Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” In a world defined by flux, education itself is the only certainty of 100% return — and sometimes the only lifeboat we have to remain relevant in a world tossed by constant change.
Edtech (education technology) has dominated the news recently, with the massive EduTech Africa expo having just been hosted in South Africa. Seoul-based education technology startup Mathpresso, which has international investors impressed, also recently completed a vital second round of funding, showing how viable edtech is considered by financiers. This is a world dominated by technologically disrupted and disruptive learning.
But what if the very nature of learning and the systems and processes around education are themselves disrupted?
Actually, it is not the “future,” but the “now.” The learning landscape is shifting, paving the way for a whole new way of learning. Furthermore, because the shelf life of current skills is diminishing rapidly, learning suddenly has a “best before” sticker, which results in an accelerated urgency for the creation of ongoing learning and development.
So, what does that “now” look like? What are the latest trends in learning?
Gone are the days of the fixed learning schedule or the booked classroom. The new learning environment is characterized by interconnectivity, collaboration, active engagement, symbiosis and constant change.
Education is changing from all sides — the institutions, educators and learners. There are three key role players that are all equally important in successfully navigating the learning landscape.
Changes for the learner
First, the habits of the learners themselves have changed substantially. Learners now learn at the speed of need — where and when they want.
What’s more, learners have changed the way they view the value of their learning. It’s a far less passive endeavor than when the old guard was bored in classrooms. Learners, today, are asking for more accreditation to show prospective employers their constantly increasing value proposition. In fact, the lines between work and learning are blurring. Learning is now a seamless addition to work itself.
Because of this convergence, education becomes a much more personal experience, necessitating that any learning initiative not only be career-aligned, but also that it fulfill individual interests. During the learning process, learners will be encouraged to become more creative, adaptive and innovative.
Changes to the nature of learning itself
Because of this, the focus of learning will be introspective, self-driven, and personalized. Rather than punctuated by certain ad hoc milestones, it will become part of a long-term continuous career path. Learning will become more and more learner-led, with development frameworks being scoped and shaped from the bottom up rather than the top down.
Consequently, learning methods will adapt to this and be informed by peer-to-peer learning, even for self-education in the workplace. For example, employees will create and share content that is both relevant and material.
Technology will be paramount in assisting and improving learner engagement. And to be sufficiently engaging, the tech will have to be both mobile and social. Augmented and virtual reality will create new simulated learning situations, and artificial intelligence will be incorporated into the content delivery, allowing us to curate and adapt learning to be personalized and individual. Rather than the previous one-size-fits-all method of education, technologies will expose learners to different and dynamic modes of learning.
Virtual-collaboration rooms within organizations will become the new classroom, and technologies like gamification and VR will further change how learning happens. Employees want to see how they stack up against their peers, earn badges, collaborate, and feel a sense of accomplishment, all through technology. They will have to exhibit persistence, risk-taking, attention to detail and problem-solving to stay on top.
Changes to learning within organizations and at work
To remain relevant and competitive, organizations will have not only to change the way they approach learning, but they’ll also need to fundamentally shift the learning culture of the organization to show learning as assets contributing to and driving business results.
Within the workplace, the emergence of Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) like HowNow will enable employees to take full control of their learning and development. Employees will also expect to access content anytime, anywhere, as they do in their personal life, and workplaces will need to ensure that learning is mobile.
At the same time, the wise company will realize that an increased focus on soft-skills training — the human side of the equation — will assist in preparing employees for the future of work.
Let’s end with another quote: this one from a more current source. The educational mastermind and coiner of the term “e-learning,” Elliot Masie, says this:
“E-learning is changing. And we will see new models, new technologies and designs emerge. So, let’s drop the ‘e’ or at least give it a new and wider definition.”