The past few years have seen a shift from classroom-based, face-to-face learning to virtual learning, where individuals attend e-courses and online classes, learning in their own time to fit around their schedules.
Today, yet another shift is taking place: from virtual to digital learning. And there’s a good reason for this; the latest digital technologies have a strong impact on our behaviour. They affect how we consume services, how we interact with each other, and how we relate to the world in general. Just as we are accessing information in new ways, so we also want new ways to learn. In today’s world, we want better, more relevant methods to acquire skills and expertise.
Here’s what we believe the difference between virtual learning and digital learning to be:
We need to think about what all this means not just for the learner, but also for the learning professional and for the business. For example, the digital learner wants a tailor-made interactive experience that’s personalized to them as a unique individual. The emphasis is on engaging, impactful content with social and community-based interactions. In short, today’s learners are looking for learning that is:
- Accessible anytime, anywhere
- Just-in-time and in context
- User-centric, by tailoring their own learning experience and journey
- An end-to-end experience, including formal and informal learning interactions
- Inspiring by tapping into external content, the most up to date internal thinking, and user-generated inputs
- More engaging through meaningful interactions in virtual learning
- More social, by fostering interaction, networks and communities of experts to enable expertise to be shared and strengthened.
Without any doubt, the most popular site that people within my organization go to for learning is YouTube. It’s really easy for individuals to adopt digital learning as there are so many options available on the open market. By contrast, it’s much harder for corporations to put digital learning in place as there are a whole raft of issues to consider from IT security and network bandwidth, to the new skills needed within the learning team, and the requirement to measure people’s competencies.
As learning professionals, our challenge in the Digital Age is that our employees expect us to provide them with a personalized end-to-end learning experience that combines formal, non-formal and informal learning methods, together with tools to develop their set of professional and personal skills. They also expect us to support social learning linked with communities of professionals among whom they can share best practices and experiences through virtual or physical networks.
In my company we are addressing these demands by making significant investment into Digital Age Learning. This includes initiatives such as micro-sized expert video learning and mobile access to materials via apps, as well as the introduction of MOOCs, COOCs and Hackathons and an informal, social approach to learning.
What are the challenges you see for your organization with the move from your current state to Digital Age Learning?