Learning Thursday is a blog series that features a new L&D article every other week along with discussion points. Read and then share your own ideas by commenting below! Check out the last Learning Thursday here.
Connected learning occurs when a learner seeks knowledge, resources, and fellowship around a specific interest or topic. Unlike traditional methods from the past, there is no instructor carefully formulating an environment and telling the learner what they are supposed to do in order to gather knowledge. The experience relies on the learner to seek information that satisfies their desired outcomes. There is less structure, but structure in learning does not always equal value. Informal social interactions are critical to the design of the experience.
In connected learning, a teacher can be a learner and vice versa. Each individual contributes their areas of strength, and benefits from the knowledge of others. Collective knowledge sharing provides value to everyone participating in the environment. Teachers and learners may also curate each other’s content. Ideas and questions can be debated freely and the group is able to reach considered conclusions that reflect thoughts of the collective group. Learning technology platforms can help us deliver a connected learning experience by allowing learners to create discussion boards, share their own content and provide feedback to others.
Connected learning does not have structured deadlines, or a formal beginning and end. The ebb and flow of the learning experience follows the individual’s lead, which can make assessment and quantification difficult. Evaluations have to be based in observable behaviors and outcomes, such as project work or solutions offered in response to problems. From personal experience, connected learning can also take more time to deliver than a formal learning experience because it is less streamlined. However, the learner benefits from deeper understanding stemming from imperfect problems, diverse opinions, and real-life examples.
When I think of connected learning, I think of my personal experience in the learning technology industry. Until I began my graduate studies, all of my career knowledge was gathered informally from my own experiences as well as interactions with colleagues on social media and at conferences. When I began working as a learning management system administrator, I only knew one other person who had a similar job role. I turned to the online corporate training community for mentorship and found tremendous value in reading articles and posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Adobe eLearning blog. In terms of career development, the value of informal learning has been very important to me and to many other people.
What do you see as the biggest benefit and challenge of implementing connected learning in your organization?
If you’re interested in using learning technology to support connected learning, check out Adobe Captivate Prime’s new social learning features. Connect with the author on Twitter or LinkedIn, and follow me on Adobe’s eLearning blog.