Last week, while doing some Google ‘research’ I accidentally stumbled upon a fabulous TED talk by a delightful educator – Sugata Mitra. To those to whom this name is not familiar, Mitra was the guy who put computer screens with an internet connection in a wall in New Delhi and proved that children could not only learn how to use a computer but learn from it, without any outside help or intervention. He is currently conducting experiments in group learning that are radically different to the traditional learning methods used in schools.
The way education is organised today is a throwback to the start of the industrial revolution.
Industry needed workers who came in on time and applied themselves. These workers had rudimentary writing and arithmetic skills. Alvin Tofler in his excellent book The Third Wave in his chapter The Covert Curriculum, documents how the introduction of organised education was a key factor in converting agrarian peasants into regimented workers and ensured the success of the Industrial Revolution.
This system of schooling that was introduced about three hundred years ago is still essentially in existence today. Yes, computers are used extensively in education today, but they are being added into a framework that has existed for three centuries! Mitra’s point is – if we were organizing education today, knowing the immense versatility of computers, it would be a very very different system than that in place today. For example, we would not make children cram lots of information into their heads that is readily available on the internet – would we?
Proving this point, a 2015 worldwide education study carried out by the OECD headlines: “New approach needed to deliver on technology’s potential in schools. “Students, Computers and Learning: Making The Connection,” says that even countries which have invested heavily in information and communication technologies (ICT) for education have seen no noticeable improvement in their performances in PISA results for reading, mathematics or science”.
While watching the Mitra video clip, I was reminded of an article I had read recently regarding LMS and eLearning and suddenly the article became crystal clear to me. It is an article by Adam Weisblatt and the content of the article is uncannily like the scenario that is painted in the education sphere.
According to the article, LMSs were developed and designed originally to log activities and report on schools and colleges throughout the land. It used to be a cumbersome piece of equipment, took a lot of effort to set up, and required continual work to keep it up to date so that reporting would be precise. It is designed to record on a hierarchical structure rather than simply record events, and as it is built for a range of scenarios – it has to fit the needs of all users and therefore most often is unable to fit the needs of individual learners.
eLearning is a very simple way of satisfying on-demand learning, and is also versatile and relatively easy to tweak for any particular end user. The mistake is being made (just like in education) of trying to fit eLearning into the LMS framework which means that the drawbacks of LMS (cumbersome, overcomplicated) are being associated with eLearning itself.
But as Weisblatt himself puts it: “The latest successor to SCORM, called xAPI (the API formerly known as Tin Can) begins to address some of these problems. It tracks transactions rather than hierarchies and it doesn’t require that you discover learning through the LMS so it can capture data more freely but this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
But is this just simply tinkering with the problem – as Weisblatt suggests, we really need to fully engage in de-constructing the LMS model and starting from scratch.
24×7 Learning has done just that. Since 2001, the company has been providing online learning solutions to global corporates through its LMS. Over the years the company tweaked the LMS as and when required to meet the ever-changing training needs of corporates. However, last year was different. The technical team rebuilt the LMS from scratch taking into account the changing L&D scenario, new developments in technology, and the needs of the learners themselves. This new LMS was christened as LearnTrak LMS. LearnTrak has been successfully used globally by clients across industries and job roles and has helped employees take up organizational training with great earnestness – and increased the completion rate of courses. It also boasts of several must-have features such as multiple language support, an offline course player, digital library, a quick launch page, blended learning and a very simple and easy user interface.
Last week, while doing some Google 'research' I accidentally stumbled upon a fabulous TED talk by a deligh...