Learning and Technology

Learning in the 21st Century

Globally, at work and in education, business, and training, the ability to innovate and create knowledge is a highly sought after attribute in individuals and teams.  This comes with an increased awareness of the need for people and organizations to  work effectively in rapidly changing contexts.  Adapting effectively in individual, group,and organizational learning situations now requires a clearer understanding of how learning strategies fit into the context of modern technology usage.  

Natural Systems

As humans we have evolved a complex and highly adaptive system (the human brain) that has allowed us to adapt within the complex adaptive systems of our groups and societies, that have in turn allowed us to adapt within the complex adaptive systems of our natural environments.  The human brain and its ability to interact closely with other brains (even non-human brains) makes us quite special.  We may not be the fastest or the strongest species, but the human brain is the most adaptive and  our cognitive power both as individuals and groups is second to none.  We have a highly developed sense of self awareness, we are able to see situations from multiple perspectives, and understand and work with abstract concepts as a matter of normal daily living.  We deal with complex adaptive systems on a daily basis as a matter of course. 

However, if we impose rigid constraints on our natural systems we become ineffective and dysfunctional.  All too often, especially in work situations you can see overly rigid rules and technologies imposed in an attempt to restrain and replace natural human intelligence.  Processes and routines have their place in learning and organizations, but they need to be kept in appropriate context. 

One of the most fascinating developments in the information age is the apparent evolution of social technologies online.  Effective methods of learning and communicating seem to just evolve spontaneously.   A huge variety of technologies and tools are out there, and some surprising ones emerge and serve as great channels for knowledge and creativity. 

A similar evolution can be seen when people expand their repertoire of cognitive strategies:  A set of new strategies emerge to improve overall effectiveness.  If a new cognitive strategy is imposed on or taught rigidly to a group or individual it can lead to resistance, demotivation, shallow learning, or even overload.  However, if a set of strategies is learned and applied in the context of the broader natural system then effectiveness, knowledge creation and innovation can grow and evolve. 

Cognitive Strategies
Cognitive strategies, or learning strategies, are what we use naturally to think, learn, create and communicate.  We develop them naturally especially as children and young adults, and if we continue to challenge our minds, we can develop and integrate effective learning strategies throughout life.  Some strategies are informal and are often used automatically, and others are more formal and require systematic application.  Research indicates that more strategies and more flexible application leads to higher cognitive effectiveness.  Here are more resources on cognitive strategies.

Tools for Learning, Innovation, and Creating Knowledge

We now have access to more learning tools than ever before.  Paper and pen are being supplemented with an increasingly diverse range of computer and online creating and collaboration technology.  We now have the opportunity of using textual, visual, and 3D representations for learning, collaboration and effective presentation of knowledge.  How you use these opportunities depends upon your knowledge about what the general options and alternatives exist now.  Effective use also depends on the knowledge you have for applying those technologies.  Here are more resources on specific learning and knowledge creation tools

The Adapt Smart Framework
The Adapt Smart Framework was developed to aid the flexible application of learning strategies in the context of modern information and knowledge resources.  The core of the framework emphasizes adaptive behaviour, and supporting concepts have been integrated into the framework to drive productive thinking and learning, and the communication of information and knowledge. 

The background concepts of adapt smart are evidence based and involve actionable concepts from cognitive psychology.  These include multimedia concepts such as cognitive load, working memory, and human information processing.  These are placed within the context of the overarching concepts of dual coding and how it has evolved in the social context of complex adaptive systems. 

Interactive Concept Modeling

Interactive Concept Modeling has been developed to support the use of 3D graphics and immersive environments for learning.  It is essentially a diagramming technique that can be used to build knowledge, reduce mental load, and increase cognitive effectiveness for a wide variety of activities from thinking and planning to idea generation to project management.  Its application as a pen and paper or tablet computer diagramming technique is designed for transfer to 3D immersive environments and 3D graphics applications.