Opening up the ways we learn

By Vicky Mariner, breastfeeding counsellor and member of ourNCTeducation practitioner reference group

A little over ten years ago, I completed my level 5 training as a breastfeeding counsellor. I loved the cosy tutorial groups and formed close friendships with my fellow trainees. Karen (our lovely tutor) had a box of books we could borrow in the corner. We had stimulating discussions, shared mini-presentations and were given plenty of paper handouts. 

Last year I completed a level 5 in Learning and Development with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The revolution which has taken place over the last ten years in learning and training is astonishing. E-learning, m-learning, digital learning platforms, social learning, blended learning, LMS, CMS, MOOCS and a whole host of other confusing acronyms – it’s a brand new language! 

Foundations of human learning have not changed – our brains don’t actually work differently just because we are in the digital age. E-learning is not automatically more effective just because it is delivered by computer. I must admit my personal experience of e-learning through my day job as a corporate HR Manager has not been positive. When executed poorly it can be boring and ineffective. Many see it as simply a tick box exercise.

But the possibilities… are exciting!

Algorithms taking into account everything, from existing prior experience to how confidently or hesitantly you clicked on an answer, means that programmes can be tailored to each learner’s needs.

There are now so many options available for reading more on a particular topic which grabs your attention. A pop-up links you to the most up–to-date NICE guidelines. Or your own local statistics, an audio podcast, a YouTube video or TEDtalk, a webinar invite, or a discussion on a related forum. And that is before we get to the possibilities of virtual reality or augmented reality. Practice in front of a virtual “live” group of parents anyone? Or instead of a 2D picture of a pregnant woman’s body in a text, you hover your mobile over the page and you can see inside a womb projected right in front of you?

It’s a far cry from the “click > click > next” of the boring clunky e-learning.

Social learning is another huge shift. We know that often the most enjoyable part of a study day is the informal learning which goes on when we swap stories, tips and techniques. When done well this can work effectively digitally as well. Students can set up their own Moodles, Wiki’s and forums and even attend “virtual” coffee mornings. We know that nothing will ever beat the personal, face-to-face touch of really being with other people. We also know that the time and cost of travelling for training sometimes makes the whole endeavour prohibitively expensive. We don’t all live near London or Bristol after all!

As our training of practitioners evolves it is exciting to think how we can harness this new technology. Even via a computer, people learn from people.

It’s great to see how the project team are genuinely looking at how we can utilise these new tools while protecting what is good about the old style of training.

Stay up to date with the latest project news from ourNCTeducation on the project babble page here.

One Reply to “Opening up the ways we learn”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *