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Thursday, September 07, 2017

The digital transformation of learning: Social, informal, self-service, and enjoyable | ZDNet

"Technology has long been used to improve how we learn, but today's digital advances, particularly with social media, have taken learning in powerful new -- and for some -- entirely unexpected directions" says Dion Hinchcliffe, expert in information technology, business strategy, and next-generation enterprises.
Photo: ZDNet

The vast co-created commons of the Internet have long been seen as a way for the connected and motivated to learn on their own. However, as digital has fundamentally changed how we find knowledge and share information with each other, it has also steadily shifted the landscape of learning itself: The typical person today is far more likely to reach for their mobile phone to learn something than find a relevant book or go to the library.

Call it the digitization of learning or just the realization of the the promise of the Internet, it's become abundantly clear that freeform online repositories of knowledge such as YouTube and Wikipedia, as well as dozens of open, high quality digital learning platforms such as Coursera, Open Culture, or the Khan Academy have become leading new instruments for global learning.

It's also not an accident that each of these examples are rooted in mass collaboration and/or online community. In fact, it's the rise and continued growth of massively open online courses (MOOCs) over the last few years was perhaps the harbinger of a major change traditional learning. Even many formal learning institutions have accepted the inevitable and began to take up the supremely easy-to-use digital tools along with a mindset of democratization that has begun to infuse the world of education.

In the traditional world of corporate education -- employee orientation, onboarding, and skill building, for example -- passive learning was and still is the norm, consisting largely of sitting down and then consuming pre-packaged content in bulk that's presented formally by an educator.

Digital learning has consumerized 
This is sharp contrast to the digital era, where knowledge is pervasive, instantly searchable, consumable on-demand, and kept continuously up-to-date by millions of daily global contributors to the online commons. This allows learning -- for better or worse, depending on the critic -- to be far more situational, on-demand, self-directed, infinitely customized, even outright enjoyable, depending on the user experience, all of which leads to more profound engagement of learners.

In addition, the rise of social networking technology has allowed people with similar learning interests to come together as a group to share knowledge on a subject -- and perhaps even more significantly -- to express their passion for an area of learning. This can create deeper, more intense, and more immersive educational experiences within a community of like-minded learners.

All of these trends in digital learning have had a dramatic impact on an important segment of the software industry used for corporate learning and development, the increasingly venerable -- and some would say outdated -- learning management system (LMS), which like so many aspects of the enterprise, has been profoundly challenged by the many innovations coming from the world of consumer technology.

The rise of community-centric learning 
In my own work, I've seen in the last couple of years that talent development staff no longer push so hard for rote digital learning systems. Instead, it is now often seen in the industry literature -- such as this recent example from the Association for Talent Development -- to praise models for learning that are more interactive, community-based, peer-produced, and individually-guided. Learning from internal experts, group conversation, and through shared media such as photos and video is increasingly the norm, as corporate spending on formal learning correspondingly drops.
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Source: ZDNet