Is the term smart learning environment new to you? Maybe it is because it is still in the infancy stage. It does sound like a virtual environment but in reality, smart learning environments are physical spaces. It is intensified with components that are context-specific and digital, equipped with devices that make learning faster and better. With smart learning environments, you get the particular learning content you need at the right time and the right place.
Smart learning environments provide hybrid learning modes so you can use informal and formal settings, class learning or independent learning. You can switch from digital to analog learning formats and vary your learning time and place. The smart learning environment is adaptable to the needs of the learners by analyzing available information and recommend appropriate steps.
To make smart learning environments work, they need the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence. This is a group of technologies that interconnects various forms of information technology from data analytics to virtual reality and radio-frequency identification (RFID). For the system to reach a high level of maturity, it needs plenty of data. It will require the learning history of every user to compile learning analytics that will provide the information to make the system adaptable to every user's requirements.
Benefits of smart learning environments
Today, learning comes in many forms due to the developments in technology. Learners prefer options for informal, self-directed learning. Because time is a precious commodity today, powerful and innovative ways to learn that will promote seamless and continuous workplace learning are needed.
When providing smart learning environments, educational institutions should consider the learning experiences and the viewpoint of the learners. This will enable them to choose from various available options at the different stages of their learning process, including offline and online options.
As you can see, smart learning environments advocate lifelong learning, especially in the workplace. Providing innovative learning methods inspires employees to pursue continuous learning to enhance their productivity and job satisfaction, expand their knowledge base and improve their potential in a fun environment.
Present challenges in implementation
As the system is still in the initial stages, several challenges should be overcome. One challenge is the learning culture and learning behavior as there will be a shift from pushing knowledge to the learners to learners pulling the knowledge they need. This means that there is a need to re-learn previous learning methods and find novel means to promote learning.
Since the concept of smart learning environments is digital, the second challenge right now is data privacy and data security. Users should be assured that they exercise control on data analytics all the time. At the same time, there should be a safeguard against becoming too technology-dependent.
Goals of smart learning environments
One of the primary goals of smart learning environments, based on application, is to ensure the future of the workforce and corporate learning. It aims to enhance the business chances of companies that produce and provide technologies, products and services that are associated with learning, as well as virtual and physical smart learning environments.
Creating a future workplace
Architectural design has a lot to do with modern and future workspaces that encourage co-working and collaboration. New workplaces, such as those promoted by Google and Facebook, focus on providing workplaces that embodies the spirit of the company to encourage creative and productive interaction among employees. Such companies cater to the need of employees to feel at ease in their workplace.
It has been proven that work environments have a direct effect on employees' performance. So how can you create a workplace that fits the needs of your staff? Here are some ideas.
1. Provide a human-centered office design
When thinking of creating a smart learning environment, keep in mind that it starts with thinking about the needs of the people who are going to use it. To enable you to implement the plan, you should first do a thorough analysis of the environment, the context and the needs. This will help you come up with the right personalized learning space that will promote independent learning and can be connected to settings for formal learning. You should discuss the process with your staff so you'll know their needs and they can contribute their ideas.
2. Create different environments
To enhance the workplace experience of your staff, it is essential to provide different environments that fit different activities. See to it that each work environment is complemented by the right furnishings and work tools. For example, if you are providing a recreation area, gather suggestions from your employees about what they expect from a company's rest and recreation space. It is understandable that you cannot cater to all the requests and suggestions for logistical reasons but you can consider the most popular among the suggestions.
3. Consider the working conditions
Employees are very sensitive to the conditions at work. Pay close attention to acoustics, air quality, cooling, heading, shade, artificial lighting and daylight. Ensure that a feel-good scenario exists. Harmony is important and it can be achieved by choosing the right furnishing in complimentary colors and shapes. Provide a space that enhances creativity using various stylish elements and work materials. Provide a nice ambience with plenty of plants and dimmable lighting. Multifunctional furniture promotes variety, activity and movement for creative endeavors. When you have creative spaces equipped with multifunctional furniture, your employees can quickly set them up for brainstorming sessions, face-to-face discussions, presentations and group or team meetings and collaboration. It allows you to maximize not only the use of the space but also the use of the furniture.
4. Provide the right tools and services
The work processes in an office constantly change. Even if you are technology-dependent, it is better to provide your employees with analog and digital tools to help in the management of their diverse workload while maintaining the work's fun factor. This means providing your employees with traditional office tools such as paper, pens, partitions and office furniture as well as tech tools like smart devices (3D printers, smart boards, smart pens, smart TVs and power walls), conference systems, projectors and computers.
5. Understand new work and learning methods
When you talk about digital transformation, you have to develop new skills in information, media, methods and communication. Learning, on the other hand, is life-long, on demand and complementary, occurs in and out of the workplace, and no longer confined to formal training classes held in classrooms. The expertise is developed by newer learning methods such as independent learning that draws support from professional learning aids, mentoring and coaching. This means a mix of formal and informal training. The learning materials are more focused and personalized, obliterating the boundaries of the individual's personal, working and learning life.
6. Account for corporate culture
A different culture exists in each company, such as work processes, procedure and techniques. These features should be considered when planning a smart learning environment in the office. Including them in the planning helps boost trust between management and staff and promotes feedback. It also helps employees realize their responsibilities to the organization.
7. Build the right infrastructure for smart IT
The heart of a smart learning environment is a smart IT infrastructure. It is made up of particular software and hardware components and the necessary interfaces to facilitate the smooth exchange of data. It requires cloud storage where all the needed and available knowledge is to be stored together with every work and learning materials and outcomes for easy access.
Connectivity to external resources and internal learning platforms (ex. Litmos, Docebo) provides access to the content of high quality (think e-learning). The interface between the external and internal resources is the smart IT system, which acts as the organizer of all the information that a specific user needs.
These suggestions will give you an idea of how to create a smart learning environment in the workplace. The concept embodies the idea of a modern workplace that is a mix of the different findings from architecture, information technology and education. Smart learning environments prepare modern workers for the additional requirements and demands of any industry in the future. The concept foresees a future where the standard of global workplace effectiveness becomes the basis for innovative strength and efficiency in an integrated workplace.
Effective communication process
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