Learning Communities Features
A 21st Century Learning Community optimally exploits “electronic tools” (tools like the Internet and the Cloud) to improve the ability to learn the skills we need to thrive.
Table of Contents on This Page
- Key Features of a Learning Community
What’s Actionable on this Page
- Understand the key foundational activities of a Learning Community: Focusing, Filtering, Dynamic Course Updates, & Defined Learning Communication Codes.
- Begin to see how you can apply the Learning Community approach to your life, the lives of your family, friends, and/or co-workers.
A Learning Community uses an Open Source Algorithm to assign meta-tags to information so it can be more easily filtered and focused to help maximize each of our unique learning opportunities.
Personalized Learning Plans
Personal learning plans (or PLP) are one of the absolutely necessary foundational elements of a thriving Learning Community.
PLPs are critical to the Learning Community because the PLPs drive the “Filtering” and “Focusing” process. By knowing the goals of the receiver, information can be valued based on the likelihood it will promote achievement of those goals. And the PLPs need to be as long term as possible. Their is no reason way everyone cannot have a PLP for their life long educational journey.
How Are Personal Learning Plans Created
Typically personal learning plans are developed in collaboration with teachers, counselors, employers, and family —as a way to help achieve short- and long-term learning goals.
Personal learning plans are based on the belief that learners will be more motivated to learn, will achieve more, and will feel a stronger sense of ownership over their education if they decide what they want to learn, how they are going to learn it, and why they need learn it to achieve their personal goals.
While personal learning plans may take a wide variety of forms, they tend to share many common features. For example, when developing their plans, learners may be asked to do any or all of the following:
- Think about and describe their personal life aspirations, particularly their collegiate and career goals.
- Self-assess their individual learning strengths and weaknesses, or reflect on what they have academically achieved, excelled at, or struggled with in the past.
- Identify specificlearning gaps or skill deficiencies that should be addressed in their education, or specific knowledge, skills, and character traits they would like to acquire.
- List or describe their personal interests, passions, pursuits, and hobbies, and identify ways to integrate those interests into their education.
- Chart a personal educational program that will allow them to achieve their educational and aspirational goals while also fulfilling school requirements, such as particularlearning standards or credit and course requirements for graduation.
- Document major learning accomplishments or milestones.
Purpose of Personal Learning Plans
The general goal of a personal learning plan is to bring greater coherence, focus, and purpose to the decisions learners make about their education.
For this reason, plans may also include learning experiences that occur outside of work or school: such as internships, volunteer opportunities, and summer programs students want to pursue or books they would like to read. For a related discussion, see learning pathway.
Start with Standard Templates
To help our community members develop personal learning plans, the community provides a number of Personal Learning Plan templates that help the learner map out the most appropriate learning plan.
Learning Plans are in Constant state of Review and Modification
Personal learning plans are continually revisited and modified to reflect changes in learning needs, interests, and aspirations.
Suggestions for Traditional School’s Adoption of Personal Learning Plans
Personal learning plans should accompany a wide variety of school-reform strategies and philosophies, including differentiation, personalized learning, relevance, student-centered learning, and voice, among others (to more fully understand the rationale motivating the use of personal learning plans as a reform strategy, we recommend reading these entries). In many cases, the completion, monitoring, and modification of personal learning plans takes place in advisories—regularly scheduled periods of time during which teachers meet with small groups of students for the purpose of advising them on academic, social, and future-planning issues.
Schools may use personal learning plans to achieve a wide variety of educational goals, including the following representative examples:
- They want students to take greater responsibility for their education, be more thoughtful and goal oriented about the educational choices they make, and use their time in school more purposefully.
- They want teachers to have a better understanding of the interests, learning needs, and aspirations of their students so they can use that information to teach andsupport them more effectively.
- They want students to challenge themselves and consider learning opportunities they may not have considered otherwise.
- They want parents to be more engaged in planning their child’s education and more informed about their child’s interests, learning needs, and aspirations.
- They want students to have a clear direction in their education so that they meet expected learning standards and graduate prepared for higher education and careers.
I understand that skepticism and criticism may arise if it is perceived that personal learning plans are burdensome rather than useful tools for life management.
Personal learning plans may also be viewed negatively if they are poorly designed, if they tend to be filed away and forgotten, if they are not acted upon, if they are not meaningfully integrated into one’s life.
In other words, how personal learning plans are actually used or not used, and whether they produce the desired life improvement results, will likely determine how they are perceived.
