The Learning Environment – Today

So in prepping for our upcoming session at the eLearning Guild Conference in Orlando, on April 15, I’ve been doing a bunch of research on the trends in learning management systems.

I ran across a really good white paper by Ecto, titled: In search of the next generation online learning environment. The thing that really impressed me was one quote in particular:

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, classroom pedagogy was characterized by one-way, teacher centered/text-book-centered delivery of single-media information to students whose role was that of passive receptor.

This is dead on, and those days are gone. How are today’s learners learning? Well, it’s collaborative; it’s social, and it’s quasi-connected. So how do learning management systems accommodate for these qualities?

According to the 2007 eLearning Guild 360 report, the Department of Labor studies show that 70% of our learning is “informal” or non-classroom, then why do we continue to turn to an outdated “classroom” teaching mode to model our learning environments? These don’t reflect how we’re learning or how we’re living.

I’ve been teaching Humanities as an adjunct on the college level since ’95, and I miss the days of standing in front of a classroom, interacting with live students, but this approach is fast becoming ineffective. It’s not that it’s just passive; it’s no longer engaging to the 21st Century mind. We can’t continue to model systems on this delivery method, exclusively.

So how do we create the Next Gen learning environment? The key is in turning to the use-case. Let’s do some old-fashion learner analysis to see what needs to be learned and how. Then let’s design a system that not only allows but encourages that behavior. If necessary, let’s include technology that doesn’t even exist yet. Maybe that will force us to consider near-term alternatives, creatively brainstorming an iterative approach to the next platform, rather than cherry picking from an outdated feature listing.

As we’ve developed the Knowledge Direct platform, we’ve continually asked ourselves “how and when would a learner user this?” If there’s no clear vision, then it’s probably just a feature, and not a function that will benefit the learner, administrator, instructor or content manager.

In my opinion, Next Gen learning needs to focus on continuing education, with learning portals that create centralized access to layers of interest — sort of a true object oriented approach to learning. I run a technology company; I teach Ancient/Classical and 21st Century Humanities, but I also write stage plays. So I need a portal that centralizes just-in-time and filtered RSS feeds on those subjects, so I can continually develop and connect with resources to help me succeed. I need to be in control of my learning. But as long as we refer to training as a “learning event”, it implies a singular, non-recurring interruption in our lives. This is wrong.

Learning must be continual, and we have a responsibility to invent a world that encourages that.

For more great information, check out our resources page. 

 Visit our LMS page to learn more about the Knowledge Direct Learning Management System.

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