graduated from, saying that he was interested in sharing his experience as a consultant XXX. The school agreed because XXX is the dream company of many of its students. As he suggested, the lecture was scheduled 28 days ahead. Suddenly, he felt extremely under pressure, because he certainly did not want to lose face at his university. Then in the following month, he made the best use of every minute of his spare time to polish his PowerPoint and presentation skills, using tones of free resources online. He finally did pretty well at that lecture, and bought himself an iPad 2nd generation as a prize, for successfully pushing himself to achieve significant improvement.
Previously we mentioned that, one way to handle the disparity is to work from the users' end. The other way, without doubt, is to work from the service providers' end. The current practice, like Coursera, is already very user-friendly, much better than our previous generation could get. However, is it possible, in the ear future, to make the learning experience even easier, and smoother?
I'd like to say yes. For example, one possible solution is to make the learning process more fun and more integrated into people's daily online activities. For example, if a website like Coursera could have a one-click share function, to share most wonderful videos, one's learning process, thoughts and experiences to Facebook and Twitter, it will be easier for users to carry on. Image that when I feel very frustrated at learning Java, instead of just quit learning, I could share the course page and complain on my Facebook page. What is likely to happen is, many friends would left me comforting and encouraging messages. If I am lucky enough, I might also find someone who has similar Java pain start to help each other out. It feels much better than sitting there along with nothing but just some bugs to fix.
Another possible way, is to design specific service to a target group. Let's still take Coursera as an example. A lot of people all over the world have benefitted from Coursera, however in my country, China, not everyone could benefit from it, because of the language barrier. Those currently underserved group should not be held back from better higher education just because they are not fluent in English. Someone might argue that as long as some volunteers would offer to put Chinese subtitles for each courses, as how previously those most popular open courses were introduced to China. However, no one could ever bring the entire learning experience at Cousera (including all reading materials, lecture Power Point slides, all discussions, assignments, and tests) to people who are not comfortably learning in English just by translation. In order to enable more Chinese students and also professionals to be actually engaged in a very interactive learning experience, a Chinese-based online higher education platform, similar to Cousera, is necessary.