I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”- Winston Churchill
Micro learning, combined with the power of emerging technologies, has the potential to make learning more powerful and natural. And micro learning, blended with mobile technologies, can enhance learning effectiveness by making learning contextual and personalized.
Micro learning powered by gamification can boost learner motivation to a great extent, and hence ensure higher learner engagement. Micro learning powered by today’s technologies is device, time, and location agnostic.
Micro-learning is: Connecting to learning though relatively small (3 – 7 Minutes) learning units.
Micro learning is more effective and powerful than the traditional approach of hour-long, day-long, or semester-long courses.
It helps integrate learning into the daily flow of life, thereby encouraging ‘continuous learning’.
Micro learning is learning in small steps (contrary to the traditional approach of learning through hour-long courses). It is made possible with the aid of small, well planned, bite-sized chunks of units or activities (called “Learning Packets”) that are short-term, digestible, and easily manageable.
Learning Packets are connected to the learning activity though an individual’s Personalized Learn Plan and the Meta-Tags associated to the Learning Packet.
Micro learning suits the constraints of the human brain with respect to its attention span. This approach aligns with research that proves we learn better when engaged in short, focused sessions, than hour-long sessions that cause information overload. Micro learning is not a newly invented approach but rather a realization of how the human brain is wired to learn. It is considered to be one of the best instructional approaches for new age learners.
In this approach, the learning content is offered in short durations of 3 to 7 minutes at the most to match the human attention span.
- Micro learning is suited for the just-in-time performance-based learning requirements of today’s workforce. It correlates well with instructional strategies such as spaced repetition and distributed practice that refer to learning using small, repeated, and increasing steps.
- Some of the highly successful examples of micro learning include Coursmos and TED Talk.
- The role of L&D in a micro learning scenario will be to help employees leverage the micro learning tools and formats to locate and share information.
- What is micro learning? What is its significance in today’s learning scenario? What are the possibilities this technique offers to make learning effective and powerful?
- How is this technique being (or, could be) used in workplaces around the world? What are some of the interesting stories of organizations who have already explored or even implemented this approach successfully for enabling more contextualized and effective ‘learning’?>
- What are some of the useful resources available on this subject that could benefit learning professionals?
Below are some of the interesting resources (from a big list we examined in this exploratory journey) on this subject that we would like to share with you.
We’ll start with a few interesting use cases of micro learning:
- A Case Study of Micro-Blogging for Learning at Qualcomm
This presentation (by B.J. Schone and John Polaschek at DevLearn 2009) discusses how Yammer was shortlisted and implemented at Qualcomm for encouraging micro learning within the corporate environment.
- Micro-Learning Simulation Cases to Augment Classroom Learning
This is an inspiring case study about a company called NexLearn which successfully used “Micro-Learning Objects” — a subscription-based learning nuggets program — to reinforce previously-encountered learning objectives on stroke prevention and atrial fibrillation to board-certified family physicians after an in-class learning experience.
- Micro-Learning Impacts
This contains seven interesting case studies that demonstrate how participants at Training Magazine Events applied micro-learning ideas to produce measurable business results.
- A Vision for Micro Learning
This is a brief video produced as part of the 6th International Micro Learning Conference in which Luvai F Motiwalla (Professor of Management, University of Massachusetts, USA) shares his vision about micro learning.
- Is There Value in Micro Learning?
This is the video recording of a panel discussion (conducted by La Salle University College of Professional and Continuing Studies) that explores the pros and cons of micro learning. Though lengthy, the discussion touches upon some interesting aspects of this learning approach.
- 7 Micro-eLearning Techniques to Improve Performance
At this article (by Christopher Pappas) you will find an in-depth look at how you can integrate Micro-eLearning techniques into your eLearning course, in order to improve performance and provide your students or employees with the most beneficial eLearning course design.
- The Age of Bite-sized Learning: What is It and Why It Works
This is a brilliant post (by Karla Gutierrez of SHIFT eLearning) that examines the reasons for learners preferring bite-sized learning, and the benefits it offers over traditional approaches.
- Megatrends in MOOCs: #4 Micro Learning Paths
This article (by Bryant Nielson) discusses how Massive Open Online Courseware (MOOC)s can act as frameworks for a wide variety of micro learning activities.
- Is There Macro Value in Micro Learning
Here is a brilliant article (by Deanna Hartley) that contains many interesting examples and use cases from industry experts such as Jay Cross and Harold Jarche.
- Tracking Micro Learning with Tin Can API
This article (by Tadej Stanic, CEO at Edynco) discusses the significance of tracking micro learning and how Tin Can API plays a key role in the process.
