Our hyper-connected digital world has accelerated change. And, let’s face it, it isn’t always easy to deal with the twists and turns. To thrive in the 21st Century we must be flexible, innovative, and versatile. In this post, I’ll share 7 ways a Learning Community can help you be more adaptable to all this change.The first thing to consider is that change comes in a variety of different forms and with different impacts. Some changes may work in our favor, while others make us second guess our goals and rethink our decisions. Being adaptable is the key to getting through it in one piece.A Learning Community can help you stay focused, productive, and determined in order to thrive.Here are the 7 ways a Learning Community helps you manage to better adapt to change:
- Helps You Embrace Learning.
Believing you don’t know everything and believing there are always things you can learn are the first steps to successfully manage change. Learning Communities give you the tools to create an online learning culture that empowers your efforts to build on the changes around you in a positive way. Learning Communities provide extra support to get the learning you need when you need it. Learning Communities offer you the tools and resources you need to achieve your potential.
- Helps You Question Your Assumptions And Beliefs.
In order to be adaptable you must learn how to break down the barriers that are holding you in place. We all have habits, belief systems, and assumptions that may be preventing us from adapting to the situation. Sometimes all it takes is asking a thought provoking question to set the gears in motion and encourage us to analyze and reflect on our current cognitions. Questioning our underlying beliefs or why we react in a certain way prompts us to explore our motives, which brings us one step closer to increasing our flexibility.
- Helps You Seek Out Differing Viewpoints.
Everyone has their own opinions, ideas, and perspectives. Unfortunately, we may lose sight of this fact and get stuck in our own mental processes. Learning Communities offer a chance to share insights, provide feedback, and look at concepts and ideas from a different viewpoints. Learning Communities ask each group to develop online training materials, such as an online presentation that pertains to a specific task or topic. Learning Communities give us a list of online resources, like video conferencing platforms and Project Management sites we can use to collaborate online. The goal is to respect and value the beliefs of others, which allows us to see that there is always more than one way to approach a problem.
- Helps you Develop Creative Thinking Skills.
Creativity is one of the most important elements of adaptability. It gives us the ability to look at ideas, concepts, and challenges from all angles, then come up with innovative solutions to the problem. Learning Communities help you develop creative thinking skills by integrating visual brainstorming online activities, such as mind maps, sketches, and charts. Learning Communities offer case studies that foster creativity by creating an emotional connection with others by helping us reflect upon how we would handle the situation or what we would do differently.
- Helps You Learn from Mistakes.
Being adaptable is all about learning from mistakes and overcoming failures. When changes occur you must be able to turn every bump in the road into an opportunity to grow and discover their strengths. Mistake-driven learning can help you gain valuable experience and knowledge you can use in the future, especially when life throws you a proverbial curve ball. One of the most effective ways to emphasize the importance of failure is to create real life simulations. Learning Communities give you the chance to see the repercussions of your choices and actions in a supportive online training environment, instead of having to deal with a steep learning curve on-the-job.
- Helps you Explore All Of The Outcomes.
Learning Communities help you explore all of the possible outcomes and improve your adaptability. This is primarily due to the fact learning communities deal in real world situations and challenges. Learning Communities allow you to test out new approaches, identify areas of improvement, and determine which skills need to be developed. In essence, Learning Communities help you build a tool kit to handle any situation that comes your way. When disaster strikes you can call upon the information and experience gained through the Learning Community
- Help you Focus On Performance Gaps.
Learning Communities provide self-assessments to help you track your progress, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop a personalized learning strategy based on your specific needs at a specific time. If an online self-assessment reveals you need to focus on a specific skill set or task, you can find the online resources you require to fill the gap. The more knowledge and self-awareness you have, the more adaptable you will become. My experience suggests that if you are kept in the dark about your proficiency and have no means of testing your skills, you will probably stick with your unproductive habits
Learning Communities allow you take on challenges that come your way and stay calm and collected when uncertainty strikes.
Use these 7 tips to enhance their flexibility and get them ready for the changes you’ll face as you strive to thrive in the 21st Century
The key factors that are most likely to improve learning outcomes.
- Learners taking ownership and having a choice in what they learn and how.
- Differentiated and individualized learning
- Formative, constructive, personalized, and focused assessment
- Small-group learning experiences
- Opportunities for students to reflect on their own learning and to develop other noncognitive skills that help them learn how to learn.
- Flexible, collaborative tools to help teachers and learners incorporate these key factors and improve learning outcomes.
The two most important things we always need to learn to be successful are: 1) how to use the tools available to us, and 2) how to use our minds to best use the tools. And the important reality is that while the tools we need to learn to be successful change all the time, how we use our minds to best use those tools has never changed.
Clearly the tools we need to learn have changed from learning how to use a horse and plow to learning to use a gas station and the Internet. But, how we use our minds to best use those tools has not changed. Competencies like critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, self-awareness, control of impulsivity, executive function, caring about yourself and others, were as important to the cave men as they are to use today.
Look at the evolution of the competencies we need to learn. The cave men did not need to learn to read or write. However, today, reading and writing are basic competencies that cross all activities. Additionally, today we need to learn to use proper online etiquette, recognize how our personal information may be collected and used online, and leverage access to a global community to increase our changes for success. Mastering these skills requires a basic understanding of the technology tools and the ability to make increasingly sound judgments about their use.
A key to make this happen is to learn how to use the technology available to us as tools to engage in creative, productive, life-long learning rather than simply consuming passive content.
