A recent request for feedback on new learning technology research areas highlighted areas they thought were important, and a subset naturally struck me:
- the connection between formal and informal learning: an interest of mine since I first noticed the gap in organizations
- emotional and motivational aspects of technology-enhanced learning which was the topic of first book
- informal learning: which is a major component of my work as a member of the Internet Time Alliance
- personalization of learning: which was the focus of a project I led a decade ago and still an area of interest
- ubiquitous and mobile technology and learning: given that I’ve just written a book about it :)
As academics are wont to do, this isn’t a surprising list (there were interesting others as well) because despite the overlap there’s reason to study each on their own. But what inspired me was the intersection.
I started thinking about a vision (PDF) I had about 8 years ago now, where your portable mobile device would know where you are and what you are doing, and coupling that with your learning goals, would layer on support for developing your learning goals opportunistically based upon your context. Think about how you’d learn if you had no limits at all: your ideal could be to have a personal mentor always with you looking for opportunities to develop you.
The learning benefits are severalfold, it’s customized for you, and it’s focused on your interests. It also ideally would bridge the gap between formality and informality, as it could be more formal for a new area but then become more informal gradually. Another way to think of it is as ‘slow learning‘, (like ‘slow food’, not like ‘slow learner’) based upon a long-term relationship with (and a long-term interest in) the learner.
The technology capabilities make this possible. What is still required would be the curricula, the content, the rules, and the business model. If nothing else, I think organizations should be thinking about this internally, mobile or not. It is another way to start thinking about workscapes/performance ecosystems and a broader perspective on learning. Anyone game?