The Future of Online Learning

Feb 9, 2021 | blog

This episode.

Hi this is Nick Webb and welcome to the Nick Webb show. We’re gonna talk today with Dr. Murray. Dr. Murray is a colleague of mine at Western University of Health Sciences. And I’ve always admired his expertise as an educator and as an education technologist and really is always kept up on you know, what are students looking for today? What is the future of education? And first, why don’t we start out by maybe give me a little bit more of your background, Mary, and then we’ll we’ll go into what the changes are in education, what we need to do about it.

Sure. Thank you, Annika, thank you for the opportunity to discuss this absolutely critical topic and very, very apropos, given the times that we live in. So I have two master’s degree and one doctoral degree. And I think I have the I’ve had the opportunity to really see the evolution of education, because my three degrees have been through several decades.

And just to give an example, my very first master’s degree, I used the state of the art, IBM Selectric typewriter to type my first master’s degree, my second master’s degree, which was done using a word processor, which was back in those days, the top notch tool that you use to write papers. And my doctoral degree, obviously was, you know, is using, you know, high tech technology and digital resources and digital library. So through my journey, I’ve really seen how much education has changed.

So yeah, I can, you know, certainly the way in which we can deliver technology, or that is information to students using technologies is really incredible. And it’s really brought on this new concept of what we now call a synchronous training, or a synchronous education, where the old days, you had to show up to a lecture hall, listen to a professor rant for an hour, and then you would go to your next lecture hall.

But today, we can deliver these programs asynchronously. In other words, when a student wants them, and they can take as much of the courses they want at any given setting. I mean, I think that’s one really major breakthrough. Right?

Absolutely. And, like you said, earlier, Nick, is that the, the modality through which we’ve delivered the curriculum in the past, was 98%, through lectures. Now, through research, and through, you know, the looking at the outcomes of education, we found out actually that the lecture mode, in other words, the sage on the stage approach, right, really not that effective. So we effectively migrated out of that modality of teaching. And so now we are leveraging technology to really deliver much better reunion experience today.

Well, you know, as you know, I am really excited about one of my new businesses learn logic, and we’ve been working on this project for many, many years. And one of the things that we realized is that first of all students want value, they won’t they, you know, they really want to be able to turn their investment of time and money into something that has a monetary return.

They also want to eliminate friction. They want to increase speed, and certainly they want to increase relevancy. So I mean, even at since you and I both work at a medical school, I mean, we’re even seeing that with our medical students now. Right?

Absolutely. And you know, there is one static one or one statistic that actually was very scary and sad to read. And that’s the fact that 18% of the low-wage workers these are like minimum wage workers have a bachelor’s degree.

That is telling us that the value of education as it’s tense today, needs to be changed because people with a college degree, still have not acquired the skills that would translate into job abilities of you. You know, professional abilities, which is why education really did today. And you mentioned this earlier needs to be transferred into a value-based education.

Yeah, I think one of the biggest problems, you know, when we were putting together the plan to be able, you know, our goal at Learn logic was to deliver the best possible value for our students bar, none, I mean, literally in the world. And what we identified was, is that the idea of macro versus micro training or micro education is, is really been a dynamic force here.

Like I, if you take a look at some of the statistics, we recently did some analysis and found that, you know, if you have a bachelor’s degree and you live in the LA market, you know, chances are freshly minted bachelor’s degree will get you $60,000 a year.

But if you have a if you’re a certified project manager, which cost $600, and you know, maybe a year or so, all of a sudden, now you’re making $120,000, or you’re making twice as much money with a certification than you are with a four to five year investment into your education. And so we really, really have identified in the in the products that we’re developing learn logic, that the concept of high value micro education is so much greater than macro education.

Absolutely, Nick. And I think that’s why I really, really love the approach that learns logic has taken in terms of how do we educate a generation of learners that needs to be they need to acquire skills, not just theoretical knowledge because I believe that the traditional mode of teaching was, the idea is how much knowledge can you acquire,

whereas the focus today is how much skills can you bring to the table in order to perform and make a difference in a professional environment. And I think this is where I really love learn logic, because it has that value based focus, it is based on the fact that what you learn is applicable to your professional environment.

