Loop Design


atomic learning

There are lots of ‘trends’ in online learning — type that phrase into a search engine and it’s like buzz word bingo — LMS, LRS, AR, Mobile Data, Big Data, Social learning, VR, Personalisation, Micro/Macro Learning, Content platforms, MOOCs, Gamification etc…

However, I believe you can broadly group them into 2 groups; Personalisation and what I call Atomic Learning — the atomization of learning.

Before we get to those though, I think it’s worth reflecting on the fact that a lot of the trends above are very familiar and have been around for a while. I remember seeing the ‘breakthrough’ of gamification in online learning more years ago than I care to remember, and I’d suggest it’s still not as commonplace as we’d like.

However, I sense a change of pace — brought about by connectivity and familiarity with digital consumption. Generally, in the developed world we’re highly connected and consuming more information than ever before. We’re demanding feedback from our devices to tell us how much exercise we’ve performed, calories we’ve burnt, money we’ve spent and I think there’s a desire to understand what we’re learning. My twitter feed is full of retweets that show me what others have read — a demonstration of knowledge and an advocation of perpetual learning.

The unseen connected nature of this information across devices and platforms is also what we’ve come to expect, and I’m seeing a trend in these concepts coming into online learning.

45 minute flash based courses (possibly delivered on a CD!) with a pass or fail mark have largely gone, or are on their way out, and bite sized, relevant learning delivered to me where I want it, when I want it is where we now operate.

And the pace of change is picking up.

I’ll cover these areas in more detail in later posts, but broadly speaking I think personalization covers the following areas:

  • Social
  • Mobile
  • Language
  • Tools
  • Data & Reporting

What I call Atomic Learning is the atomization of both content and delivery — fragmenting components — with short form content and small, nimble, connected digital services being more prevalent.

As far as platform personalisation is concerned there are some key elements to consider, many of which mean interrogating the data about your content and your users, and crucially having a common taxonomy to make sure you can successfully match the two:

Giving quick access to discovered content — things they may know about
Using smart algorithms to suggest new content — both from your profile and those like you — pulling in recommendations for example but also using underlying data
Identify potential low points in a user’s activity and sending timely nudge emails
Not being able to find content is often cited as an issue by LMS users and ensuring you can suggest relevant content to them, and then give them a path onwards is important in ensuring engagement

Phil Clarke