In a world where we meet remotely more and more, recentering our experiences- especially learning experiences- on the human behind the screen is increasingly important. How do we retain the human element in a digital world? And why does it matter? Let’s take a look.
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What is Human-Led Learning?
Sometimes called human-centered learning, it’s something of an offset to the rise of automation. Smart machines, AI, and data-driven automation is a fantastic evolution, but it’s not the be-all, end-all of how humans communicate. Yet many institutions, from formal education services to corporate entities training staff, focus too much on the ‘how’ through digital channels and forget the ‘why’, the human behind the screen.
Education systems have been struggling for a while now. The pandemic-induced scramble to take learning online has done little to help. From built-in systemic inequalities like assuming all learners and all cultures can easily access digital tools, to simple failures to connect with the subject matter in meaningful ways when much of the tactile and sensory aspects of learning are stripped away, it’s more important than ever to recenter and place the learner, not the tool, back in the center of the educational paradigm.
The Power of Connection
Education requires the learner, be they a school child or a top CEO trying to freshen their skills, to be actively engaged with the material. It also needs to offer more than one learning channel. Typically, learning styles are divided into four broad categories:
- Physical- think reading, writing, and interacting
Most people favor one of these styles, with the others playing a critical backup role in the process of onboarding and retaining information. Additionally, learning material needs to encourage focus and remain engaging. Digital learning favors only the visual, leaving very little room for learners who need other types of stimulation to assist in the learning process.
And, honestly, it does that poorly too when not smartly shaped by the educator. It’s boring enough to sit in a lecture hall listening to someone drone on- doing it through a computer screen, especially in the era where notifications and pings from endorphin-boosting social media, email, and other distractions are also popping off, is painful. Add in constant distractions from other work commitments, family or pets, and environments that aren’t always created with learning in mind, and you just have a mess.
Putting the Human back in Learning with Technology
So how can we reshape the trend? Firstly, there’s the matter of putting the human back at the center of the learning process. Digital tools can be invaluable in stimulating different learning styles, but most centers opt for a droning voice or a characterless wall of text and expect that to impart what matters most in the material. Time to think again! There’s a wealth of digital tools that can re-humanize the learning experience. Think:
- AI video generators that bring a script to life in an appealing way
- Gamification, is the process of making learning happen through engaging game-like methods
- Apps that enable real communication, including feedback, a critical cornerstone of engaged learning
- Visual Media, slideshows, and infographics that engage all senses and learning styles
- Google Lens, which allows cameras to be used for image recognition learning
- Collective ‘vision boards’ and other centralized hubs that encourage teamwork and group planning.
When we re-center the learning experience on the human, rather than the tool being used to create or dispense the material, we create a richer, more successful learning experience.