Learning Ecosystem: Past, Present, And Future
When we talk of an ecosystem, the first thought that comes to our minds is a biological ecosystem comprising of various species that live in harmony within a particular environmental setup or region.
The elements in an ecosystem interact directly or indirectly with one another and influence one another. In a broader sense, an ecosystem means any group of elements that form an interactive set that influence one another. A good example of an ecosystem is Apple’s ecosystem of iOS, Mac OS, iPhone, iPad, Mac Books, and the plethora of apps. Similarly, a university can be considered as an ecosystem that comprises students, teachers, administrators, other staff, books, libraries, sports clubs, and so on.
What Does A Learning Ecosystem Mean?
In simple terms, a learning ecosystem of an organization comprises its people, technology used for learning, the content used for learning, the prevailing culture, and the strategy that exists in the organization. All the elements of a learning ecosystem directly or indirectly impact the learning that happens in that organization.
Similar to a biological ecosystem that has many interacting species living in an environment, a learning ecosystem also includes people in an organization corresponding to living species, pieces of content, the technology used to create and deliver the content corresponding to natural resources, and of course the learning culture that is analogous to the environment.
The similarity does not end here, a living ecosystem can be healthy or deteriorating, self-sustaining, or needing support, and so does a learning ecosystem. What it means is that an organization must have a good understanding of its learning ecosystem so as not to let it deteriorate.
In the past, the learning ecosystem was very simple, comprising of learners, educators, and the content. With the advancement of learning technology and globalization, at present, the learning ecosystem is fairly complex with numerous options for content, delivery mechanism, and of course, the introduction of informal learning, such as social learning, microlearning, etc.
Today’s L&D leaders need to be aware of the complex interaction of the human mind with content and technology that can bear a huge impact on an organization's learning behavior. A major paradigm shift has already happened from past to present in the learning ecosystem with the introduction of eLearning. Learning has evolved from being teacher-centric to content-centric and is evolving to become learner-centric.
Let’s take a look at the future of the learning ecosystem, which is going to be based on present trends:
Focus on competency
In the corporate world, what matters more than knowledge is the competency of the workforce. Thus, the major focus of learning is shifting from theoretical knowledge to practical job competency.
Every individual has their distinct learning path and capabilities. Personalization of content has slowly been a trend; however, it needs to be much more focused. In the coming future, we are going to experience a whole lot more personalization of learning content with a tailored curriculum.
With Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning evolving at a "never-before" rate, content curation is shifting from manual to automated. Learning Management Systems are becoming more and more intelligent and responsive to learners’ interacting.
AR and VR
With Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality becoming more accessible, educational content is going to shift toward AR and VR to maximize personalization.
Wearable technologies are surely going to play a big role in Learning Experience Design. Wearable technologies can be utilized to understand user behavior and customize the learning experience accordingly.
Humans are social, so learning has to be social also. Already there is a significant shift toward social learning, and the future will have more.
There are always highly motivated and potential learners who wish to go beyond the regular curriculum. They can explore self-directed learning, and modern Learning Management Systems have the beginnings of self-directed learning.
The learning ecosystem is, no doubt, evolving at a significant rate. Learning is no longer a standalone learner-teacher-content interaction, but much more. It has now become an enriched complex mechanism that has the potential to truly maximize the learning outcome—provided it is being nurtured and guided properly. A word of caution must be said here, an ill-nurtured learning ecosystem might equally be detrimental for the organization in shaping the capabilities of its future workforce.
The eLearning industry is surely going to play a big role in shaping the learning ecosystem and making it more fruitful, both for individuals and corporations.