The Blend Podcast EP010 – The Covid effect : How eLearning & Education will change

Tom Payani  00:29

Today, we’ve got an interesting topic, how elearning and education in general is going to be permanently changed through COVID. And what that has done to elearning in general and the education system in general, we’re going to have a little bit of a dive into that.

Brendan Cox  00:56

Yeah, I think it’s kind of affected a lot of people. I’ve got a lot of friends in the UK that have got kids and it’s kind of flipped the whole world on its head with them.

Tom Payani  01:09

Obviously, COVID has massively changed elearning and education in the sense that it’s become more prevalent and schools have had to implement and integrate it, because of the pandemic. But let’s be honest, it was always moving in this direction anyway.

For me, it’s less of a complete transformation and more of just a catalyst or an accelerant towards a blended classroom or more digital classroom.

Brendan Cox  01:41

Yeah, I think it’s like everything, everything has a tendency to kind of like blend together over time. And sometimes you have moments in history where it gives you a kick up the ass, and you have to kind of chop, chop, and get on with it. And I think this is one of those things where it’s like the education industry has kind of rested on his laurels for a long time.

There’s been plenty of people kind of pushing forward and innovating. But we definitely went over like the top of the bell curve. And but we’ve COVID is it’s basically forcing people to prioritise it, which is a good thing, I think.

Tom Payani  02:15

Yeah, I agree. I think when you when you say rested on their laurels, you can also use the same argument with many high street shops or department stores or businesses like that, can’t you?

Debenhams and these types of businesses that have really struggled during COVID. People coming out and saying, well, COVID has completely destroyed these businesses. If it wasn’t for COVID, they would be okay. And that’s just not true is it?

Amazon was always taking over even pre-COVID. Moving into this digital world, this post COVID environment, whether it’s the education system, whether it’s retail stores, and a traditional looking High Street. I think we were always moving in this direction, regardless, and I think COVID has just been the sort of final nail in the coffin.

Brendan Cox  03:17

Yeah, I mean, it’s consumer behaviour. We all spend an insane amount. When we were kids, after school, we just got our bikes, and when we hung out with our mates in a field and played football, whereas now what I like, most of our time is spent online, throughout the day, in our spare time, everything, and that drives the services, the behaviours and the strategies of both businesses and education and organisations.

The thing is, if you’re not following it, or you’re just being stubborn and digging your heels in, and you’re not going along with the flow of people, and the flow of consumers, then yeah, you sooner or later, people are just going to stop calling.

There was that thing with Kodak back in the day. And was it Polaroid. It was amazing how Polaroid managed to carry on. Kodak was basically on the ropes, because they just did nothing to do with digital.

Tom Payani  04:25

I remember when I was a little kid, my parents – one of the jobs I think they both did part time on top of their full time job was they worked at a place called Colour Care. Do you remember that? Those places that were special places just to process film.

It just shows how things have changed. I was I was reading a quote by Reed Hastings. He’s the guy who started Netflix, he’s the Co-CEO now of Netflix. He said something I thought was quite interesting: that I don’t worry about HBO, they’re not my competitor, I’m more worried about fortnite. And it just shows the way these guys are thinking in terms of their positioning in the market. Who their competitors are nowadays.

Brendan Cox  05:15

I you think about, like what fortnite did with the concerts and stuff like that wasn’t just like a little test. There was tonnes of development time put into that, that wasn’t a kind of, oh, you know what we should do next week, we’ll do a concert, they like full on work their way up to this, this is part of a much bigger strategy. People talk about having a one year plan, three year plan, five year plan, 10 year plan, these guys are pushing all the way as far forward as they possibly can.

I think it’s always important to watch what these kind of outliers are doing. And the people that are really, really, really popular things like fortnight and stuff, because they will be trying things that will be the norm in five years time.

Tom Payani  05:59

Yeah. And I think it’s pretty well known now that the video game industry, completely dwarfs, TV, cinema, books, all of these other creative outlets.

Brendan Cox  06:15

We talked briefly before about what people are like, how people learn, and they sort of lean towards different types of learning styles, like kinesthetic etc. And out of all the different types of media – video games give you all of them.

That’s one of the reasons why it’s expanded faster than any other industry, because it’s, it’s hitting all the right bases. It’s, it’s like engaging people in all the right ways.

Tom Payani  06:48

Absolutely. I also heard that Spotify, since COVID, have started have said that all their workers can work remotely indefinitely now?

