Learning is the Foundation for Society:
The world is facing an array of urgent challenges ranging from global warming and pandemics to the radicalization of politics and economic disruption due to the spread of automation and artificial intelligence. Well-educated citizens are better able to adapt to the rapid changes happening in our technology-driven world. They are more likely to be influenced by science in responding to climate change or a health crisis. And, they are less vulnerable to becoming radicalized when they are equipped with skills that provide economic security in a society where they feel like they fit.
Learning Brings Communities Together:
Learning is non-partisan. Everyone in society regardless of all other differences agrees on the importance of learning. Learners are impacted by the actions of their Instructors, Leadership, Curriculum designers, and Guardians. For a systemic change, all stakeholders need to coordinate their support and accelerate outcomes. This builds capacity in communities to work together and make systemic changes.
Learning is Essential to our Existence:
Continued learning nourishes our minds. Lifelong learning is indispensable to understand communities, celebrate differences, and keep our careers relevant in a rapidly changing world. Every institution has to be a learning institution to effectively cope with rapid changes. Many incidents in our society that show extreme bias draw our attention to equity and ethics. As we confront the prospect of economic disruption, falling democracies, and rising oceans around the world, we can tackle these with the full strength of humankind that is continuously learning.
The Power of Digitization:
Digital Learning is not just about watching videos and answering multiple-choice questions, but digital data from a full spectrum of learning activities. We now have the tools to capture and process digital data to assure learning outcomes. Smartphones connect communities and provide a gateway to a host of resources. These can capture data from all learning activities – physical and digital. Digital technologies are making engaging learning activities such as videos, games, simulation, and AR/VR experiences commonplace. We can harness the power of big data to measure learning in real-time and personalize lifelong learning. By pixelating the learning space as a progression of competencies and capturing data after every learning activity, we can process this data using AI techniques to understand every learner, curate every learning activity, and mediate learning pathways.
Advances in Science of Learning:
Transdisciplinary researchers working on why and how people learn have developed the science necessary to personalize learning. This includes understanding the importance of addressing learners’ characteristics such as grit, motivation, self-confidence, and anxiety, or proficiency in various cognitive skills. Invivo experiments promoted by leading universities are in vogue. This enables researchers to access consented anonymized data from millions of diverse learners. Researchers can now validate the efficacy of their innovation in tackling complex learning environments.
Locate the Learner:
Whether we are engaged in early childhood education, K12 or higher education, training healthcare workers, or upskilling a workforce, educational institutions today generally focus on the learner’s destination – that is, on what the learners’ are expected to know at the end of a course or a program, and on grading their performance through periodic testing. They lack an understanding of the learners’ current knowledge, mindsets, and community engagement – that I refer to as locate the learner – for every competency. This also fosters equity. Understanding a learner makes it possible to personalize pathways based on their strengths and interests.