September 1, 2010
learning 2.0

The Death of TV Could Help Learning 2.0 Take Flight

As the big three refine, revise and retool their television platforms (Google TV, Apple TV and Microsoft MediaRoom) it got me thinking about the death of TV.

Not necessarily as Warren Ellis describes in his laugh out loud Wired UK piece out next month entitled “The Death Of TV As We Know It”, rather, the TV as an albatross to the learning space.

If I were any of the aforementioned big three, here is what I’d be contemplating in the opportunity:

  • Like the TV, learning itself is becoming more and more unscripted; informal and social is finally taking its rightful place on the gold and silver podium, shifting formal learning to bronze status. Although I don’t personally watch them, is there a coincidence in seeing reality based television at the top of the viewing charts?
  • Like TV viewers, learners want choice, variety, and a Personal Learning Environment (or PVR in TV-speak). Must-See-TV on Thursday nights is a thing of the past, and the 5-day course that comes around once every quarter really is antiquated thinking at its best.
  • Like the TV industry, the learning vertical is undergoing a radical change; the industrial revolution model of ‘bums in seats’ is analogous to family time around the wood encased floor model television. It’s changing, whether the networks or the learning executives like it (or see it) or not

What does this mean for the big three?

Although it’s early days, thus far, what I’ve seen from each of the companies is actually far superior to that of normal cable company software packages … if they even have a software package with their service. There is the ability not only to record multiple ‘shows’ at the same time, there are mobile recording options, web-based interaction with ‘picture in picture’ television viewing at the same time, amongst other 2.0-esque features.

But what’s missing is the learning opportunity; the Learning 2.0 opportunity.

Yes, we will continue to see a proliferation of laptops and mobile devices entering the home. This is good. I still believe, however, that as more and more families become dissatisfied with the ‘sage on the stage’ approach to K-12 learning that the combination of a web-based or IPTV-based learning ecosystem model around a television (with laptop/mobile device access as well) will conquer.

The big three, if thinking about this opportunity, will use this as a catalyst to get disenfranchised parents to subscribe to their particular product, if it comes with the 2.0 ability to combine classic educational shows, with collaborative-based learning experiences, with webcam/tele-presence-like features, with specific content that is indexed, searchable, useable and modifiable.

A learning ecosystem as described above with specific content options for K-12 (and perhaps higher education) takes iTunesU to a whole new level. It becomes the basis to (once again) unite the family and create opportunities to enrich the learning experience that is, for the most part, lacking in the traditional K-12 and higher education environment today.

So, Google, Microsoft and Apple, the challenge for you is to create the new Dewey Decimal system for 2010 and beyond. I’m up for that challenge.

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