Why Learning Together Matters

 

 

I’m a huge fan of in-person, live college lectures. When I studied Business at Youngstown State University in Ohio back in the 1980s, I loved attending lectures. They were all about learning and big ideas. Class sizes were moderate. And I appreciated being able to interact with my fellow students and get to know my professors.

Thanks to the growing popularity of online classes, many of today’s students are missing out on the benefits of in-person lectures. That’s a tragedy.

It’s also why I’m so passionate about promoting live lectures and other in-person learning experiences. As the chief executive officer of On-Demand Education Marketplace, or ODEM, I’m committed to building a blockchain-based platform that empowers students to put live lectures from top universities at the core of their ongoing education.

“As the chief executive officer of On-Demand Education Marketplace, or ODEM, I’m committed to building a blockchain-based platform that empowers students to put live lectures from top universities at the core of their ongoing education.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Luddite. Technology is crucial to making the world a better place. Online learning will also eventually play an important role in the kind of lifelong learning that we envision for users of the ODEM platform.

However, evidence is growing that online classes are actually hurting weaker students versus more academically proficient classmates. That’s what I took away from a recent column in the New York Times by University of Michigan Professor Susan Dynarski entitled Online Courses Are Harming the Students Who Need the Most Help.

Evidence also shows that many students who sign on for massive open online courses, or MOOCs, never get around to finishing them. “And a lot of those who finish don’t take another one,” according to a 2013 article by Todd Tauber in Quartz. “That means the number of people actually learning anything substantial is much less massive than the PR suggests.”

Why aren’t more students engaging with their online courses? For one, as a device-focused society, we spend short bursts of time on our mobile phones. Joe Kraus, a partner at Google Ventures, said in Quartz. “Our collective attention spans are becoming shorter, reducing our ability to effectively process information.”

At ODEM, we understand this. Our in-person courses, taught by reputable professors and educators and held at recognized educational institutions, allow students to learn together in an environment that encourages discussion. In 2013 USA Today reported that “according to results of a new national research study, 78 percent of more than 1,000 students surveyed still believe it is easier to learn in a classroom.”

The ODEM.IO marketplace operates on the value of facilitating direct connection between educators and students so that they can create educational experiences that are relevant to their future career trajectories. Building the marketplace on the Ethereum blockchain allows ODEM.IO to leverage smart contracts, a technology that makes it possible to reduce unnecessary intermediaries and lessen educational costs.

Blockchain technology also provides ODEM.IO with an opportunity to scale, reach global audiences, and verify users on our platform. But at the core of our offering are live, engaging experiences that are proven to help all students learn.


 

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