Technology has always been a powerful tool in learning.
The earliest learning technology, writing, transformed learning from just the memorization of stories told by a few near by elders, to the study of many different ideas from many different people and from many different times. Schools become places where written documents could be gathered, stored, cataloged, and taught. Particularly because many of the oldest documents had to be handled with great care, access was strictly controlled. So, learners had to travel to one of these schools in order to study these texts.
The next development in learning technology was the printing press and mass publishing. Together they transformed learning from the controlled study of just a few ideas and just a few people, to the study of current events and ideas from a vast range of thinkers. Ideas could now be reproduced and distributed to vast audiences. Learners could access orders of magnitude more information. Schools were no longer the only place books could be stored. Individuals could create their own libraries and learning started to become much more personalized.
The domestication of the electron and the subsequent development of the Computer and the Internet has led us to today. Today information is available in virtually unlimited quantities and (because of the huge bandwidth available) from many different media. No longer are there just a few publishers publishing static texts. Today everyone is a publisher. And we are updating those text at the speed of light.
The ability to seek new learning and acquire new skills brings personal growth to populations that have never had such capability. In addition to just plain text, which was the learning source for the last number of centuries, we now have video, audio, and interactive media.
Today’s learning technology has birthed a learning environment where access to personalize learning tools can help all learning reach incredible new levels.
Finally, the more the community buys-in to this type of learning environment, the more the community will realize the benefits of improved learning experiences.
Here are five suggestions on how technology should be use to ensure learners have access to high-quality educational experiences.
- Technology should be used to personalize learning and give learners more choice over what and how they learn and at what pace, preparing them to organize and direct their own learning for the rest of their lives.
- Use the things we learned about our understanding of how people learn so we can apply the personal and contextual factors most impact their success.
- Apply understanding of what people need to know and the skills and competencies they need to acquire for success in life and productive work in the 21st century.
- Take advantage of availability of high quality interactive devices and applications to allow teachers to adapt assessments to the needs and abilities of individual learners and provide near real-time results.
- Technology has allowed us to rethink the design of physical learning spaces to accommodate new and expanded relationships among learners, teachers, peers, and mentors.
Prior to the domestication of the electron, we had to go to “bricks and mortar” buildings and campuses to learn.
But, today, you don’t have to leave your desk to have virtually unlimited learning options available to you.
Unfortunately, our existing industrialized education monoliths continues to brainwash the business and professional communities that a traditional approach to credentialing is the only way. Under this, Henry Ford Assembly line model, all similar learners ride an educational conveyer belt in which they all take the same series of classes and when a number of courses or units are accumulated, they get a stamp of endorsement called a certificate or diploma. The amount of actually useful learning acquired on this 20 year assembly line varies greatly between learners.
There is no question a certificate or diploma is still relevant to today’s workforce. Employers and customers want to know you have the skills to do the job.
However, the problem is that the certificates or diplomas are not personally detailed enough for any outside observer to optimally value that certificate or diploma.
Fortunately we have 21st Century tools to fix this very real problem It is called “Micro-credentialing.” Micro-credentialing means that a learner gets a series of “personalized” micro-credentials acknowledging an individual’s completion of work, whether it is a noncredit course, a seminar, or other professional learning and skill building.
UC San Diego workforce research analyst Dr. Josh Shapiro notes, “Degrees and certificates often do a poor job of communicating detailed information about graduates. Micro-credentials and badges, however, indicate specific knowledge and skills—impacting skill sets that industry is seeking in new hires.”
The tools available to us today can usher in a welcomed new learning era, in which the competency verification industry needs, can be more optimally met. The tools available to us today, can easily and cheaply provide information to the community beyond what a transcript or diploma is able to convey.
We are living in a time when people need to possess a list of competencies that can be added to over time with a verifiable rubric to measure skill mastery, recognized and endorsed by industry and connected to our emerging online social media outlets like LinkedIn.
“Badges without taxonomies, without some shared understanding, without rubrics, are meaningless,” notes Matthew Pittinsky, an assistant research professor in the school of social and family dynamics at Arizona State University and founder of Parchment, a credentials-management company.
The notion of a student obtaining one large qualification rather than offer an array of micro-credentials (badges) is a relic of the past. From an employer’s point of view, the value of hiring a person with numerous mini-qualifications and a diploma provides a higher confidence in their investment as opposed to the risk involved in hiring a “blue chip” student from a brand name university.
UCSD Extension K-16 Programs have begun to implement a micro-credentialing program targeting students enrolled in our pre-collegiate programs. Their strategy seeks to refine the operational process involved in offering badges but also elevate these credentials from an informal acknowledgement to a professionally recognized measure of skills.
Of Course many people, particularly those entranced in the existing educational industrial monoliths, will dump all over this approach. I understand that. Confirmation bias, selective perception, and motivated reasoning combine with these educational agents of the past to resist any other model. But, that resistance will eventually wain as more and more 21st Century tools are deployed.
So, what are Micro-credentials:
- One skill at a time: Each micro-credential will focus on one competency and skill tied to a single rubric.
- Evidence to demonstrate skills: Students must demonstrate their competence by demonstrating and providing multiple examples of their work and to multiple assessors.
- Assessment and review: Each micro-credential will be reviewed, evaluated and endorsed by an advisory panel to ensure it is a reliable articulation of a specific skill.
- Connected to needed Community skills: Each micro-credential must be linked to needed community skills.