In many ways, the last 10 years has been all about getting smart (pun intended). First there was the smart phone, then the big-data movement, and we are on the fringe of smart wearable devices and artificial intelligence systems like Watson. I was on a banter recently and someone asked me about the future of education/learning – I said it is all about Smart Learning (or) Smart Education. So what does it actually mean?
Well, Smart Learning or Smart Education demonstrates the following characteristics. It is:
- Learner aware: As Big Data becomes more prominent and education finally figures out what it means, learning will become more learner aware. It will make an attempt to proactively understand what a learner is looking for and proactively deliver opportunities. For example, if a student continues to score below a threshold in Math, more practice problems can be delivered and if an employee joins project management community then their intent can be proactively used to deliver learning. There is a lot more that can be done here. We have only spoken about it thus far.
- Multi-channel: When Apple recently announced the hand-off feature for iOS & Mac where in one can start an activity on one device and continue on the other, they very symbolically set forth an opportunity for other industries. How do you figure this for learning? Additionally, all channels are here to stay. They will challenge how learning is designed and brought to bear for the learners. Classrooms will be flipped, designs will be blended, and in its most advanced form – hand-offs will be seamless.
- Habitual: In the morning when you barely open your eyes and curiously check weather, news, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, you are into a digital habit. Today, learning is not more deliberately and profoundly a digital habit. However, as technology evolves, a nugget of learning based on your needs (since it is learner aware) is delivered to you with the context of making it a digital habit.
- Environment-based: The good thing about internet of things and wearable devices is you can directly dig into the environment in which a learner operates. For example, a smart shoe can make you aware of feet pressure points and then learning is delivered based on that trend and it can become so habitual that it begins to play into your mind. Now take that and apply if these consumer wearable technology begins to get tailored for industrial wearable technology. The amount of sophistication these talking technology can lend to itself is just unfathomable. Taking that one step further, if this is powered by a Watson or a Artificial intelligence system, it is utopia. Before I get ahead of myself, environment-based learning can be done today with iBeacon, NFC, and similar technologies.
- Community-based: Yeah, social is here to stay. The social behaviors will not only be a source for data mining and better understanding of learner intent, they will also help learners/students to learn from each other, motivate each other, challenge each other, and as a group grow with each other.
- Behavior-shaping: Current learning dumps information either in an event or in a series of events. It cannot think about who you are, what you may do, and how may respond – so it just about gives you everything you will need. However, Smart Learning/Education will be much different. By virtual of being learner aware, understanding the environment within which you operate, as well as a deeper understanding of how your community responds to similar challenge, sends you nuggets via multiple channels, until your learning habit – shapes your behavior. That is a mouthful isn’t it but you get the idea.
Now the questions are:
- Is it really about Smart Learning or Smart Education?
- Are we really ready? What do we need from a people, process, product, and infrastructure perspective?
Please let me know your thoughts via the comments below.
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