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The future of learning

Between Coursera in The Hague, The Netherlands and today I’ve had a week in the French Alps, sans WiFi or Internet connection. Frustrated by this, at first I took the opportunity to reflect on two extraordinary days at the Coursera Partners’ Conference where my mind was successfully expanded, imploded and blown apart at the what learning online offers.

This is less about learning online, and more about the future of learning.

The Internet, and mobile, access and accessibility are opening up opportunities for tens of millions of learners.

How We Learn

I found myself making graphics such as this one.

‘How we are taught’ is the green pyramid. This is teaching as is, and as was. It is hierarchical and top down. Pupils are taught. Students are the base line, the masses who know nothing and require ‘educating’.

‘How we learn’ is the yellow pentagon. This, in representational form, is my impression of what neuroscience tells us about learning: we gather it in and respond to events and learning experiences in a multitude of ways. This learning ‘penetrates’ or brains from various sides, gathers in a number of hot spots and forms all kinds of unique, personal links that in time develop from shallow to deep learning, memory and even understanding. Which in turn can develop into practical use.

‘What it is turning into’ is the blue scribble. Again, this is simply my impression of it and appears to indicate confusion and complexity rather than understanding. What I mean by this is a greater tolerance, desire and acceptance as learning coming from multiple directions and forming an extraordinary complex array of meaning, value, misunderstanding, feelings and practical application.

It seems to me that learning online and the Internet, and the connectivity, accessibility and immediacy of mobile learning in particular, creates a ‘feeding frenzy’ or learning opportunity. How often have you had a conversation where a question is left unanswered and some one (there is only ever one of them), who is Googling for a response before you have finished your sentence. We are like kids forever asking ‘Why?’ and being indulged. You can find out ‘why’ and ‘what’ and ‘how’ with the speed of a spoken or typed in query to Google.








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