W01: Course Description

Ventures in Learning Technologies

ETEC522 is an online immersion in the global learning technologies marketplace with particular emphasis on the creation and assessment of original for-profit and not-for-profit ventures that seek to harness the prospective learning potentials of emerging technologies. More simply, the course is about the digital frontiers of learning, and the skills required to be a successful pioneer.

This is not a “business” course.  For example, we employ the term “venture” to include commercial start-ups, new non-profit initiatives, and any variety of purposeful change-making projects inside organizations, school systems, communities, etc.  A venture is simply a planned, purposeful change to the status quo which has some proposed, measurable value to a specific audience.

We will provide a framework for understanding how commercial, institutional and community ventures related to learning technologies can be successfully conceived, launched and evaluated, but the focus is on opportunity development, not management process. If you have lots of business experience, or none, you’re in the right place if you’re excited by the future of learning.

Most 522 students are educators.  The inspiration for this course is that far too few educators are also pioneers.  We believe that teachers and learners will benefit when more pioneering is done by those who know a lot about learning rather than mainly by technologists and industrialists.  However, like teaching, pioneering is a ‘calling’ – not everyone can do it well.  So 522 will demonstrate how easily you can become a successful pioneer if that is your calling and, even if you don’t wish to be one, how you can effectively understand and get better value from the pioneering efforts of others.

The course uses an active role-playing methodology.   While acting as a venture creator or analyst,  you will examine real-world ventures and markets, and design at least one authentic venture of your own.  Ventures can be small or large, innovative or traditional, independent or internal, designed for profit or public good, or many combinations of these.  The processes involved with conceiving, creating and fostering all of them are essentially similar.

You’re now in the ‘start-up’ week of the course.  Following this, 522 will tour the global opportunity landscape for learning technologies, then offer bootcamps for evaluating and launching intrepid ventures in that landscape.  After that, groups of you will introduce the rest of us to emerging markets of special interest.  The course culminates with a “venture forum” featuring real or possible venture concepts that you design and ‘pitch’ to the class.

The first and most important thing to understand is that even though the learning technologies landscape continues to change at a breathtaking rate, the tools of the successful pioneer remain remarkably constant.   We’re confident that the skills you learn here will be valuable for your entire career.

Since pioneering involves exploration, you will be encouraged to apply and evaluate newly available online tools and services as an essential part of our learning experience together.  In that spirit and as a launchpad for our explorations, 522 itself is staged within an open public weblog rather than the ‘civilized’ comforts of an established Learning Management System (LMS).  And without apology, we’re deliberately plunging you headfirst into a prototyping environment focused on professional networking and regenerative learning design.

Hang onto your hats, and good luck!

On to Objectives