Methods and Tools for Learning in the 21st Century

Learning not only the pieces of knowledge, but the additional tools that are dearly needed in order to be active, thriving components in today’s and tomorrow’s society is key.

Evidently, current academic and educational institutions are not up to the job, while gamification, Learn to Earn and other components in moving to a decentralized system of certificates can be the solution to achieve what is needed.

Learning is a wonderful process, fundamental in our lives. The social signals that come with acquiring a given title can be valuable. The license earned can be a requirement for practicing a certain type of profession.

What can be the alternatives that we should explore and then implement if we find them useful and adapt to our needs that are going to replace the traditional college curriculum, if we decide it is not up to the expectations of today’s world.

We know that traditional online learning cannot be it. We have statistics over the course of the past 10 years and more: the completion rates of online courses are abysmal (less than 5-10%). We need to find better ways to make sure that people have the right incentives. To do so, they need to learn to interact and engage with communities of interest that are constituted by like minded people. A good example of this is gamification, and we don’t have to think about reducing learning to childish activities. What we need to understand is that the right nudges and the right prodding, on a daily or weekly basis can actually work. The smaller atomic benefits, the little badges, the achievements of leveling up: these are all part of the experience that an increasing number of people have grown up with.

We have to make sure that not only the knowledge, but the tools with which we acquire and analyze knowledge are constantly upgraded. These are, of course, going to be based on Artificial Intelligence. We already use tools that sort and rank information for us, as is the case of a search engine, like Google, where the results that we get are increasingly interactive. The AI behind these interactive tools must be incorporated in our ability to explore knowledge, and there are already a large number of applications that include them. Duolingo for learning languages is famous for its incentives, Khan Academy introduced similar systems in its website and app as well.

Blockchain promises the ability to make the badges earned  transferable, transportable. Implementing them as NFTs will be a natural additional step.

What will be the next series of tools? You could be inspired by reading the book Diamond Age by Neil Stephenson, the same person that in Snow Crash employed the term Metaverse that is now inspiring us in so many ways. In Diamond Age there’s a young child who has a book that becomes more complex as she grows. The kinds of knowledge and the kinds of wisdom that she can learn from the book very much resemble the tools that we will need in the future, to be able to adapt to the challenges that we are going to face.