- Micro Learning as a challenge for Instructional Design
This paper by Michael Kerres (Professor of educational sciences at the University of Duisburg – Essen, Germany, and head of Duisburg Learning Lab.), discusses the challenges that micro learning poses for traditional instructional design, and the revised role of instructional design in developing effective e-learning solutions in the new scenario.
Coursmos is the world’s first learning platform that supports micro learning. It hosts several hundreds of micro-courses – online courses that are broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. These courses are characterized by minutes-long lessons that can be taken while on the move.
Cognibloom is a social micro learning tool that empowers people to share their expertise by helping them create social quizzes.
Twitter is the most popular micro learning tool that helps create and share information with people, thereby building relationships.
Yammer is the most popular enterprise micro learning tool that helps employees collaborate across departments and locations within organizations.
- Global Micro Learning Association
Global Micro Learning Association is a meet-up that was started with a goal to create a platform for micro learning professionals to share their knowledge, expertise, and ideas to build better learning experiences.
- Micro Learning Conference 8.0
This is an invitational conference scheduled to be held from October 1-3, 2014 at Krems, Austria. It is the first conference world-wide that focuses on micro content and learning as a singular area of technology enhanced learning.
Micro learning is going to be the future of learning. It is all set to transform how we learn both for our personal as well as our professional needs. We foresee micro learning tools evolving into an essential component of any enterprise learning toolbox.
Putting It All Together
The key here is that the “Learning Communication” that flows between the various @lantis Learning Communities should be as “transparent” as possible so that each Learning Community can value that information optimally for themselves.
How to Build Learning Communities
At one time a Classroom with a few basic books and a teacher was sufficient for any community. One teacher could teach all the necessary stuff a student would need.
But, as the number and diversity of students increased and the quantity of information and the ability to access information exploded having one large class was no longer optimal.
The evolution from first single room schools to classes divided by subject and level and then to “Learning Communities” follows the same evolutionary path as telescopes and Cellular Networks.
Rather than having one large learning institution, we need to break learning into a lot of small communities. Each one can then focus on much more narrow interests.
The challenge for learning communities is the same as the challenges for cellular networks and telescopes in that the challenge is linking all these communities together optimually.
Again, this is where the telescope and the cell networks are informative. The way both of these technologies accomplished this linkage is through a communication “Standard.” Once the “Standard” is defined, the number of “cells” or “learning communities” that can be linked together become quite large. (It may even be infinite.)
So, just as the telescope and mobile networks found that breaking down the information processing to small cells and linking the cells together, so to, can learning be improved by breaking the learning down into small communities of interest and then linking those communities together.
The Learning Community Architecture is made up of three fundamental activities:
- Filtering & Focusing – Concentrating on the important stuff and blocking out the noise
- Dynamic Course Updates – Improving the course continually
- Defined Learning Communication Codes – Standardizing the way people share information
While traditional education uses these same activities, it is the use of 21st Century “Electronic Tools” that sets the Learning Community apart from traditional education structures.
Using 21st Century tools allow the community to implement this new educational paradigm. (Here is a link to a Post that will provide some additional support for this idea.)
Filtering and Focusing help us sift through all the information available to find the nuggets of actionable information. Much like a miner filters and focuses the mining efforts to create a new end product, filtering and focusing information helps a learner create new learning.
Dynamic Course Updates is the process where the benefits of the filtering and focusing are stored and paid forward to the next class by updating the course real time as each learner contributes to the class. In the past, a class would be created and taught to successive classes virtually unchanged. Any learning that might have accrued is lost the moment that learner leaves the class. Rather than seeing individual learning as the end product of a class, a Learning Community sees the end product as the overall learning of the Community.
In a Learning Community a learner and teacher are both contributing to the entire educational process. The goal of the learner is not only learn for themselves, but also to contribute to the learning of all other community members that come after them.
Defined Learning Communication Codes are the specific “Meta-Communication” codes used by the Learning Community to move bits of information between learners. In order for optimal learning to occur the members of a Learning Community are better served if they use an agreed upon method of communication, which includes syntactic, semantic, and cultural codes. This is exactly why scientists use the Scientific Method.
The Learning Community is set up to seek out new knowledge and add that knowledge to the total accumulated knowledge of the community. Every learner is encouraged to, not only find new learning that helps them personally, but also find new learning that helps the entire community.
In this way classes are dynamic in the extreme. Every new learner taking a class should be able to add value to the next learner taking that class.
The idea that learning exists only in a classroom and disappears as soon as the class ends is anathema to a Learning Community.