Brendan Cox  07:01

That’s cool.

Tom Payani  07:02

Yeah. I mean, it’s not that surprising, is it?

Brendan Cox  07:06

No. Where is Spotify based? US?

Tom Payani  07:12

They’re actually a Swedish company originally.

Brendan Cox  07:15

Since everyone went in lockdown a year ago, they can see how efficient they’ve been. And that’s the good thing about these kind of startups, these companies are great with measuring data.

Tom Payani  07:59

Do you think this is going to become standard? Big companies, people working remotely? Do you think that will be standard? Or do you think there could possibly be counter push? Something along the lines of no, we want that human connection, especially because of COVID?

Especially because we haven’t been able to see each other? The office is an important environment to catch up with people? Where do you stand in that argument?

Brendan Cox  08:36

I think it’s like everything, it’s the human pendulum thing. We’ve all been forced to do this. So we’ve got to kind of make the best of it. But I’ll be honest, I’ve worked remote for years, but I still love meeting people in person.

I’m sure a lot of other people embrace working remotely and love how efficient they can be and can really crack on with stuff. At the same time, we need that energy. And we need that kind of group. The tribal aspect of basically being able to go into it, or socialise, share space.  

I think that as soon as we were allowed back in the office, there’ll be a rush to for people there because everyone’s different as well. So some people need the kind of work environment to be able to get on with it.

Some people are just quite happy beavering away and being left to their own devices. It’s more the fact that COVID has pushed us to provide more options. So if a worker is better in the office, they can go in the office, if they want to work from home, there’s no kind of friction there.

There’s no sort of barrier to entry – they personally work better from home, they can do it. And the companies understand why it’s useful. The companies understand how to set it up. There’s no sort of stigma attached with your home.

Tom Payani  10:18

You just have to look at a company like WeWork, don’t you and they’ve done very well off COVID. Co-working spaces have become more popular. People want that connection.

Brendan Cox  10:31

Yeah. And I think there’s a balance to it, you can literally work in Co-working spaces, and then spend half your time at home when you want the quiet days, and you want to get on with stuff without being interrupted. And I think the good thing is there are more choices now. There’s more understanding of the advantages of both. And I think that over time, it’ll just become a balance.

We are both loving the fact that we both work remote. But we’re both really keen on the idea of basing ourselves somewhere that has a dynamic atmosphere with a hub of activity and interesting people where you have that human aspect to.

Tom Payani  11:09

Yeah, it’s natural. You could speak to pretty any digital nomad, and I don’t think they would want to be travelling around on a weekly basis, you need somewhere to set or at least base yourself for a period of time, have that routine for chunks of time, even if you are moving to three, four or five places a year.

Brendan Cox  11:38

People can be productive in different ways, and have different preferences for that. Being a digital nomad is not about constantly moving. It’s about flexibility. And being freelance is about flexibility. And I think having the low sort of infrastructure in place, because it’s forced by COVID.

To do it is a good thing, because then it gives workers more flexibility. It gives companies more flexibility. And everyone has the opportunity to do it rather than stick to the same old systems.  People go, why are we doing it this way? Maybe this way works better.

In fact, we’ve seen other companies data show it works better. Let’s try out and hopefully everyone can get a bit more efficient and a bit more happy with how they work.

Tom Payani  12:33

Yeah, just bringing it back a little bit more to an education focus. A high growth in in edtech, in education, technology, in startups in the industry, investing in these types of businesses. I’ve got a couple of quotes, a couple of facts in front of me, almost 19 billion US dollars in 2019. And the overall market for online education projected to reach 350 billion by 2025. That’s an absolutely enormous increase. That’s crazy.

Brendan Cox  13:13

Yeah, they literally skyrocket.

Tom Payani  13:17

That encompasses language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools to things like zoom, obviously, online learning software. So anything from zoom to landings management systems that schools are using to apps such as Duolingo.

Even though that’s a crazy figure, again, it’s not, in my opinion, not super surprising, that we’re always moving in that direction. Obviously, we’re gonna say that, because we’ve started a business in that world. But yeah, I do think that COVID has just accelerated this growth.

Brendan Cox  13:55

We were chatting the other week to Tanya and she was saying about how often you’ve got parts of businesses that are looked at different ways as like a cost centre, or somewhere to like, invest.

