Future of Learning Platforms
First let’s acknowledge that the future is already here.
We are living in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution, powered by data, providing every business and organization a digital pathway to engage with their customers in all new ways. The future of learning platforms will leverage the same technologies that are used to engage customers with their favorite brands. By understanding each customer as an individual we can provide each person a custom experience that delivers value and enhances the experience with the company.
Ok, now let’s change one word, ‘customer’. Let’s change it to ‘learner’ because in the 21st century the meaning of illiteracy has changed from not being able to read and write to the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn.
The future learning platform will be unbounded from our current structures of ‘term’ and ‘course’, delivering learning experiences across a lifetime. This model of continuous learning, the ‘Netflix’ model for education, that provides universities with a way to constantly align and engage with necessary learning that will power a world in which 65% of the students entering primary school today do not even know the roles and jobs they will have when they venture into the world.
Here are a few key traits of a future learning platform, one that has the ability to deliver learning across a lifetime:
Extensible/API first design — let’s face it, no platform will ever be the ‘one’ place to learn across a lifetime. Understanding that fact will lead the design down a pathway that is visioned API, or integration first.
Modularity — Modularity both in the design of the application as well as the curriculum. Taking a page from the Salesforce’s Trailhead manual, make it fun, engaging and watch the learning happen. This ‘just in time’ learning is very valuable and is leveraged by large scale learning platforms like Khan Academy.
Standardized data model — President Crow from ASU talks about The Universal Learner. To realize this at world scale a Universal Learner Record, one that captures accomplishments across a lifetime, must be created.There is great work being done in this space by ASU, Concentric Sky, Brighthive and The DXtera Institute to name a few. In the ASU engagement the Universal Learner Record is being defined and leveraged to unlock new values to learners, ASU and the industry.
Knowledge maps — To meet the need of a ever changing future the outcomes that are aggregated into Learning Objectives in a domain need to be decomposed to their granular outcome state. This granularity will produce knowledge maps of the necessary competencies needed for any subject of study. This approach also provides a way to craft content and assessment at the same granularity.
Content/Assessments — Sourcing content needed to instruct at this granular level is difficult at best. The system that the necessary, mobile friendly (#DeathToFlash), high fidelity content and assessments that aligned directly to a specific outcome will live and be socially ranked and rated. Over time the prescribed pathway may be augmented by other content that learners on the same or similar journey found helpful.
Curricular design — cataloging the curriculum, experiences, content and assessments for a given domain, if done, is done with tools like Excel. Communing with other faculty members to understand how their instruction fits into the education of a learner is something that is possible today with tools like CourseTune. This tool not only ‘tunes up’ your curriculum, it provides a social capacity for educators to communicate about, and reflect on, what they teach.
Social — it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The thesis by Julia Freeland Fisher in her new book titled Who You Know talks about how the social modality can provide access to a demographic that historically is limited by their zip code. To quote Paul LeBlanc the President of SNHU, talent is distributed, opportunity isn’t. The social modality is one way to reach the unreachable and deliver opportunity to the underserved, not to manage a threaded discussion!
BYOD 2.0 — version one of BYOD stood for Bring Your Own Device. In the 4th Industrial Revolution, the D will not stand for devices, it will stand for Data. The promise of distributed ledger technology has provided a way to deliver the learner a valid and trusted representation of their knowledge and understanding. This information that is currently housed in information systems with a registrar as the intermediary validating the credential is released to the learner to power their future in this global knowledge economy. This creates 1/2 of what I’m calling the Digital Rosetta Stone, one that will translate the wants and needs of industry to academia. Insuring that we have the necessary talent to power our futures.
Self sovereign identity — There is a crisis of trust in the digital world, one that has begun to eroded the foundation of truth. With technologies that can create video content that is completely fake, we can not trust what we read, hear, or see. The promise of self sovereign identity systems not only put the person in control of their information it begins to craft a digital reputation. This reputation, validated by others, becomes a representation of our digital selves. Once we value our digital presence, as we do our analog one, we will realize a different digital future.
A future that is already here…
Stay tuned and I will continue to blog about the work that we are doing at Salesforce to empower our customers, partners and community in the 4th Industrial Revolution.