Fusing the learning experience

As more customers have started looking at Web 2.0 and learning 2.0 as a way to encourage greater learner engagement and learning effectiveness, I believe the way web based training (WBT) courses are created right now should change.

WBTs should have the elements of collaboration within them. Take for example a course on Ethics that each employee in the company needs to complete.  This course needs a lot of collaboration (shared experiences, group reflection etc) in order to be learnt effectively. In the WBT environment, as the learner takes the course, there should be elements that allow learning through collaboration. These could take the form of a collaboration toolbar that allows access to blogs, presentations (slideshare, for example), shared audio/video (youtube, for example) and also to people – learners who have taken the course earlier or experts within the company – via instant messaging or email. Not only does this bring other resources into the WBT in a structured format, but also provides a way for the learner herself to contribute and collaborate during the course, providing much higher levels of engagement and collaboration.

And not only that, this learning on ethics needs to keep on getting reinforced – it should lead to a behavioural change that occurs over a longer term. A simple episodic WBT cannot do more than set the tone or initiate/kindle the change.

A community that the learner collaborates with during learning will still exist post the course is complete in the learner’s own PLE map or collaboration space. To maintain continuity and grow the community, for example, after completing the course, the learner could be automatically enrolled in a blog that allows her to share her experiences as they occur – leading to an ideal state where all employees of the company have a specific collaboration space on ethics!

In many ways, our learning experience has acquired multiple views. One view is the VLS/MLE/LMS view, where content is provided in a prescribed format. The other view is the PLE view, where one’s own learning is an aggregation of what is prescribed and what is subscribed to and which would go beyond organizational boundaries both in terms of learning areas and collaborators. The third view is a hybrid, which attempts to seamlessly merge and un-merge the components of either view, depending upon what the learner wants or needs at a particular point in time. The hybrid view is what, in my opinion, should come and stay for good for really enhanced learning experiences.

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