And so they might invest in promotion, marketing, comms, sales, training, all this kind of stuff. But up until recently, education by eLearning in businesses has been looked at more as a cost centre, just to mitigate risk or to train the staff so they don’t make a mistake.

It’s just to avoid losing money. And with all of these people vying for it, basically, like vying for the market share of like this growth, you’ve got a lot more people working really hard to do a really good job, but then you actually realise, e-learning can be a place to invest in as well. And I think that it is going up significantly means that people have people have optimised parts of businesses and their work.

Working their way through different areas of it, you can optimise the supply chain side of things because it’s data driven, you can basically and then when you get to the more the intangible stuff like human resources and training, where it’s a bit harder to measure, it’s taken longer for it to catch on.

But with something like COVID, they realised we needed to optimise the whole business. And so that’s why it’s really cool to see this kind of rapid growth. And I think the thing is, we’re saying it because we started a business in it. But we started a business in it because we can see the growth.

Tom Payani  15:37

What we’re banking on to a certain extent, is people moving away from this mentality that e.g. sales  – things where there’s a more tangible ROI is, is what we need to focus all our time on, business development, etc, etc, which, of course, is important.

But training, even though it may look intangible at the start, if you train people properly, if you train them efficiently, if you don’t look at it as a box ticking exercise that will give you tangible results long term.

Brendan Cox  16:14

Yeah, yeah, it’s a compound aspect. If everyone in your company or in your course, or any students are basically day by day improving what they do and how they work and how they think they will solve most of the problems for your company over time, the results of the training will be seen later on.

And just literally just build up over time to the point where you’re making money from areas that you wouldn’t normally, and you’re saving money from areas you wouldn’t normally buy just from something as simple as like, staff turnover. It costs to find people to get you get you the new employees, and you got to pay agencies to bring in freelancers to work for you while you’re finding them.

That money doesn’t need to go if your staff are trained properly, are passionate about what they do, and are good what they do.

Tom Payani  17:07

Well, I’ve experienced that firsthand. I’ve got to be careful to not get in too much trouble. But as you know, I had a negative experience in an international school I worked at, and staff turnover was right up there as one of the number one reasons why there were so many problems in the culture of that school people were unhappy, so they left very frequently.

The people and the actors in this who lose out the most the kids, because if you’ve got two three different teachers every year for, for a particular subject, there’s no continuity there, you can’t build a rapport with your teacher, and it completely disrupts their whole learning their whole education.

Unfortunately, the powers that be at that school didn’t take it seriously enough, or didn’t care or whatever. I mean, you’d have to ask them. I think good companies understand that these are factors. And these are things that will tangibly affect the business long term. But I think it’s also part of human psychology, we were very short term in many ways.

We have to see things in black and white and tan tangibly. And changing the culture of a place is sometimes more difficult to understand, understand the value of, you know, long term.

Brendan Cox  18:30

Yeah, the delayed gratification of everything is super easy to just make a quick change and pay for a course. And suddenly, boom, that person salesperson is now using a slightly different email approach to contact people.

But if you if you can sit back from it and see the big thing, I think also a lot of it is actually educating clients and educating the people who are, like, paying for this training. And the business side is that

They don’t really understand the tangible aspects and the benefits of learning, and training with HR stuff and soft skills and things like that. And I think that’s gonna that’s becoming more and more apparent, as well. So there’s a big demand for it. But there’s a better understanding and a wider common knowledge of understanding this thing’s actually useful. And I think that’s going to get better as well.

Tom Payani  19:20

Oh, yeah, exactly. And when you’re selling e-learning, it’s much harder as an agency or a studio to sell, let’s say soft skills training. A company is going to find it more difficult to measure. Every company wants to know what is the reward, what is the tangible reward I’m going to get from this.

And it’s much harder to sell that in terms of soft skills. We know that’s going to change the culture of a company. We know that it has massive, massive value, but it’s harder to measure and that’s always going to be a challenge. I think until the elearning world progresses on it as an industry to, to show it in a much more eloquent and clear way.

Brendan Cox  20:09

The way that we’re making training is fine. It works for a lot of different things. But the way that we present soft skills, impact needs to improve. And I think once that starts to become more, more transparent in the way that we measure it, and the way that we show that it works, I think it’ll become easier and easier to sell it to the people that are paying for it.

