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What is the future of learning? How technology will affect the future of education and work.

by Tessa Holland, Nov 18, 2019

The way we learn and educate is evolving. As time progresses and technology advances, it is becoming inherently clear that the lecture-style approach to education is becoming less effective.

Lectures and textbooks have lost their merit.

Have you ever found yourself describing a book to someone, only to be stumped when probed by deeper questions? Typically, most people only absorb surface level information when reading text. You register basic facts, but you'll likely struggle to remember the reasoning that led to them. Your cognitive intake is about the same in a lecture theater.

When reading books or taking lectures, you are not actively engaged with content. When information is presented through these mediums, quite a lot of information is shared. Unfortunately, you don't have adequate time to comprehend and absorb all of it. Some lucky people are able to process what they are hear as they go, but the cognitive load on the brain is still exhaustive, and it is very difficult to maintain this level of focus for the full length of a lecture.

If lecture and textbook methods don't work, why are we still using them?

If it was as simple as making sure students properly understood what they were learning, textbooks would be our prevalent method of learning. The step-by-step instructions, guided examples, and question prompts are designed to ensure students comprehend what they learn.

Lectures on the other hand, provide students with important structure and social interaction. Moving to a classroom environment creates structure and discipline, holding students accountable. The social aspect facilitates a more positive learning environment, with peer competition also acting as a motivator. It is a rare individual who has the willpower and focus to do self-guided learning through pure textbook study.

Lectures and textbooks in combination have been the traditional method of learning for decades, simply because they allegedly balance each other out for a complete educational experience.

Workshops enable practical education in more intimate settings.

When it became clear that lectures and textbooks alone weren't enough for adequate teaching, workshops were introduced to the education space. Workshops are intensive periods of training where students are immersed in topics and encouraged to actively engage. Workshops are sociable, structured, and give students time to process information they learn, seemingly sewing the lose educational threads that lectures and textbooks may have let slip. In order for workshops to be effective however, the number of students who can attend a session must be limited, or else the quality of learning opportunities decreases.

In a professional environment, workshops may be seen as problematic, as they remove learners from day-to-day work, which has the potential to cause a temporary decline in productivity.

At Codebots, we run workshops based on our Academy qualifications, to augment the learning experience for those who are not comfortable learning online. While participants are removed from their working environment, we believe that their time investment will inevitably increase productivity, equipping participants with tools that allow them to produce better quality work faster.

Lecture, textbook, workshop...we're still not getting it. So, what is the future of learning?

There are limitations with all three traditional methods of education. When considering the future of learning, and the future of education, we must consider how we can combine the structured and social aspects of a classroom, with the easy-to-understand guided characteristics of a textbook, whilst teaching large numbers of students. New technology aims to do this, driving innovation through a focus on continuous learning.

Online learning platforms have emerged in force. Taking education to a digital space allows us to continuously modernise our training techniques and materials, engaging students more effectively whilst still maintaining the structured and social aspects of a classroom or workshop.

Digital education is the future of learning.

There are a range of positive attributes associated with digital education.

Self-guided education.

Students can take control of their learning pathways. Having control, whilst still operating within the boundaries of a course, encourages students to engage and drive their own learning forward. Courses and individual lessons within are presented in an ideal order, but students have the option to prioritise as they desire.

Assessment and feedback.

There are a plethora of technologies that accelerate the marking and feedback process. In traditional educational environments, there can be a large delay between assessment submission, marking and feedback. By the time a student receives feedback for project work, they likely have already begun the next piece of work, but without the feedback required to improve. Digital platforms expedite the marking processes, activating a loop of continuous learning and improvement.

Continuous learning.

There are a variety of resources and platforms available in the digital learning space, with learners able to utilise the resources at their convenience. This is particularly advantageous to time poor professionals looking to upskill in their career. Content is broken into small increments, focusing on comprehension and understanding. Learners are empowered to move to a future-focused, continuous learning state. This allows individuals to ensure their industry knowledge stays relevant, boosting intellectual stimulation with the continuous introduction of new concepts and challenges to maintain career satisfaction and competitiveness.

Recognition of prior learning.

Online education platforms allow users to tailor courses based on prior knowledge. Students can generally skip sections they are already familiar with so they can save time and focus on understanding new concepts and ideas.

Learning platforms, like the Codebots Academy, mark completed lessons as "done", and promote more advanced lessons in the same fields to users, encouraging continuous, progressive learning.

Group engagement.

The social aspect of education is one of the more difficult conditions to integrate into a digital learning environment. Social and group interactions act as important motivators for students, solidifying comprehension by enabling engagement with a variety of perspectives. Isolation is a common deterrent for online learners, and socialisation alleviates this barrier. When socialisation is included in digital learning platforms, learning becomes community-driven, with the platform acting simply as a facilitator of education. This situation encourages autonomy and creativity, empowering individuals to find solutions to problems, rather than being presented with answers they won’t necessarily be invested in. Socialisation in education can be facilitated through forums, comments, question boards or peer-to-peer marking.

How will the future of learning through digital education affect classrooms and workshops?

There is a perception that the ease, availability, and breadth of knowledge online will make classroom and workshop learning obsolete. It is important to remember that there are a large variety of learning styles, and digital learning is simply providing a new option. At Codebots, our vision is a future where humans and bots work together to create better outcomes. We see the digital education space as a tool to empower students, alongside traditional learning methods. The power and importance of human interaction cannot be overstated.

Continuous learning with the Codebots Academy.

The digital learning hub on the Codebots Platform is our Academy. The lessons in our Academy aid our workshops, allowing users to check back at any time, and stay up-to-date with new discoveries. In the modern learning space, we are faced with an endless stream of information, and the digital space of our Academy allows users to refresh knowledge when and if they need it, which is a key disadvantage of face-to-face real time learning.

We can't predict how learning will change in 50 years, or how it will shape the future of work, but we can guarantee it will continue to evolve to suit the variety of learning styles, making education easier and more exciting for everyone. Future education may see virtual reality (VR) simulating a real-time classroom experience in the convenience of a digital space. We may not be able to accurately predict how future technology will shape learning, or identify all the future jobs new technology will create, but it is certainly fun to speculate and imagine. One thing I feel is certain though; the future of learning will be ever-evolving and continuously modernising.