Most scholars would agree that the best way for learning to occur is still one-on-one, directly learnt from an expert. The carpenter taught his son how to make a table. The seamstress taught her daughter how to make a dress. The doctor taught her sons and daughters which herbs to use for which ailment. More formal learning started when wealthy families paid the famous Greek Philosophers to tutor their children.
A problem arose when the demand for education exceeded the supply – too many kids wanted an education were not enough scholars. So the first compromise came:
Compromise 1: Each scholar now taught several kids, learning with varying aptitudes, simultaneously.
This was the constitution of the “course”. The next compromise came when these “classes” became too full and the scholars and experts needed to share their knowledge with even more students.
Compromise 2: Scholars documented their knowledge in books or manuals, children learning from non-experts.
The teaching fraternity has, over the centuries, tried their best to “fix” these compromises by evolving the science of teaching, otherwise known as Pedagogy. Good innovations like “‘facilitation” and “flipped classroom” were introduced, with a mediocre impact on the quality of learning. During the third industrial revolution, the learning and education community has embraced technology to innovate even further. eLearning and Mobile Learning has brought the possibility of taking education to the masses, transcending geographical and economic barriers.
BUT, despite the exciting potential of technology, most eLearning and Mobile Learning are still applying the compromised concept of the “course” to learning challenges. Courses were invented because we could not do then what we CAN do now!