Learning is not revolutionary, it’s evolutionary

Jodi Kassel Submitted by on the 10th of October 2014

Learning is not revolutionary, it’s evolutionary. We’ve been learning since the first tadpole-swamp-thing figured out how to breathe air, sprout fingers and then type on a keyboard. Online learning is also evolving and gaining momentum as internet connections become faster, cheaper and more widespread, and as more people connect their lives and devices.

The pervasiveness of access and the assimilation of connectedness into our lives means that we’re getting closer to being one with the internet. This means that we have direct access to any online material and the potential to speak to, work with and learn from nearly anyone in the world.

Access alone isn’t enough. In order to learn many things, we still require interaction of some form to aid education. We have been seeing an integration of both the traditional and online learning realms in what is termed ‘blended learning’. However, as we develop technology further and more devices find their way into the hands of younger people, I see online learning not only becoming more prevalent but much more useful.

As our usage and understanding of digital connectedness evolves, and as access increases across devices, we will see an evolution in online learning:

–       The internet, in an unstructured manner, is an incredible tool for indirect learning – you are learning just by doing. Give someone a device and an internet connection and they’ll be fine. However, this does have shortfalls and direct education is still needed to add direction and clarification.

–       As the barriers to internet access tumble, more people will flood online and quickly attain a base level of online knowledge. The gap between those who know and don’t know will narrow, placing a higher demand on structured online learning to differentiate.

–       It is no longer enough to just know; you must understand in order to succeed. The requirement for digital literacy will change to that of digital comprehension as a greater emphasis is placed on having a deeper, more comprehensive understanding.

–       The internet is driven by discovery and a desire to search for and acquire information and knowledge. The relevance and quality of the information at the end of those searches will increase and create a better opportunity for structured, deliberate online education.

–       The old “don’t speak in class” has become “why aren’t you speaking and collaborating?” Group learning, collaboration and informal, causal structuring of learning groups will become key to the success of online learning.

–       The ‘globalness’ of the Internet means that simply by logging on we are being exposed to much bigger and broader conversations and learning opportunities. Learning horizons are broadening and the opportunities for online learning are truly global.

In an age of collaboration and mobility it is my opinion that if you don’t embrace this trend you will get left behind. We are in the early days of online learning. The possibilities are limitless.