Tom Payani  20:40

And don’t get me wrong, I completely understand people don’t want to fall into the trap of buying something, or getting spending a lot of money on training that is just fluffy. And yeah, we’re gonna make your culture so much better, and everyone’s going to be happy, and la dee, da, da, you know, I get it. People want to see results, people want to see the tangible impact something’s going to have.

I think that’s a valid concern to have from a client or from a business’s end either, also. I understand both sides of that. But I think the important thing is just to create elearning, where these types of soft skills can be proven to help.

Brendan Cox  21:23

I think about the idea of being more transparent about how things work and cutting out the jargon and kind of being breaking everything down into the simplest way possible. So everyone understands it. And there’s no kind of words in the phrasing in the way of actually understanding stuff.

Tom Payani  21:51

Just bringing it back a little bit to how we think elearning. And the education system in general will change. Because of COVID, thinking of schools in particular, they had to very quickly change to a digital learning environment. And so in online classes, etc, etc. and teachers didn’t get training.

There was little preparation time. A lot of schools were underprepared. Maybe the technology wasn’t in place. You know, there’s all these types of issues, teething problems that occurred, and now resulted in a poor user experience that was that a lot of students had. It’s almost sort of scarred maybe, some teachers and students regarding digital learning, or elearning, in general.

Do you think that schools could have done more? Do you think that the same mistakes are going to be made next time round?

Brendan Cox  23:04

I think that humans tend to forget everything unless it directly affects them. So seeing other people have difficulty with elearning, or schools trying to transition into it – the impact hasn’t really sunk in until something like this happens where everyone gets slapped around the face, and suddenly has to teach 30 kids a day, six times on a subject.

They’re not used to working online, and the parents aren’t used to supporting the case in this way. And the technology maybe isn’t up to scratch, or the internet connection isn’t up to scratch, the noise kind of stuff. And I think that some people are going to be put off forever, cuz they might have had a horrible, like, personal experience with it. But I think that over time, it will start to like calm down.

There’ll be more and more resources catching up and more more strategic approaches to catching up to with that continuing demand. Because let’s be honest, we’re not out of lockdown. We’re not out of curfews, this is going to carry on. And so hopefully, the industry should start to catch up a bit.

Tom Payani  24:15

That for me, there’s two ways to look at it. One is a teacher who’s had such a bad experience. And as soon as you can, you’re like, I’m never touching zoom again. And I’m going to go back to traditional learning environment, everything’s going to be face to face. I’m going to try and avoid technology as much as possible in my classroom. Or you could have the other perspective where it’s like, Okay, this is happened. We need to create frameworks or systems. So if this happens, again, we’re more prepared, or even when we go back to school, we have the systems in place that create, you know, effective blended learning environments.

Brendan Cox  24:56

I would say that there’s no teacher that can be to blame. It’s all a management issue. And that basically, the people in charge haven’t supported the teachers or the kids in the way they should have. Hopefully this is kind of wake-up to it, and that they should be putting systems in place frameworks in place strategies in place that basically mean this doesn’t happen anymore. And teachers don’t feel like they are running up the beach at the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.

Tom Payani  25:35

It’s interesting, because I think we would both describe ourselves, you know, as a bit more liberal or progressive, politically or in that sort of conversation. But on the flip side of that, whenever we talk about, and we spoke about this in Episode One, like why the education system needs to change, we both agree that we think change is actually going to come from the private sector or from entrepreneurs or from startups, rather than, departments of education in countries.

Because like you just mentioned a second ago, the frameworks that LMS is the resources, the systems, governments are going to create these are they it’s going to come from startups, it’s going to come from elearning companies, it’s going to come from people from the private sector, which I’m assuming you agree with me?

Brendan Cox  26:28

We are not arguing that anyone doesn’t want this to work, and doesn’t want this to happen. But I just think the fact is big organisations, there is a lot more bureaucracy. And that starts the whole thing, the way that we work.

That’s why that’s why they branded so good, because you accidentally say it all the time. That basically the way that blend works, and the way that a lot of stops work and smaller companies that are trying to innovate and come up with solutions is that we don’t have the bureaucracy, you don’t have the red tape to jump through to get something changing.

Governments or something like the UN must be an absolute nightmare to kind of just get stuff rolling quickly. And I think the thing is that there’s going to be innovation coming from the private sector. And then basically, the schools and governments will be trying to do their side of it as well. And stuff will go wrong along the way. But I mean, as everyone keeps pushing, everyone’s kind of rowing in the same direction.

