Archive for December, 2006

Learning in the digital age

Learning has changed significantly over the past decade with our learning environment shifting towards a more informal, networked and technology-supported arena.  While workshops and formal study will always have their place, the growth of e-learning and online collaboration has illustrated the need to research and define a new learning model to support us in developing effective e-learning experiences. We’ve been closely following the development of the Connectivism model (pioneered by George Siemens) and its application to content development. 

Connectivism is gaining support due to the significant trends occurring in learning. These include: 

  •  Informal learning is now a significant aspect of our learning experience. Learning occurs in a variety of ways – through personal networks, online communities and through completion of project-based tasks.
  • Learning is a lifelong process where learning and work related activities are no longer as separate as they once were. 
  •  Technology is influencing and shaping our thinking and approach to learning new tasks.
  •   Know-how and know-what are being overtaken by the need for know-where (ie the understanding of where to find key knowledge).

So what are the key principles for connectivism and what do they mean for your e-learning development projects? Here’s three key ones we think should be top-of-mind when approaching any design. 

 1. Learning has an end goal – namely the increased ability to “do something”.  

This might be in a practical sense or in the ability to function more effectively in a knowledge era. Content design must include strategies that motivate the learner to apply the knowledge and make decisions as part of the learning experience.

 2. Learning is about connecting to a range of information sources.  

A learner can significantly improve their own learning by plugging into an existing network. Content design must incorporate links to other resources such as: blogs, wikis, websites, reference libraries, to allow the learner to go ‘deeper’ into the topic area as required.  

3. Knowing where to find information is more important than knowing all the actual information.    Content design must include pathways and navigation trees to show learners how to access the stuff they need, when they really need it, and in the format they require.  In future posts on Evolve we’ll explore effective content design strategies that use connective techniques.