Thursday, August 02, 2012

Learning Architecture and Pedagogies



The Open University published recently a report on Innovating Pedagogy. In the report they reference ten innovations which they believe will have a profound influence on education. The report is an interesting read in the context of corporate learning and development.

There has been a lot of discussion about new learning architectures and pedagogies. I am great fan of Clive Shepherd's model in his book The New Learning Architect, which you can buy for your iPad on Amazon. This architectural model is useful because it covers a wide range of learning approaches. Too often people refer to learning architecture as the way a programme is blended with classroom, e-learning, virtual classrooms etc. The core of the model sets out four types of learning as follows:

Formal Learning
Typically a course with structured content
This can be a blend such as classroom, elearning, webinar and assessment
Informal Learning
Informal learning can range widely from coaching, use of resources, peer learning etc.
Learning on Demand
The delivery of just in time performance support
Just in time, task related

Experiential Learning
Learning on the job as we do things including job rotation, placements, projects and reflection.

I believe the OU report reflects some of the changes already taking place in corporate learning. Their ten innovations are already being reflected in the architectures being developed by corporates. I have been lucky to be undertaking some research in this area with E-Learning Age, to be published later in the year. Through this research I see a number of shifts in learning architectures as highlighted below.  I hasten to add these are just my views and I am still to meet up with my fellow researchers to analyse all of the findings but the OU report prompted some thinking on my part.

Formal Learning
Increasingly blended, less face to face
Still heavily used in compliance areas
More fine grained for specific roles
E-learning shorter, richer, higher quality experiences
Informal Learning
Increased focus on role of informal learning
L&D playing a role as content curators
Disaggregation of resources
More mature user guided short courses as identified by OU
User generated content
More coaching/mentoring
Greater social learning, personal networks as seen by OU
More use of mobile in delivery of informal learning
Overall what the OU calls Rhizomatic learning or organic growth/shaping through interconnections
Learning on Demand
Greater focus on importance of performance support
Mobile great for on just in time, task related learning
Growth in design methods such as checklists, short how to videos, etc
Professional support communities
Experiential Learning
Focus on workplace experiences including delegation, projects, job rotation and placements.
Learner reflection and personal inquiry as highlighted by OU
Portfolio building
Assessment and Evaluation
The greater use or recognition of the role of informal learning has meant another look at the role of assessment. Partly it is about how we know informal learning is effective but there is also growing recognition that learning as identified by the OU is part of the learning process. Continual feedback as shown through games, can really help learners to develop. Thus assessment is playing a greater role across the whole learning architecture.
Learning Portals and Journeys
The OU report talks about creating seamless journey across both formal and informal learning. This is already happening as learning portals are developed, as content is increasingly accessed through web style interfaces and on multiple devices with responsive html designs. 



I would be keen to get feedback and views on what others are seeing. At a micro level it looks like just small changes eg more disaggregation of resources or more performance support on mobile devices but at a macro level maybe we are seeing a significant shift in the overall learning architecture.