Our learning experience design is focused, essentially, on achieving one particular learning objective. At the level of curricular design, we are then looking at sequences of learning objectives that lead to aggregate competencies. And these are delivered as punctate events. But with mobile technologies, we have the capability to truly start to deliver what I call ‘slow learning': delivering small bits of learning over time to really develop an individual. It’s a more natural map to how we learn; the event model is pretty broken. Most of our learning comes from outside the learning experience. But can we do better?
Really, I don’t think we have a handle on designing and delivering a learning experience that is spaced over time, and layered over our real world activities, to develop individuals in micro bits over a macro period of time rather than macro bits over a micro bit of time (which really doesn’t work). We have pieces of the puzzle ( smaller chunks, content models) and we have the tools (individualized delivery, semantics), but putting them together really hasn’t been done yet.
Conceptually, it’s not hard, I reckon. You have more small chunks of content, and more distributed performance model. You couple it with more self-evaluation, and you design a system that is patiently persistent in assisting people and supporting them along. You’d have to change your content design, and provide mechanisms to recognize external content and real performance contexts as learning experiences. You’d want to support lots of forms of equivalency, allowing self-evaluation against a rubric to co-exist with mentor evaluation.
There are some consequences, of course. You’d have to trust the learner, they’d have to understand the value proposition, it’s a changed model that all parties would have to accommodate. On the other hand, putting trust and value into a learning arrangement somehow feels important (and refreshingly different :). The upside potential is quite big, however: learning that sticks, learners that feel invested in, and better organizational outcomes. It’s really trying to build a system that is more mentor like than instructor like. It’s certainly a worthwhile investigation, and potentially a big opportunity.
The point is to take the fact that technology is no longer the limit, our imaginations are. Then you can start thinking about what we would really want from a learning experience, and figure out how to deliver it. We still have to figure out what our design process would look like, what representations we would need to consider, and our associated technology models, but this is doable. The possibility is now well and truly on the table, anyone want to play? I’m ready to talk when you are.