Communities of Learners (with a Curriculum) — Offering Subscription Learning?
Michiel Klonhammer, one of the founders of LearningStone, taught me something last week — that subscription learning could be delivered within communities of learners, at least in those communities that have the advantage of a scheduled curriculum.
Subscription learning at its core is the periodic delivery of very short learning nuggets to learners. From the perspective of learners' cognitive architecture, there are several advantages to this method of learning. First, it can utilize the spacing effect, the finding that repetitions spaced over time are better remembered than repetitions not spaced over time. Second, it can reinforce ideas, providing the benefits of repetition itself. Third, because learners are likely to encounter these nuggets at work, they are more likely to be integrated in memory with workplace contextual cues.
The most obvious vision of subscription learning involves the intentional delivery of learning nuggets, designed and scheduled to maximize effectiveness. What Michiel (pronounced Michael in the English-speaking context) taught me is that short learning nuggets could also be delivered in a less prescribed manner when communities of learners deliver learning messages to each other.
LearningStone is a group-based learning platform that is typically used by learning facilitators (trainers, educators, and managers) to take learners through a curriculum and maximize learning-related interactions between learners. LearningStone's creators believe strongly that the human element is a key to learning. They built LearningStone to provide blended learning with a strong focus on collaborative learning — where the system and the trainer or coach can stimulate collaborative actions and both the system and the participants can stimulate other participants to join in, to be engaged and be motivated.
From a subscription-learning perspective, LearningStone's curriculum interface schedules learning events. These learning events are focused on the whole group, not the individual. That is, the learning events are not scheduled based on a particular learner's performance in learning. In addition, learning can occur at the initiation of the learners themselves.
I still have more to learn about LearningStone, but here are some initial reflections:
- Having a scheduled curriculum, even if it is not individualized, can provide learning nuggets spaced over time in an intentionally-designed manner.
- Obviously, this may miss some of the advantages of individualization, including more targeted retrieval practice, more precise feedback, and gamification affordances; yet, such spacing and intention can produce better learning than one-time events.
- Where communities of learners are active, their interactions can provide additional short learning events — and perhaps, just as peer mentoring is often more effective than expert-mentoring, such interactions may be especially beneficial to learners.