Designing for the Love of (Digital) Learning

After two or more decades the digital learning is still on its infancy. There has been and is multitude of applications and services that try to teach us new skills and become better humans. Unfortunately really no digital app or a service has really gained any traction.

There are exceptions of course, Wikipedia being an astounding human achievement in pooling knowledge and Duolingo, a language training app, on a smaller scale.

TEDxOtaniemiED 2015 event in Espoo focused in on the question, how to design for love of learning. To make digital learning an actual possibility.

The theme of the event was learning together. And to come think of it, all of the digital learning tools to date facilitate unidirectional learning, from the teacher to student. In Coursera for example, the courses contain series of video lectures, homework and an exam.

According to one speaker, Inga Rikandi, the academic study on learning focuses in cognitive skills of the student and less on motivation, tenacity and joy. Other speaker, Laura Heinonen, noted that in her best learning memories the students are facing each other and discussing, instead of sitting still and listening the teacher.

This rings true to me too. What if the next generation of digital learning tools would facilitate collaborative learning through workshops and co-creation. The development of artificial intelligence could tailor learning events suitable for every participant.

Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara said that we should reinforce strengths of our learners and not the weaknesses. The best way to focus on strengths is to create a safe place to fail and foster joy.

A recent trend in service design and probably in edutainment too has been gamification. The hook has been to earn badges from completing courses. But what if the gamification would be a vehicle to achieve that safe environment and elicit joy.
Finally, many of the speakers talked about life long learning. An interesting topic in itself.

Today many people aim to learn to fit in a certain box or in a job description. After finding a job, the learnings stops. One speaker, Petteri Kallio noted, that he is feeling most joyus when learning new stuff. The reasons might vary, but I think that part of the reason is accessibility and the lack of peer support.
(Digital) Learning should be a life long companion. And there are ways to go and latent need to fulfill.

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