Is learning from a hobbyist validated learning? Does one have to learn from a certified trainer, college/university professor, or coach in order to have validation for his or her learning? With the expanse and abilities of the internet, most people can facilitate authentic online learning experiences for a variety of audiences and purposes. Still, are those experiences valid or are they ineffective? In other words, a college/university degree or a DIY badge, that is the question.
First let’s define learning. According to McCarthy, “learning is the making of meaning” (p.6). How each of us constructs this meaning is based on perceptions and processes that are extracted from our experiences. Hence, the meaning that is made from various learning experiences is based on how we take in the things we learn (perception) and what we do with what we take in (processes). “So learning grows out of this natural rhythm of perceiving and processing” information from the environment (McCarthy, 2000, p. 17).
Now, let’s define valid learning. According to the Collins Dictionary, “something that is valid is important or serious enough to make it worth saying or doing” (Collins, 2018). Hence, valid learning can be defined as the outcome of what the learner has perceived and processed as important within the learning experience. Hence, it is up to the learner to determine whether the learning experience was valid or not.
With the proliferation of online courses and do-it-yourself training programs in the west, many courses are being taught by presumed experts. Actually, it’s never been easier to launch an online course then it is now. YouTubers, Vloggers, Instagrammers, Podcasters, and other online content creation gurus are bringing the spotlight to online learning and creating a potential disruption to higher education.
The rising cost of higher education is forming new opportunities in edupreneurship. Many inquisitive learners are opting to create their own learning plans by choosing to take online courses from online content creators rather than from universities and colleges. What is more, the question of whether having a university or college degree still remains relevant has arisen.
As Couros (2015) argued in his book, The Innovators Mindset, “your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about and pays off on what you can do with what you know and it doesn’t care how you learned it.” Hence, the future of learning may not solely be validated by college degrees, but by what the learner is able to create. In sum, if the learner perceives that his or her learning experience is valid, then regardless of the context, that learner has achieved learning. Therefore, through the lens of the learner, there is no difference between receiving information from a University or from Udemy.
Collins English Dictionary (n.d.). Definition of Valid. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/valid
Couros, G. (2015). The innovators mindset: Empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.
McCarthy, B. (2000). About learning. Wauconda, Ill: About Learning.