Jane Hart, who I have been following online for many years, is the Director of the Centre for Modern Workplace Learning, which she set up to help organizations and learning professionals modernize their approaches to workplace learning. Reading her online Modern Workplace Learning Magazine has alerted me to trends outside academia and outside the United States.
She recently posted an article titled "Designing, delivering and managing modern learning experiences" and that made me consider how I would define "modern learning." It would include school experiences for some of us, but for most people today it is more likely an experience that occurs in the workplace and on our own. That itself seems like a big shift from the past. Or is it?
If in 1917, someone had wanted to become a journalist, he could go to college, but he could also get a job without a degree - if he could show he was a good writer. He could do some freelance writing with or without pay to get some experience and samples. Move 50 years to 1967, and the path was more likely to be a school of journalism. What about today?
As Jane points out, the modern learning experience path for the workplace probably includes using:
- Google and YouTube to solve their own learning and performance problems
- social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn to build their own professional network (aka personal learning network)
- messaging apps on their smartphones to connect with colleagues and groups
- Twitter to participate in conference backchannels and live chats
- participating in online courses (or MOOCs) on platforms like Coursera, edX and FutureLearn
The modern learning experience is on demand and continuous, not intermittent, and takes place in minutes rather than hours. It occurs on mobile devices more than on desktop computers.
Jane Hart believes it is also more social with more interacting with people, and that it is more of a personally-designed experience. I don't know if that is true for educational learning. Is it true for the workplace on this side of the pond? Does the individual design the learning rather than an experience designed by someone "in charge."
Modernizing classroom learning has often been about making learning more autonomous (self-directed, self-organized and self-managed) but that model does not easily fit into the model used for the past few hundred years in classrooms.