We live in a world where there is no shortage of content, to be precise, 280 million gigabytes of data in June 2018.
You can imagine how the climate of learning has changed over the last century. Almost a third of our planet's population owns a smartphone (that is 2.5 Billion people) which most of them use to search the internet for answers.
Our capacity to take in new information has increased substantially. Some say that the data presented to a 12-year-old child today over 24 hours is the same volume of data that a child 2000 years ago would've received through their entire lifetime.
I remember reading an article in 1995 about the rapid growth of technology. Back then the author stated that in the year 2010 people would need to receive learning about latest technology every two weeks, or face falling behind. In our modern day, we see a fear of missing out in people everywhere when new technologies present itself. A great example is blockchain technology. People worldwide fear that Blockchain is the next best thing and that they are missing out by not being involved, or not knowing enough. Then there is Artificial Intelligence, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Robotics, Big Data and many more.
Another more generic form of FOMO is having a broad enough general knowledge to keep up with conversations in social circles. We're required to be informed about the latest news, sports updates, about what diet works, most recent inventions, space exploration, medical advancement, and we need to be smart enough to comment on another person's rhetoric.
Never in our world have we ever been confronted with having to have all the answers on demand like we are today. The pressure is on, and whether someone chooses to take part in this rat race, or not, Google will continue to process 5 billion internet searches for other people per day, and beyond. There is a real fear over not keeping up.
So how do we learn?
Traditional learning for our Baby Boomers and some Gen-X's predominantly involved doing some sort of formal qualification or trade. This type of institutional education was underpinned by the lack of accessibility to knowledge. People had libraries where one would go to get a book for a week or two. The intention was to memorise the book, make notes and then retain the knowledge for future reference. The same applies to institutional qualifications; it was a go-to learning place where education was acquired and, where the best learners that could remember the most.
I remember when I was in school we had an encyclopedia containing 12 volumes which we used to do research with and write essays. It was a good time for me. I loved that set of books and learned a lot from it.
Now, in 2019 we sit with a systemic learning model in limbo. Let me explain. Most university degrees are outdated by the time students reach their third year. What's relevant for today, won't necessarily be relevant tomorrow. The top jobs in 5 years from today currently do not exist, yet our learning model is in limbo because a predominant part of our educational system is still institutional by nature.
What needs to change? And here is the thing, it is changing rapidly and organically. More and more people are relying on finding just-in-time learning, defined as small snippets of information on the premise that I learn it now and then I can forget it until I need it again. There is no need for me to remember the content. David Allen talks in his book about "Getting things done" about having a trusted system to keep the mind clear. Instead of remembering to buy bread, for example, a sticky note on the fridge will create space in our minds for what matters most.
Keeping a clear head is part of how modern learning works. The internet is like a fridge containing sticky notes of information we could use with a click of a button. The beautiful part of such method of learning is that we don't have to remember it. It was the digital era and boom of information that created this organic evolution of learning.
Of course, plenty of learning requires knowledge retention, some of it driving a vehicle, engineering, the social sciences, medical practice and surgery (although I did visit a doctor once that found my medical symptoms on Wikipedia and incorrectly diagnosed me with something one in a million people have over the age of 70.)
At work, companies could do a lot to support this organic way of learning. It is the responsibility of a good employer to help their employees keep their heads as clear as possible. When our heads are clear, we are more productive, more resilient, and better able to cope with the workload.
At Aggreg8 Learning, we help organisations with a broad range of learning solutions. We aim to provide world-class learning for your organisation and give employees the learning experience they deserve.
Thank you for reading. Let's get learning out of limbo.