Technologies to facilitate learning

Technological, economic, social and cultural changes lead and require the learning of new skills. New knowledges are difficult to squeeze in a limited program. This implies that we need to help learners to manage knowledge: how to find, analyze, evaluate and apply them as they are constantly changing and growing. The second point is the increased importance placed on the skills or the knowledge to meet the demands of 21st century society. For example, skills such as critical thinking, independent learning, how to use information technology, data and software in a relevant discipline and entrepreneurialism. The acquisition of such skills requires active learning in rich and complex environments with many opportunities to develop, practice and apply these skills.

ICT naturally bring the ambition to better empower learners with respect to knowledge. Recent developments in digital technologies, especially Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, social media) and mobile devices (phones and tablets), have given to individuals who use them more control over the access to knowledge as well as its creation and sharing. This can empower the capability of learners, and training staffs are finding new ways to leverage this control. In all the discussions of Learning Management Systems (LMS), Open Educational Resources (OER), widely opened online courses (Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC) and the benefits and challenges of learning online, the most critical issues are perhaps those that affect the way technology is changing the way we teach and, more importantly, how learners learn. Since we do not have a better word to describe it, we call this the “pedagogy”.

Recent years show the emergence of use of new tools and new approaches brought by ICT. The main idea is to extend learning for an age of mobile connectivity and/or try to bring back the joy of craftwork with the help of new digital tools. MOOCs, for example, are defined by lectures formatted as short videos combined with formative quizzes, automated assessments and/or peer and self–assessment and an online forum for peer support and discussion. Although not specifically designed to optimise learning, more and more MOOCs are based on sound pedagogical foundations that are at the very least comparable with courses offered by universities. The proposition of free online courses has spread to both high school education and workplace training and become increasingly popular, encouraging lifelong training, improving quality and collaboration, attracting training stakeholders, extending public awareness of education through fun and enjoyment, building a path into education for those who are currently unable to meet requirements.

The computer technologies have a huge ability to represent and process data. Collected data on learning platform can be used to monitor the learning process and can help to identify problems, discover patterns, increase awareness, reflect and self-reflect, improve teaching, discussion and participation.

Increasing multiplicity of ways to connect to the information potentially allows individual to be in a permanent learning situation. Datas can be collected, analyzed and shared in a variety of contexts and with different processes : accompanied, collective or individual. This allows for example learners to produce pedagogical content themselves for further use or discussion.

Connected technologies provide information and offer interaction. As a result, many people can share and contribute to learning, the boundary between teacher and learner becomes more blurred, the relationship to knowledge becomes dynamic. This invites critique and discussion of which element is most appropriate and why. Sometimes, answers take the form of coaching, with long tutorials around the question being answered. Open access and network practices allow teachers and researchers to benefit from digital for all their research, to help the people in their work, and to build new projects together. Those technologies allow to produce affinity groups that actually materialize for some. A strong culture of “make” is widespread throughout the world: the “DIY” (Do It Yourself), based on share, experimentation, creation, discovery and joy for a large audience.

Digital badge is a technological innovation to improve and facilitate skill recognition. This is a representation of a skills earned. Open Badges allows you to verify your skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations. Multiple badges can be combined from different issues to tell the complete story of achievements — both online and offline. Badges can be displayed on the web, and shared for employment, education or lifelong learning. Anyone can award badges for skills or learning and employers, organizations and schools can explore them.

In the 20th century, various studies have shown the importance of tools and activities in the learning process. As illuminates the constructivism theory, knowledge is constructed in the mind of the learner and not statically transmitted via books or trainers. Experience and practical tools brought by technology can be very relevant in the process of learning and new practices can take full advantage. However the transfer of ICT in the broad field of training is not as simple as one can say : ICT is still linked with more ideological aspects, sometimes related to economic dictates of a different order, and can accelerate the change too fast, or introduce harmful, useless or overfull informations. If the domain of training can benefit from significant technological contributions to develop varied and relevant approaches (formal / informal, individual / collaborative), the effectiveness of these technologies need prerequisite skills, which are becoming ​​real issues in the contemporary society. The integration of ICT requires a certain distance with respect to what could be a misunderstanding of its interest. The belief that technologies are the best vectors to realize the potential of the individual is a mistake. Technologies require for instance research skills and information identification and sorting skills. Without, learning can be daunting, sterile or even regressive. If technologies provide significant tools to improve the empowerment process, experimentation, interaction and validation cycle remains often fundamental in a specific context.