Innovation Powered by Learning
We’ve reconciled a paradox! We’ve built a seamless online learning platform with a strong social dimension, privacy control, and no hidden algorithms.
I’m excited to finally get to write the launch blog of Dare2know, as it’s been quite a journey putting this together with a great team of international learning designers, psychologists, mentors, coaches and gaming technologists. I think what we’ve done is pretty special, as we will help more people to learn continuously and enable organisations to innovate with more agility.
Specifically, we’ve used a mixture of five distinctive integral elements to create a unique learning platform:
- A state-of-the-art learning management system supporting on-demand courses
- A social learning platform encouraging enabling collaboration
- Deep search capability, matching project founders with funders and investors
- Life-like VR animation, with a virtual “faculty” delivering expert tutorials with a perfect cadence
- Learning science, underpinning all our courses and mentoring with doctoral-level know-how and real-world expertise
The result is a seamless platform where individuals, organisations and communities learn and innovate together.
Meet Matt, just software?
A state-of-the-art learning management system
An LMS is a complex beast, as even a simple course generates a vast number of interactions with learners clicking through pages, uploading content and navigating course curricula. Increasingly, people want to learn flexibly, in an asynchronous non-linear way, dipping in and out of courses and seeing learning as a service on tap.
One challenge in e-learning is to avoid the “hosepipe effect, ” which deluges the learner with so much content that they can’t absorb or apply the learning outcomes. Yet, the courses still need to be coherent and understandable. Content has to be broken down into bite-sized chunks, delivered in a realistic timeframe, presented visually and imaginatively and made available across devices. Good design, therefore, requires that we balance these competing demands.
All this poses enormous challenges for legacy learning systems and educational infrastructure. The learning designer and author need to anticipate every question and judge the right pace and course complexity, mainly as the learner works remotely and autonomously.
We have used Learndash as the primary platform, as it is a global leader and has a fabulous community of designers who constantly exchange best practices. I recall getting stuck at one point (“3 days in a deep tunnel with no escape!”). And a delightful lady from the University of Ohio set me free. Yes, Savannah, I mean you!
- Self-directed, on-demand courses
- Bite-sized learning
- Seamless navigation
- Multi-device (responsive) format
A social learning platform
Paradoxically, the more sophisticated LMS systems deliver learning packages into the intimate space of our mobile devices, the more we are also developing a greater need for a social dimension to learning. This is especially true for Gen Z, who enjoy peer-to-peer learning and discovery with others much more than older generations schooled in more traditional lecture and essay-based learning methods.
Millennials and Gen Z tend to check out if things are authentic or credible with peers before accepting them and emphasise the lived experiences of others rather than traditional forms of knowledge.
This shift in the prevailing learning paradigm means that learners need to connect socially alongside a seamless online experience. The widely proven BuddyBoss platform we’ve chosen creates high-functioning project groups, discussion forums and searchable profiles.
- Project groups
- Own URL
- Discussion forums
- Member connectivity
Deep search capability
Being found and finding others is an integral part of the social learning dimension. Existing proprietary platforms like LinkedIn serve traditional careers and therefore have a CV-based structure. Yet, increasingly, work is project-based and relies on ad-hoc teams and ecosystems rather than conventional organisations. Founders need to display not just their CV but elements such as their funding needs, co-founders, IP, and competition wins. Investors are less interested in _5-7 years of experience” as the readiness to take the risk and generate that “zero-to-one” something-out-of-nothing alchemy.
Investors can directly search for projects that need Mezzanine funding in the next 12 months. Dare2Know facilitates this by creating unique profile search fields directly linked to innovation and entrepreneurship. For example, you can cite the funding round completed and the funding needs over the next two years. Try doing that on Linkedin!
This search capability is extended to the project or company level. It also means the project is searchable on the site by investors, partners or potential hires. You can set up a project group, and each group can have its own public URL. You can use the link to enter funding competitions or send it to investors before a formal website is live.
At the same time, we offer tools to keep all or parts of your profile personal or hidden and totally under your control. For example, you might want to stay in stealth mode for a while and open up your project as it progresses.
- Deep innovation-related search fields
- Visibility for projects
- Control over privacy
- Organic approach with no algorithms
Life-like VR animation
We all like to learn in a lovely room with a charismatic teacher in front of us. Or, perhaps soaking up a big-budget BBC documentary with Sir David Attenborough. But the reality is that our learning needs are so extensive and immediate that we can’t access enough content at the right price, at the right time and in the right way to make this a realistic possibility.
The use of synthetic avatars will, in my view, revolutionise teaching online and pose questions about static wordy content. The key is that we learn by responding to human faces. Research suggests that we respond well even to life-like images. The Synthesia characters are uncannily human-like in texture and voice tone. Let’s acknowledge that it’s even a bit weird and disconcerting.
Yet, because they are effectively digitising actors and their voices, from a cognitive psychological point of view, it delivers professional, “face” contact at a fraction of the cost and time it would take to shoot a conventional video.
The text is converted almost instantly into editable files. And, given that all images on screen are ultimately reconstituted pixels, there’s a philosophical “Turing-like” debate about the difference between a natural face on screen and a synthetic avatar.
What is real? The question of our age, eh?
- Innovative use of synthetic avatars
- Human-like face and voice tone delivery, not just slide-scrolling & abstract memes
- Dramatically lower cost!
Learning science is a trans-disciplinary approach to understanding how we acquire knowledge and capability and embraces subject expertise, real-world experience, cognitive and social psychology, and emerging insights from neuroscience.
For example, we know that the human mind learns best in bursts of 7-12 minutes. Despite this, the university system seems wedded to 45-mite lectures, which has even migrated into online formats. Educators and planners prefer scheduling longer blocks of time. With more time available, we tend to lapse into more conversational styles in an informal setting, relying greatly on the teacher’s charisma.
Unlike humans, software can be tailored to fit these more time-based requirements when providing content and can be configured as specific bytes of knowledge efficiently, economically and accurately. While not as “warm and fuzzy”, it delivers learning more effectively.
However, as mentioned above, simply delivering content is not enough. Learners need to discuss, share, argue and debate the key topics but do so in a facilitated and guided way. The group owners and conduct rules play a crucial role here. We must guard against trolling, clickbait, and other toxic forms of social media. Dare2Know do not use algorithms in matching members or in manipulating feeds. Our approach is entirely organic and user-driven.
Learners also need to be mentored through action-based learning, which is key to any innovation project. Real learning is not the lectures or even the discussions. Learning is generated by problem-solving in real-world contexts and the decision-making that flows from this.
For this reason, Dare2Know programs design our programs over 90-day cycles so that the programs run alongside and support applied action learning, not forcing feeding them according to a timetable.
The key is design thinking, driven by user needs and a ground-up approach.
- Action learning
- Design Thinking
- Subject-matter expertise,
- Real-world experience,
- Cognitive sciences
We need you!
We believe we’ve been able to put all of this together into a coherent and elegant whole. But you need to tell us if we’re right! Give dare2know a try, and tell us how we can get better and what we’re missing. Please set up an account and join in the discussion!