It’s just some of the boats are bigger and take a lot more term to turn. But I think everyone’s sharing a lot of what they’re doing. I think at least it’s good, everyone’s kind of pushing in the right direction. And hopefully the people at the front that are kind of coming up with stuff will share it with people that are slower to catch up.

Over time, everyone has the advantage, although that is one thing that people tend to overlook is the barriers to actually using e learning.

Tom Payani  28:13

This is what I wanted to move on to next because there’s another stat I’ve got here, talking about the gap between those from privileged and disadvantaged backgrounds. And this is, I think, from Australia, specific to Australia. But it says virtually all 15 year olds from a privileged background, however you define that said they had a computer to work on nearly 25% of those from disadvantaged backgrounds did not.

And I think the point is, obviously that’s quite an ambiguous statistic. But that’s not what I’m too worried about right now. I think the point is that there’s a clear digital divide isn’t there. And this was something that has really come into focus since COVID. Since schooling became online. And this is because we sit here and we can talk about augmented reality, virtual reality, using amazing animation in our projects, with loads of bells and whistles on making it look super slick and super cool.

Of course, we love doing that. And it’s interesting, and it’s nice to have free rein with all the skills and technical capabilities we have. But the bottom line is there’s only a certain percentage of projects where that’s even relevant for.

Brendan Cox  29:31

Yeah, and I think part of what we started planned for in the first place was that it was actually we believed in everyone should have access to this stuff. So on one side, we’ve kind of yeah, we love making creative stuff. But the truth is, is that part of what drives us is actually, simpler is better.

And if it works and it does the job. The simpler it is, the better it is. In the UK, I’m a bit detached from it now because we are in France, but I was chatting to my mum. And she was saying there’s a lot of craziness going on with the laptop system in situations where they realised actually they do go into into elearning. And then suddenly, tonnes and tonnes of kids in the UK and families in the UK just didn’t have access to the resources.

And you sort of go off in the third world, it must be difficult to deal with eLearning, but we’re talking about the UK, there shouldn’t even be a discussion happening about that – everyone should have access to this sort of stuff.

I think that part of the compromise that we have to do. In some ways, it’s a good limitation to not make fat bloated eLearning and making ridiculously long courses. I mean, like there was there was a number I was talking to someone about. And they were saying that a lot of the time, they get paid to make big bits of eLearning for a for an agency or corporation. And they find the engagement drops off after a quite short amount of time.

They realised that when they properly went in and analysed it and asked all of the users, they’d all worked out everything, and we’re doing a great job after the first four or five questions. And they were like, Oh, it’s just repetitive after that, we all knew what we did. And so there’s, there’s definitely an opportunity to not only make e learning more accessible, more efficient, and more competitive.

Learn Appeal for example. We’re working with them and like collaborating with them. And they’ve built this device that generates a Wi Fi signal, within 100 metre radius. With any device that can sign on to Wi-Fi, I mean, we’re talking even old school blackberries, and can access the learning on that. And the software they use is really simple. And you don’t have to put in tonnes of animations and all this kind of other stuff, or VR AR, it’s literally well written nicely copyright copy edited and concise, to the point useful content that is useful because it’s targeted.

It’s not just one load of elearning. For everybody, it’s specific to the locations where they’re sending this device out into countries where they don’t even have internet. It is a bit like with the making short films or making independent movies, because you’ve got the budget limitations. And because you’ve got the restrictions on the number of people, the equipment, all this kind of stuff. You have to think smarter. And I think that it’s a good opportunity to do that.

Tom Payani  32:41

For me, it always comes back to this. This idea of good design is reductive. That translates. And that’s also applicable for learning design. This as simple as that. And we whenever we make a project, we try to use that philosophy as much as we can. And we want something to cut the fat.

Brendan Cox  33:10

It shouldn’t be the job of the learner to make things feel simple. Because that’s straightforward. It’s like everyone knows E = mc squared. Basically, it’s insanely complicated. But the point is that everyone knows the work behind it. And I think that with eLearning and the distribution of eLearning – the hard work should be put in early on to make sure that it can go out to everybody, and it can be understood by everybody.

Tom Payani  33:44

You could see something that’s super simple, super elegant. And what we love is knowing what actually has gone on in the design phase there. And what’s enabled it to look that simple and elegant. The work behind that.

