How can technology innovations help us improve the way we learn?

Technology innovations drive industrial revolutions. Steam powered the 1st industrial revolution, electric power the 2nd, and exponential increases in computing power the 3rd. Combining this with the parallel evolution of communications technology, we see the development of smart connected devices which will drive the 4th industrial revolution.

The 4th industrial revolution is about integrating data from sensors and machines with the physical processes in production. It is the production counterpart of the consumer’s Internet of Things, where cars / buses and many other products we use in our lives are connected to the internet. One of the valuable ideas of this development is that more customisation / individualization / personalization is possible. We can participate in adapting products / services / technologies so they help to better satisfy needs we have.

The top 10 emerging technologies of 2015 include next generation robotics. Robots are increasingly working on tasks that go beyond assembling things in factories around the world. Better and cheaper sensors as well as better design and increasingly connected robots make robots more adaptable and more flexible. For example, robots could make sure that the prescription a human is picking up at the pharmacy won’t interact with other medications he or she is taking, says Erik Brynjolfsson. And to innovate farming, robots could help by driving tractors more efficiently than humans can.

We need to become good at understanding where machines can do a better job, where humans have the edge, and how to reinvent processes to make the most of both types of talent. Examples of questions we could ask ourselves in this regard could be:

  1. How can we help each other invest more time in developing our abilities to think / work creatively, continuously redefine what each of us does every day, and invent new possibilities?
  2. How can we increase our IT related skills as well as our abilities to innovate?
  3. How can we learn to work better with each other across increasingly digitized value chains? In this regard, how can we become even better at listening to each other?
  4. How do we learn to discover values that each one of us has? In this regard, what influence / impact do technology innovations have on who we are / who we want to become?
  5. How can we learn to better understand emotions that each one of us has in different situations in life? In this regard, how can we all strengthen competencies associated with caregiving?
  6. How can each of us use technology innovations to learn in ways we learn best?

With the rapid rate of technological change, it seems natural that, no matter how old we are, what we do, or where we are, we need to become good at learning continuously. 7 years in a row, Twitter has been voted in as the # 1 tool for learning. The relevant purpose of Twitter, To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers, has shown to be a useful one to guide progress. With Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, blogging technologies such as Blogger, Medium, Wordpress, and Facebook, webinars with live chat such as LSG webinars, as well as other social media, we have gotten access to technologies using which we can effectively share, for example, questions, ideas, and links with each other. Social media platforms, which are now used by more than 30% of the global population, have proved beneficial to complement, for example, e-mail and meetings and help create more value for more people. Advantages of blogs and related social media include being able to work / learn anytime and from anywhere. Also, these tools help us communicate more openly and continuously learn from each other across different borders, for example across companies and schools / universities.

As technology improves, machines may also develop into even better learning partners. Consider, for example, how robots help elderly people learn about fitness exercises at seniors’ activity centres around Singapore. Or think of Duolingo, an innovative language education platform using which we can, anytime and from anywhere, learn a new language by working on a number of challenges such as speaking, listening, and translating — and get immediate feedback throughout the process.

Some technologies / apps are even helping us learn face to face from people we did not know before. Consider Meetup, for example, using which anyone can join a local community and learn from other participants face-to-face in different places as well as on the Meetup platform. Also, think of how BlaBlaCar makes it possible for us to learn from each other as we move from a to b. And think of Airbnb through which we have gotten the possibility to stay at each other’s places and learn from each other as we meet.