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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Beyond the Classroom | Learning Delivery - Chief Learning Officer

Amy W. Loomis, director of digital learning at IBM Think Academy and Robert M. Burnside, former chief learning officer at Ketchum summarizes, "The digital revolution presents challenges and opportunities to the traditional classroom delivery model."

Photo: Chief Learning Officer

In the university model that emerged in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries, the professor faced the class and expounded wisdom. The class debated it. The professor summarized it. Done. Knowledge formed and agreed to by the community.

In the 21st century, nothing and everything has changed about the classroom learning experience.

Look around at the explosion of digital, mobile, cloud and AI technologies and it’s easy to think we have entered a completely new era of learning. And yet much of the behavioral mechanics remain the same. Is virtual learning different from face-to-face learning? Can digital learning at scale accomplish the same depth of learning that a classroom can provide?

Digital learning did not turn out to be the panacea promised but neither has it gone away as detractors predicted. It has evolved alongside other technologies. Cloud computing allows for sharing and creating multimedia content at scale. Data analytics enable user experience tracking and personalization. The best MOOCs are socially interactive, track learning behaviors and offer incentives for completing courses. Artificial intelligence helps us understand learning behavior patterns and predict challenges.

In the traditional university classroom, the Socratic paradigm of eager learners receiving wisdom from seasoned professors has not changed much in the past eight centuries. Early digital and distance learning merely transferred the traditional lecture to a visual medium. The introduction of social media, mobile devices and new conventions for digital learning created in the era of cloud, data, analytics and AI – along with the cultural expectations of consumer culture they’ve built – have blown it apart.

The Digital Disruption
Digital learning challenges fundamental assumptions of intellectual authority in the classroom. Instant digital access offers students the opportunity to validate, expand, challenge or substitute for traditional classroom knowledge.

At the same time, the small group experience of the classroom competes with broadly defined communities such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn. But the echo chamber present in those communities threatens to replace the debate and discussion of contrary perspectives that happens in the classroom. False facts and fake online news makes the job of teachers all the more critical as arbiters of the tools to critically analyze what counts as truth...

Where is the awkward silence, the opportunity for learning while in transit, the ancillary messy elements that come with often uncomfortable but rewarding experiences that happen in the hybrid live-digital world in which we live?

The good news is we can use the technology of digital learning to create a new university model informed by and intertwined with the tools and tropes of online engagement. Here are three examples:

Digital learning frees us from the constraints of physical space and time. The place of digital learning is free from the physical limitations of the classroom. People gather from wherever they are, meaning cross-pollination of ideas happens across the planet. It also gives us the ability to stop time and re-listen to a key point in a presentation or jump ahead.

Digital learning offers an opportunity to gain knowledge through conversation within a broader community. Instead of operating in isolation, our knowledge and opinions can be part of a wider discussion. The traditional role of the professor as class moderator over orator takes on new urgency and importance. Classrooms have always been about creating a context for shared conversation and learning. Digital learning offers an opening of that aperture and a means of documenting and codifying the collective knowledge the classroom is building together.

Digital learning has the potential to alter the power dynamics between the traditional knowledge giver (professor) and knowledge seeker (student). Digital learning platforms offer a more level playing field for conversation, shared understanding and the creation of shared experience. We can make use of the conversational conventions of online learning as an experience that is in itself a collective voice of authority.
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Source: Chief Learning Officer


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