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In an era where machines learning from machines is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, it’s crucial to consider how human learning will evolve. Fast-developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital tools offer unique opportunities to reimagine and enhance education, prompting educators to envision future learning landscapes

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Learning from each other in an AI world

Undoubtedly machines learning from machines will exponentially speed up (assuming we have enough power in the world!) in the years ahead. But how will people learn in the future?

We are all increasingly aware that fast developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital tools present us with a unique opportunity to reimagine and enhance learning.  Many in the world of education are busy trying to foresee what it will look like.

There is so much about the future we simply can’t predict, but whatever the tools and support systems will the nature of the way we learn change?

Here are some the reasons I think human connection will remain at the heart of how we learn, even in an AI world.

Deep rooted peer learning

Learning is a core part of what makes us human.  Machines may emulate us. But our connectedness to each other and ability to learn from each other is built into our DNA.   The effectiveness and inbuilt nature of social based learning is one the reasons we will continue to learn with and from each other.

We observe peer and collaborative learning across all areas of life, from children in the home learning from siblings to apprentices learning on the job from their colleagues.

Central to the power of peer learning is the reality that we learn a huge amount in life from those in close proximity to us.

Social learning theory particularly highlights the importance of learning through observation, imitation, and modelling of behaviors within a community or group.  Think school playground or the role of social media impacting behaviours and even political opinion.

Contextualising learning

The impact of peer learning extends far beyond the acquisition of knowledge. It can play a pivotal role in building confidence, resilience, and the soft skills necessary in today’s ever-changing world.

This kind of collaborative learning has long been recognised for its ability to facilitate deeper understanding, critical thinking, and active engagement among learners. All capabilities that will become even more essential in an AI-driven world.

By fostering environments that encourage collaboration and leveraging technology to amplify these contextual interactions, we can ensure a future where learning is not just about the acquisition of knowledge, but about building the confidence, character, and competencies needed for us to thrive in our present and future environments.

Tech enabled collaboration

Even the UK government has recognized the value of collaborative learning, emphasizing its importance in developing the skills and competencies needed for the future workforce. In a recent statement, the government highlighted the role of technology in enhancing collaborative learning experiences, stating, “Technology-driven solutions can play a crucial role in scaling effective peer learning practices, making them more accessible and impactful for learners across the nation.”

Research shows that learners benefit from the shared exchange of knowledge, perspectives, and experiences. Such interactions not only enhance cognitive development but also extend our support networks and broaden our perspectives.

I’ve personally seen how building an online learning environment with real human connection at it’s core can measurably enhanced the learning experience.

Knovia’s new Elevate learning model is utilising learning tech to free up tutors for more meaningful interaction with learners and is utilising online collaborative learning to contextualise and apply the learning for the apprentices – all leading to greater engagement and higher satisfaction with the learning experience.

AI driven connection

Technological advancements have given rise to the latest cohort of EdTech companies that are pioneering the use of AI in collaborative learning environments. These platforms leverage AI to provide real-time feedback, personalised learning paths, and collaborative tools that enhance interaction and engagement among learners.

The development of these platforms to increase, rather than replace human interaction and engagement, is a key opportunity to transform traditional educational models, to broaden participation and make learning more engaging and effective.

For example, AI-driven platforms can intelligently match learners with complementary skills and knowledge areas, building a more cohesive and productive learning community.

For me, this is where most of our focus and efforts should be going as we look at how to utilise AI to enhance the impact and effectiveness of our learning models.

Making ‘one small step for mankind’ at a time

It is easy to become paralysed by fear of the future and bury our head in the sand.  Yes, it does feel like tech is changing quickly, but people don’t.

According to the World Health Organisation (2023) only 68% of the world have access to a private toilet that safely disposes of waste.  Only 63% of the world have high-speed internet access and even then, the definition and consistency of ‘high-speed’ can vary hugely!   Whilst around 80% of the world’s children have access to lower senior education (with highly variable quality), the numbers drop considerably for upper secondary education and reduces to 40% for higher education.

There are both human and technology barriers to the speed at which tech can enhance the human learning experience.  AI-driven edtech can play a powerful part of the solution to democratised access to education, but getting the basic infrastructure in place necessary to support this will still take time.  And our human resistance to change is not necessarily a bad thing if we are protecting the things that make us human.

It is great to see the learning and education world starting to play with new AI tools. Building them into our development models will require a bit of trial and error.  This is, of course, how the future of human learning will be created.

My hopeful expectation is that the new tools in our hands will help us to develop future learning that is more collaborative, human connected and socially transformative.

References:

Topping, K. J. (2005). Trends in peer learning. Educational Psychology, 25(6), 631-645. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01443410500345172

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Boud, D., Cohen, R., & Sampson, J. (2001). Peer learning in higher education: Learning from and with each other. London: Kogan Page. https://www.koganpage.com/product/peer-learning-in-higher-education-9780749436125

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1). http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm

UK Government. (2023). Future of Work: The role of technology in enhancing collaborative learning and skills development. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications

Finnish National Agency for Education. (2020). The Finnish Education System. https://www.oph.fi/en/education-system

Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2021). Singapore’s Education System: An Overview. https://www.moe.gov.sg/education/education-system

Luckin, R., Holmes, W., Griffiths, M., & Forcier, L.B. (2016). Intelligence Unleashed: An argument for AI in Education. Pearson. https://www.pearson.com/content/dam/one-dot-com/one-dot-com/global/Files/about-pearson/innovation/open-ideas/Intelligence-Unleashed-Publication.pdf

OECD. (2019). OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030. https://www.oecd.org/education/2030-project/

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