Absolutely. And it’s so targeted, you know, I don’t care if my dentist is really, really savvy in pre construction history, I want that dentist to do dentistry, right. And that’s the problem is we waste we have a scatter or a spillage problem in education today, where we waste so much time and effort in knowledge that has no direct applicability to skills. And that was one of the things that I believe we really fixed with our logic.

Right, right. And there’s a story that is kind of kind of illustrates the how learning and the value of education has shifted. So this person applied to be a museum clerk. So in the job description, it said that bachelor’s degree required.

So, you know, they interviewed a bunch of bachelor’s degree candidates to be a museum clerk. And it appeared, it was a major catastrophe, because none of those people actually able to perform the job, you know, so they changed it. And they said, if you have any experience with a, you know, antiques, you know, if you have been working in an antique shop, and they we did the job description, and this time, it was based on practical knowledge.

Yeah. And this time they got it right. So I think that simple story illustrates the fact that we’ve been so focused on theoretical knowledge that it just didn’t work in the industry in the real world. It just does not work. Yeah, you know, I

heard a similar sort of story. I don’t know if it’s really true. But they say that when candidates are applying at Google, there is an example of, you know, a student coming in. And, you know, they asked them the question, Where did you go to college? Well, they went to Stanford, of course. And the next question is, well, what was your GPA? And it’s well, 4.0, of course.

And then the third question is, that’s great, because everybody else has those exact same credentials. Tell me what you’ve invented lately. Right? And so these are the kinds of questions are being asked of candidates for great positions. And our goal at Learn logic is really to create superstars. You know, give them the tricks, and the hacks and the real learnings that they can use to go out and become a rockstar, a superstar. That’s a very, very different approach.

And you know, the way that we were able to do that was kind of interesting. We realized that in order for us to invent something that was world class, that was the best of the best We had to first of all realize that we didn’t really deliver education to a student, we delivered education to a range of student personas.

And if we could understand these four student types, we could make sure that we delivered meaningful layered and dynamic value to all students. And here’s what we came up with. We found that there were four different types of students that we haven’t learned logic. The first one is, the curriculum-centric student in the Caribbean, curriculum-centric student really only cares about the quality of the curriculum, they want the latest research, they want a curriculum that’s forward-facing.

They want a curriculum that’s based on practical real world knowledge, not theories. So we developed curriculums that met that very, very standard. But we also realized that there was yet another student persona and that student was the certification centric persona. In other words, these are individuals that, yes, they want good curriculum, of course, but they want the certificate because the certificate is legal tender. In other words, they could use that certificate to advance their career, they could advance by finding new jobs in their in their industry, and so on. So they saw the certificate itself.

And there was even a more psychodynamic to this particular persona. They loved the idea of having these letters behind their names and the certificate on the wall. So we made sure that we developed a certificate that was prestigious by putting it in front of employers and the industry to let them know how we provide a differentiated value.

The third persona was also interesting, this persona, was what we call the pragmatist. And we see this in a lot of student personas where the pregnant pregnancy is thought so okay, I spent $2,000 on a certification program, it better make me at least $2,000 more a year. Right. So they looked at it as very, very practical, they weren’t emotional about the curriculum, they weren’t emotional about this certificate itself. They wanted the practical return on investment. And then we realized there was one last persona called the risk-centric persona.

And this persona is a student that is working in an organization, maybe their mid-career, and they’re realizing that young millennials might be coming up, then, with a whole new bag of fresh tricks. And they did not want to be out, invented, they didn’t want to be in a situation where their career stalled. So they didn’t look at it from an opportunistic perspective, they looked at it as a defensive risk mitigation approach.

And of course, we had to address that personal need as well. So what I love about the people that are good at this is that they’re, they’re very, very student-centric and understanding their students at that level. But you know, we don’t see that so much in higher education, do we?

Absolutely. And you’re bringing up a very good point, Nick. And that’s the fact that education the way is currently shaped and delivered. It’s almost like a one size fits all model. So what you’re describing really is something new, something that is trickling down slowly but surely into higher education. But it’s personalized learning. And that is today, I think, one of the key components of success in the future.

