Digital technologies have redefined the learning experience, causing a radical shift not just in how we deliver information, but how we process and apply it as well. As eLearning tools and innovations become increasingly mobile, agile, accessible and intelligent, they are reshaping how we both think about and approach education.
The influx of digital devices have made it so we are constantly connected and, therefore, consistently hit with massive amounts of content, information and distraction at all times. Studies have shown that the average human attention span is only about eight seconds - less than a goldfish - which can help explain the rise of microlearning. But the effects of digital learning technologies extend beyond our increased preference - and access - to new content delivery formats. As machines continue to grow more sophisticated and intelligent, it is changing how, when, where and why we learn.
Continuous, lifelong learning
Only a few years ago the bulk of a company's training programs would be based in a formal setting, usually using the same content and delivery to reach all employees at once. Now, corporate learning and development is fueled by e-learning tools and technologies, enabling more specialized and informal environments for education.
"The ever-evolving world of technology gives rise to lifelong learning."
Because technology is constantly evolving, businesses must stay on top of the latest and emerging trends, pushing employees to continuously learn new skills, processes and information. Organizations staying up-to-date and informed is necessary for adapting to rapidly changing environments. Those who fail to develop a responsive, forward-thinking mindset put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. And while the ever-evolving technological advancements make it increasingly important for us to adopt a lifelong approach to learning, they also make it easier to do so - almost impossible not to, even.
According to Training Mag, the biggest learning and development priority organizations have for the next year is the discovery of new technologies – more so, even, than developing a learning strategy. Furthermore, the source revealed that advanced learning technology is expected to incorporate more informal and experiential features.
On-the-go and on-demand
The ability to learn new information is always, quite literally, right at our fingertips. One of the most appealing aspects of digital learning technology is how convenient it makes the education experience. Between Mobile Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, digital publishing, remote communications software and the Internet of Things in general, people can complete training and learn new material from any place in the world, from virtually any device. We are able to get the information we need, when we need to know it - often for free.
Furthermore, as Education Dive recently pointed out, digital learning technologies are being designed in a way that will end up replacing theory-based models with scenario-based ones that center on practical instruction. Smart content technologies allow a more interactive, hands-on education experience that is, ultimately, more engaging and effective than traditional methods. Microlearning, gamification, video and other eLearning techniques allow people to process information in bite-sized amounts, making it more likely they will retain and remember the material in the long term.
Self-directed and personalized
Interactive content incorporates a variety of multimedia features that help put the user in the control seat to learn information via the format that works best for him or her - whether that be video, audio or game-like simulations. Much different than conventional instructor-led environments, self-directed and -paced learning applications allow people to take charge of their own education experience and customize it for maximum benefit.
Another transformative effect technology is having on the world of learning is the vast amounts of data being generated. The more of this information that is gathered, the better equipped organizations are to gain pertinent and valuable insight that allows them to take a more customized and personal approach to learning application development and delivery.
The future of learning
Because our machines are becoming more intelligent, learning is starting to be less about knowing what the right answers are and more about knowing which questions to ask - and where to ask them. Furthermore, as neuroscientists make new discoveries about how we learn, and our technologies become more mature, the educational experience will continue to evolve, providing us with increasing opportunities to create more effective learning strategies.