We live in the information age (also known as the digital age), which is a period in human history characterized by a shift from industrial production to information and computerization, significantly changing the way people interact with companies and with each other.
Today, information is readily available and free. The democratization of access to information has resulted in a change in the distribution of power between government and citizen, retailer and consumer, manager and employee, teacher and student. Today, there is a lot of information for anyone to manipulate and that information becomes obsolete very quickly. Continuous and timely access to the latest information has become essential for all actors in society.
The digital age is the age of the empowered customer, who can now make smart choices about the right product for the right situation, with all the relevant data, at the right time. In this new era, the consumer, not the brand, controls the interaction. To survive and remain relevant, companies now need to adapt quickly to an ever-changing market. In this new era, being really good at learning how to do new things results in a competitive advantage.
In addition to corporations, individuals also need to adapt their skills to remain relevant in the job market. The digital age requires individuals to be lifelong learners. It also emphasizes the importance of creative problem solving and the ability to make connections between domains to drive innovation. In the digital age, individuals must not only be able to find and navigate information, but they must also be able to critically interpret that information. They must also be able to express their ideas effectively through digital media. In the digital age, individuals must be digitally fluent.
Furthermore, when thinking about students in the digital age, we need to understand that they are more overwhelmed, distracted and impatient than ever. Today, students in the digital age want to be empowered and collaborative.
Given this context, we identified six characteristics that define learning in the digital age:
- Engaging through an exceptional and relevant learning experience
An attractive employee learning experience will generate intrinsic gratification, motivation and the active engagement required for more effective learning. To sustain this engagement, the act of learning must be relevant and meaningful, both for the student and for the organization. This is permitted through student-centered projects and business-aligned objectives.
- Empower, personalized and self-directed
Developments in digital technology have enabled students to choose what, how and when they learn. They seek personalized learning, tailored to their individual preferences and needs: they want a “one size fits all” learning solution. A culture of self-directed learning is emerging strongly with individuals heading towards which to learn next.
- Omnipresent, just-in-time, on-demand and in context
Digital students want to learn at the time of need when they encounter a specific skill or knowledge gap that prevents them from completing a task or achieving a desired tangible result. Learning should directly support the activities that employees perform in the real world and at work, rather than focusing on teaching knowledge and theories. Individuals must be able to access that specific learning within their own context, when they need it.
- The right combination of experience, social, informal and formal
Learning happens continuously, in a multiplicity of contexts and modes, supported by technologies that allow any student to easily access internal and external information and interact with networks of experts and peers. Mixing formats make learning more effective. Choosing the right format for the right purpose is critical.
- Hyper-connected with analytics everywhere
Digital age students must be able to connect with learning resources, information, colleagues and experts to learn effectively in the digital age. Providing simple tools that enable these connections is important for learning organizations. In addition, analysis can provide insights into students, their own development needs, what resources can meet their needs, how these assets are consumed, how learning can be improved, and how effective learning activities are.
- Continuous, research-based, exploring and doing
It is essential that individuals have their development and learn continuously. A company must be a place where constant learning opportunities allow workers to remain relevant in their jobs and in the industry. The learning project should promote research, exploring and making students able to research solutions for specific situations and build their own responses based on collective experience and existing knowledge.