Brendan Cox  34:02

We are going to start digging into some of our projects as we do them and how we work because I think that’s there’s this there’s plenty of other geeky people out there that like that kind of stuff. So we were interested to share that kind of side of things as well I think.

Tom Payani  34:24

I want to I want to dig in a bit more about Learn Appeal – the company you mentioned. Sticking on this topic of the digital divide. I think it’s really important to put an exclamation mark on this point that the digital divide is happening in developed countries as well. And you look at someone like Marcus Rashford, who brought attention to school lunches and these problems in the UK and, and often there’s an assumption.

Many people in countries like the UK think, yeah, everyone’s doing all right. We don’t have poverty in the real sense. And it’s just not true. We do have poverty in the real sense. And it’s super sad, and it’s something we really need to acknowledge that it’s a genuine issue in in our country, and we need to face up to it, and we need to do something about it.

It’s not acceptable. But just sticking to the digital divide aspect of it. This is not just, you know, trying to create learning devices that can be used for kids in Africa, countries like the UK, France, America, wherever, there’s plenty of kids who don’t have the technology they need to do basically learning courses.

I think this is something that, hopefully is coming more to the fore now in which the digital divide is just another aspect of the growing inequality we have in general, which is obviously a wider discussion. But this is something that has to be addressed. We can do as best we can, from an elearning point of view, but it’s not just in developing countries all across the world, where this digital divide is a massive, massive problem.

Brendan Cox  36:18

There are a lot of different contributing factors, but there’s that big issue of infrastructure basically being driven by people’s ability to consume. So they’re not going to put in high speed broadband into a tiny little village in the middle of nowhere. Because the amount of value gained from it for people shopping online and doing things like that just isn’t there.

If you have communities that already don’t have very much to begin with, and then put a barrier of entry to actually developing themselves with the learning and being connected, because they don’t have anything in the first place, then they are stuck in this loop.

In some places, you can’t afford internet. Part of the problem in Kenya, where they were running the programme. Is it’s so expensive, that it costs more than their kind of weekly income to run a whole course, to download a whole course. And so there’s the cost aspect of it, but also the infrastructure.

Humans are always a bit like, oh, well, it will never happen here. It won’t happen to us. I mean, you’ve got, obviously on a wider scale, you’ve got crazy things like minus 18 degrees in Texas, you’ve got like the areas in America where there’s no nowhere to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. There’s all these in plenty of developed countries where there’s massive inequality in services, infrastructure, access to stuff, and I think, yeah, the good thing is free learning, it’s digital.

So the main barrier of entry is connectivity. Learn Appeal come up with ways where it sidesteps that issue. It works in the middle of nowhere in Kenya, where there’s not even not even a phone line. But it can work in a cul de sac in in the UK where everyone’s internet isn’t fast enough.

Tom Payani  38:59

Yeah, one thing that I’ve learned since we started Blend, is when I came in, I had more of a mentality of: Oh yeah, let’s integrate virtual reality and augmented reality into our projects. And let’s show off this technology and make really cool, creative, interesting elearning using the technology that’s available. And of course, like I said, earlier on in the podcast, there’s still a place for that.

But I’ve realised how important access is. And I’ve realised it’s not about showing showing off with the technology you have. It’s about what elearning we can create that can reach the most amount of people and that is more important than I envisaged at the start. I didn’t realise how big a problem this digital divide was in the first place.

Brendan Cox  39:55

When I started I came at it from the just looking at it through the lens of a designer, which was elearning was basically underfunded in terms of design, it was given the minimum amount of effort, because they just didn’t want to spend the money on it.

It was a bit crappy, it didn’t work very well. And it looked a bit crappy, it didn’t work very well. And the reality is, is that throwing more time a design at it isn’t what’s going to make it better. It’s a part of it, but not in terms of just making it more bells and whistles. I think that’s one thing we’ve definitely discovered is that it doesn’t need to be more bells and whistles.

We have started putting more of our effort into the analysis and the strategic end of it to actually, the design is in the thought that goes into the project, not necessarily spending hours and hours and hours making something really heavy duty at the development end of it.

Tom Payani  41:05

Yeah, I’m gonna put you on the spot here. So apologies. I want you to just quickly summarise that idea you sent me of: The form of the technology is not important when it comes to the type of learning. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Brendan Cox  41:31

And the medium of the actual elearning should be based on the content itself? Not on the user? Right? Or the person designing it? So the idea is that how you present it should be optimised for what the content is.

