The future of learning: Technology coupled with human interaction

A blended approach that includes both digital and classroom methods is necessary

Updated: Mar 23, 2016 03:59:55 PM UTC
Technology enabled learning ecosystems allow the trainers to do a scientific and objective learning need analysis

Technology and learning have many things in common: They constantly evolve, there is always something new, and getting people to learn or adapt to new technologies requires great effort. Learning is often stereotyped as the bitter pill that has to be swallowed in order to grow, but the emphasis must fall on the willingness and openness to learn, as well as the process of learning itself.

Technology has facilitated learning to a great extent, it has opened and enhanced learning through MOOCs (massively open online courses), and cloud-based applications. It has also spiked the use of webinars, podcasts and social media-based learning in the digital space. Jane Heart, of the Center for Learning and Performance Technologies, has compiled a list of top 100 learning tools of 2015; the top 5 tools in this list comprise Twitter, YouTube, Google search, Google docs among many others.

What can we do to make our learning programmes better?

  • Personalised Approach: Technology-enabled learning ecosystems allow the trainers to do a scientific and objective learning need analysis. Cloud-based and mobile-based technologies enable 24x7 accesses to learners, anytime, anywhere, any device. Learners respond better if the programmes are curated and customised to make their learning more personalised.
  • Practical Implications: Research confirms that through contextually curated content, learners are able to imbibe learning better, if they understand the context of a particular training programme and how it will help them in real business scenarios.
  • Theory vs Practice: There is enough evidence that confirms that more impactful learning occurs where the learners are encouraged to apply their learning on real life-based projects. It is believed that learning stays longer if applied at the workplace.
  • Learning among peers: In today’s world, knowledge is no more restricted to an individual or an institution. Learners can access learnings through peers and juniors.
  • The problem solving networks: LinkedIn and Google plus are playing an important role here. I have gained a lot by connecting with experts in the learning area and seeking their inputs and advice on various learning-related subjects.
  • Work through play: Technology-driven business simulations and game-based approach (Gamification) catches the fancy of the millennials and helps in impactful learning.
  • Facilitating the learner: Enhancing learner autonomy by providing a pervasive learning ecosystem that focuses on blending with formal, informal and social media aided learning. A learning ecosystem that provides access through classrooms, digital platforms, mobile, etc enables a learner to build on his learning style/preference and learn at his own pace.
  • Training Analytics: We have been working on developing an analytics-based approach for providing a blended coaching environment for our first time leaders. This helps them access learning from leaders with access to videos, published content and coaching. The data collected from usage patterns and questions asked helps us do a scientific training need analysis which helps avoid standard calendar-based offerings and focussed customised training on the actual learning needs.

Learning on the go, at any time, is something that will find many takers, especially people who work in different shifts, busy with work-related travel, etc. Specific to our BPO industry, such approaches and models are being tested and deployed. In my organisation, we have deployed tablets, learning kiosks and cloud-based learning ecosystems, where we are getting a good response on user adaption and learning effectiveness. In a nutshell, a pervasive learning ecosystem with multiple learning access points is the need of the hour.

According to a leading research company, Markets and Markets, Smart Education & Learning Market will be worth $446.85 billion by 2020. Another research data presented by Docebo research organisation states while the worldwide market for Self-Paced E-Learning reached $35.6 billion in 2011, the five-year compound annual growth rate is estimated at around 7.6 percent, so revenues should reach some $51.5 billion by 2016.

Although technology helps scale up the process, it also dehumanises certain factors. People need to interact with one another, impart and learn from each other’s experiences. The stories we share with each other, the successes and the failures will change the way we learn. In my experience, a blended approach that includes both digital and classroom methods, is the future of learning.

- By Amit Nagpal, Head of Capability Planning & Development Infosys BPO

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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