“Learning” by itself is a more personal endeavor towards gaining the required knowledge. Traditionally, different societies in different parts of the globe approached education (a.k.a) learning, based on the demands of the land. In Asia, since many countries were part of the British regime, learning was more oriented towards getting the basic education that could get one a job in a government department. The aspirations of most people revolved around this basic need and involuntarily forced them to pursue education that would get them a job in the government. Teaching methods were mostly didactic and the teacher-student relationship placed higher emphasis on the teacher than the student.
Over the past 50 years things have changed pretty rapidly. The learning process has become more collaborative and learner-centric in nature and the teacher-student hierarchy has been replaced by a more friendly, more comfortable relationship. Gone are the days when learners simply absorbed resources that the teacher gave them one-sidedly. The attitude now is to verify facts, think, observe and reach conclusions after discussions. People have become more adventurous and now follow the global trends to keep themselves abreast of the changes not just around them, but in the world at large. This has made the learning solutions industry one of the most interesting places to be in. The learning methodologies have evolved from getting trained in classrooms, to more interesting approaches such as eLearning and more recently, learning using the mobile phones.
Learning has become more “personal” and as a learning solutions provider, one has to be aware of this critical requirement. Information gathering has become cross-platform, and the realm of education is no exception. The term personal learning environment (PLE) describes the tools, communities, and services that constitute the individual educational platforms learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals. A PLE is to learning what social networking is to entertainment. For example, a learner might read a piece of news in his/her twitterstream and share its link on a social learning network like Origin Konnect. Now the information shared on the social learning platform could initiate discussions from fellow members in the form of comments, blogs and video links. The idea is to make the social learning platform the focal point where all learning resources of an individual converge- not just the online resources, but the offline ones too. People use reading materials like books, magazines, journals and newspapers to augment their knowledge, and therefore they too constitute the learning environment of a person. Practically speaking, a PLE is more comprehensive than a network- it’s an environment with a more complicated interplay of technologies like social learning, eLearning, mobile learning and cloud computing to uncomplicate the process of learning by making it seamless. The importance of relationships cannot be undermined in a personal learning environment, because it is them which makes it seamless- blurring the lines between formal and informal learning. Learners rely on each others’ learning outcomes, experiences and opinions to use them as tools for further discovery and augment their own learning experiences. They don’t require long sermons on how certain things have to be done; mostly what they are looking for is “just-in-time” learning. This means that the “Learning” medicine must be given to them in small dosages. The catch here is to not dilute the learning experience but to support the learner during all the phases of learning. There isn’t a single formula to crack the quest for a successful learning solution. This requires active participation of learners with the learning solution providers. Discussions on how learners spend a typical day in their organization would go a long way in coming up with learning solutions that would complement the organizational lifestyle. In many instances, the success of a learning solution would largely depend on the comfort level of the learners with the solution provided to them, because such a solution would elicit greater participation and involvement. Active prototypes would help see what approach works best for an organization. An agile approach is the need of the hour to gain competitive edge in this fast-paced world.