And I’m very glad to see that learn logic is moving in that direction, and actually trailblazing in terms of making that Prince fundamental principle, the core way of delivering a excellent and delightful experience for the learner. And I think you’ve alluded to this earlier. But that’s another key component to learning and teaching today. And that is the fact that it is more than just an intellectual exercise. It isn’t an experience and taking into account the the personas will give you that that kind of delivery model where it’s based on experience, not just as an intellectual and

yeah, and you know, what it also does is that many of these things that you wind up creating, once you go to the to the heavy lifting of really understanding what your customers want, you begin to realize that there’s opportunity to invent new things. And one of the things I know you’ve had a chance to look at these as a as a Doctorate of education.

You know, certainly glad to get your perspective on this. But you know, we realized this nano packet, our patent pending nano packet approach really allowed us to to to take no knowledge about how people like to engage media, and we applied it to asynchronous online learning and what I mean more specifically, is that studies show that if a YouTube video is longer than three minutes, all of a sudden the the the viewership of that Video drops off a cliff, people want to see videos that are less than three minutes long.

Look at Tick Tock look at Instagram, we’ve gone through an evolutionary an evolution that has expressly eliminated friction and reduced time. And we decided rather than having an hour lecture, you know, the state the sage on the stage, as you put it, you know, why not put these in small packets that are content dense, that eliminates the non meat fillers, so that our students can get the maximum amount of practical actionable insights in the least amount of time, right? I mean, it makes perfect sense.

Absolutely. And what you just mentioned is confirmed by the latest studies that show that breaking down, the learning into SMALLER NUGGETS, is the most efficient way to really retain the information. So there’s a difference between shallow learning and deep learning. So the research has shown that shallow learning is good for just passing an exam, you know, like you have a exam next weekend. So you just, you know, go through the material and study and regurgitate that knowledge.

But the problem is, that is just a knowledge, it does not translate into skills later on, such as shallow learning, the deep learning which is, which is provided by the ability of the students to take those smaller bites and ingest them and and transform them into something that stays through the US lifelong learners, which is what you alluded to earlier. And that is the future of education.

I think that’s right. You know, the other thing that we found, we took a look at and actually audited some competitive courses online. What’s interesting for us, we found that about two thirds of the content were absolutely unnecessary.

So we’re putting this student through the pain of listening, and this is what typically happened. We found that in that two thirds of wasted content, it was historical perspective, and evidentiary support. In other words, the professor saying, according to back in the 1800s, jebediah, whatever, right? And then they’d go into and the statistics show in the graph this and and when you think about it, you’re thinking,

Well, what does that really mean to somebody who’s trying to do amazing things in their career in their enterprise? Is that really necessary? So what we do is we provide that information for the personas that are evidentiary based or likes to drill deeper, but we really, really focus on the how to fly manual, how do we actually do this stuff.

And it was incredible to find out that we could take a program that typically would be saved 50 hours, and we could turn these programs in some cases into five hours with the same amount of actionable content. And here’s the thing that we believe we’re, we’re and studies tend to show this is that if you pull out those that wasted white noise, that you actually build retention. That’s incredible.

Absolutely. And you’re absolutely right, Nick to say that a lot of what we learn in school, traditionally, we, you know, science has proven that we retain less than 10%. So in other words, we’ve wasted actually 90% of the time that we spend learning in a traditional way. So now is really the time to transition towards a more more more efficient, a lot more condensed, but meaningful learning experience.

I think that’s right. And, you know, I saw I think we put together something special here. Well, you know, we’re just launching several of these programs, some of the, the audit results have come back and people love it. I you know, I think that there’s no question that education itself needed to be reinvented. And I think the key to that is improving the value, reducing the time that it takes to learn complicated things, increasing the way in which we deliver human experiences that are highly relevant, and and to eliminate friction.

And if you can do all of those things with really future facing content content that that was the other thing that was surprising to us, we found that most of the content of these programs were researched, you know, from a rearview mirror approach, looking at what used to work prior to the C 19 economy and of course, much of what used to work just a year ago or two years ago, are completely irrelevant today.

Absolutely, Nick, I am highly excited to see the evolution of these nano packets and nano project and I really am excited to see a new generation of students that would benefit from from this approach. into teaching and learning.

Well, I appreciate you being on the show today. And this is it’s always great to get your insights and to spend time, you know, learning from you. And it’s been a great honor to to be able to work with you at the university over the last three or four years. And just, you’re an incredible guy, and thanks so much for being on the podcast today.

A real human