Tom Payani  41:48

So the content informs the form of presentation, or the technology used to present it rather than the user or just what is available to you.

Brendan Cox  42:01

Yes, it is function over form. You basically what you’re trying to do, in the most efficient way, do it in the medium that matches that. Don’t try and change it to suit everybody. Because it’s like that thing of if you make a make a movie that everyone’s supposed to, like, it’s gonna be this sort of medium ground garbage.

Tom Payani  42:31

Yeah, so I think just coming back to how elearning and education are going to change and how it’s been accelerated because of COVID. I think one important thing that I wanted to make sure we spoke about before the end of this podcast was how public and private educational partnerships are going to grow in importance.

In the UK, for example, you have Joe Wicks, who’s famous for being the body coach, you know, became famous on social media. Not John Wick haha, I mean, unless you wanted to teach kids how to be assassins, but I’m not sure if that’s in the national curriculum. Joe wicks, he was giving PE lessons. So he was doing virtual lessons over zoom, as at the same time every day.

The parents could leave their kids to do those lessons at nine o’clock in the morning, every day – it was either a half hour, 45 minute session with them. That is just a good example for me of how I could possibly see that education moving towards a blend of outside interests and being involved in the curriculum.

I don’t want to conflate this with academies in the UK, where you have private sector ownership and investment in schools, that’s a different thing. It can get a bit messy this conversation, especially when you start talking about China, for example, where the Ministry of Education there has assembled different stakeholders to be involved in cloud based online learning platforms involved in the restructuring of the education infrastructure, where you have private companies getting involved in how the curriculum is going to be delivered digitally.

So there you have a different conversation, where how much private influence there should be in a national curriculum. Obviously, China is a very different example to the UK or the US. But I do think there’s going to be more of a merging having outside partnerships and outside actors involved in the national curriculum.

I’ve explained that really badly and not very eloquently at all. You look at people online influencers, you know, for example, Joe Wicks has given lessons. What is to stop a chef doing a YouTube lesson with recipes and then integrated into the national curriculum for school cooking lessons.

Brendan Cox  45:29

Yep. Well, if you look at something like the website masterclass. I think this is one of the things that’s going to come out of what with what’s going on – is that the blended approach doesn’t necessarily need to put all of the weight onto individual teachers.

What you can actually do is having something like masterclass, which I urge everyone to check out, there’s a really cool one on there for the guy that built the Sims, I think we mentioned it before. The idea is that you learn the fundamentals. Will Wright, yeah.

And you learn the fundamentals off of a master in that subject. And they give you the foundation. And then what you do is you work with your teacher, or your technician or your parents if you’re being schooled, like, home being schooled. They basically support you while you follow up that learning that you’ve learned off that expert. And I think that’s definitely a way you can work, and businesses can sponsor those types of things – like you can imagine TEDx would be a really good one.

Tom Payani  46:34

You have explained my point much more eloquently and succinctly than me, cheers for that.

Brendan Cox  46:39

You’re welcome, design is reductive.

Tom Payani  46:44

In Hong Kong based group called read together. They’re like a consortium of over 60 educational organisations, publishers and media, industry professionals, like you’re talking about masterclass. And then they provide more than 500 educational assets, including videos, books, tools of assessment, even counselling services. So I think this is a good example of what you could see starting to happen in countries around the world in terms of how the curriculum and education system could possibly change post COVID.

Brendan Cox  47:27

When we started, I wasn’t aware of the infrastructure aspect as an actual thing to think about, and consider when we were designing stuff. And I think like you said, the more we’ve been digging into the way that the content itself is changing, we need to always keep an eye on the connectivity and make sure that having access to this stuff is as important as having good stuff in the first place.

Tom Payani  47:58

Yeah. Cool, man. I think that’s probably enough for today, isn’t it?

Brendan Cox  48:06

We could discuss the merits of the Chinese education system another time.

Tom Payani  48:10

All right. Brilliant. Let’s catch up next week.

Brendan Cox  48:19

Yeah, and I’ll start a GoFundMe for John Wick PE lessons.

Intro/Outro  48:30

Thanks for listening to the Blend podcast. It’s available on Spotify, Google and Apple. You can find blend interactive content on LinkedIn, or Don’t forget to like and subscribe. See you next time

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