How Technology Is Powering Learning

How Technology Is Powering Learning

Anshula Dhingra January 27, 2021
The long-established distinction between education and e-learning is blurring. Digitization is making a significant contribution to the fabric of our societies. It is now a reality of our day-to-day lives. Be it shopping, socializing, gaming, entertainment, work from home, online and virtual schools, and even daily yoga classes, digitization has become a part of our existence.  When applied to education, technology can bring fundamental transformation to the ways we learn. While the critical drivers of education stay unchanged, this transformation supports a simple replication of traditional classroom pedagogies. Classrooms have moved online, books have become eBooks, videos, and web-based learning, classroom activities leverage gaming, labs are now simulations, and the syllabus has moved over to the LMS. Class discussions are now discussion forums, and the good old exams are now powered by machines.  Technology itself is not a pedagogical framework, and the learning intent has not changed. However, tech intervention powers learning possibilities that were otherwise restricted due to time, space, and feasibility.  Let us walk over these possibilities and their impact on learning: 
  • Metacognitive Paradigm of Learning: Most students in traditional learning environments were learning at the lowest Bloom’s taxonomy levels. They would remember, reproduce concepts, facts, and fundamentals as proof of learning success. There was a heavy emphasis on memory and rote learning. Today, where most basic information, including math calculations, unit conversions, locations, and maps, are available at the click of a button, memory alone is no longer the only essential facet of education. The digital age helps move away from primary memory-based pedagogies and paves the way for higher-order thinking and metacognitive paradigms. The flipped classroom, discussion forums, peer-reviewed assignments, and adaptive learning are few such cognitive approaches that make a sincere attempt at leveraging technology to deliver and facilitate learning with its most real intent to encourage higher-order thinking.
  • Ever-present Information: Learning opportunities are ubiquitous, both formal and informal. Speaking of informal learning, websites, social media, digital books, audiobooks, podcasts, and even games, combine traditional sources of information and present it in a digital format. While the effectiveness of this hyper information is a matter of debate, it throws light on one crucial aspect of learning.  While the school is at the center of education, societal influence is the outer shell. What it means for education-makers is to:
  1. Be mindful of the social attributes influencing their learner’s social-emotional needs, aspirations, and both positive and negative influences. 
  2. Encourage reading, research, and exploration, and building in constructivism, where learners focus on self-learning.
  3. Replicate social media formats onto school LMS, and encourage learners to express, share, reflect, counter, and build an ecosystem of knowledge-making over mere knowledge acquiring. 
The concept of constructing knowledge rather than merely reproducing it is the revival of the Socratic method of dialogical over didactic modes of learning.
  • Machine Enabled Human Centeredness:Human centricity has always been at the heart of everything related to education. The digital age makes no difference. Instead, adaptive, personalized, and inclusive instruction has become even more feasible than they were in a classroom full of students and one teacher. Social-Emotional Learning is no longer just a well-meaning initiative. It is a regulated mechanism of data capturing, analyses, and custom tailoring of learning solutions, just as Learning Analytics is becoming increasingly crucial to evaluate student engagement, traction, and learning output. Weaving in accessibility features makes content available and universal to all users. Adaptive learning technology uses algorithms to assess a learner’s confidence, progress, and skill to develop a personalized learning path and provides focused remediation to learning gaps. Learning data is increasingly becoming essential to make decision-making easier.
  • Collaborative Intelligence in Formative Assessments: Online assessments and discussion boards make formative assessments possible with their most authentic intent. Recursive reactions from peers, constructive feedback from instructors and teachers, and an ability to review your peers’ work and self-assess allow social and not just individual intelligence to thrive. Collaborative intelligence allows building multiple perspectives and opinions and an ecosystem of collaboration by design. 
eLearning will no longer be another aspect of education and learning at large. It will be the primary force to help education and L&D gain stronger momentum in this world where skill and relevance are the core attributes to personal and professional success.

Anshula Dhingra

Anshula is a learning design professional with over 17 years of dedicated learning architecture and consulting experience in L&D and Education.