The Smart Education term (or "smart learning") appeared in the media in the articles related to e-learning even before the term "electronic learning" entered the lexicon of companies and educational institutions.
After the information technologies’ initial "pen test" in education, the potential of e-learning development became apparent. A number of experts and practitioners were quick to announce the coming revolution in education, linking it to "related" digital revolution, the “Internet of things”, cloud computing, ubiquitous broadband Internet access and other trends.
We will not consider the general content of Smart Education here but limit ourselves to the practical issues: in what way the principles of "smart education" can work in the companies nowadays.
How to implement the ideas of Smart Education in the company
"Smart Education" states the following principles:
1) Free access to knowledge;
2) Individual approach to training;
3) Mutual training of a group or community.
In what way are these principles implemented in a corporate environment?
Free access to knowledge is provided by a learning management system (LMS), which usually combines the functions of a corporate portal. Any employee from their workplace has an access to the learning materials appointed to him by the LMS curators.
What can be done:
· allow the employees to request access to any materials that are interesting to them (even sidestepping the program designated for them);
· allow the access to learning materials outside the workplace (for example, to authorize the employee-owned devices in LMS), it would be a step towards "smart learning".
Individual approach to learning is not always present, but its implementation usually has all the prerequisites. Many companies have introduced a variety of Individual Development Plans (IDPs), which is a kind of a schedule of obtaining new knowledge by the employee. The list of competencies in this plan is exactly the employee’s program of Smart Education.
What can be done:
• if the company does not have development planning, it needs to be implemented. It is necessary to create a system in which the employee can (or should) have a definite list of skills to obtain/to master by a certain date.
Mutual learning of a group or a community requires an atmosphere of openness in the company, as well as infrastructure for collaborative online communication (forums, voice communications, personal messages, etc.) and offline (space and time for joint activities). Large companies have procedures of analyzing employees’ ideas, mentoring/ supervision and conduct brainstorming. In small business, the same thing happens when the head of some Department teaches the newcomers, discusses innovations with them, and gathers the employees’ ideas at the briefs.
What can be done:
· to give maximum encouragement to this process: the proposal of new ideas should become the norm in the company, and willingness to teach others – the employee’s desired behavior. When mutual assistance in the development and acquisition of new competencies will become the norm in the company, the Smart Education environment will reproduce the employees, open to new knowledge and able to quickly transfer the knowledge to their colleagues.
How not to be afraid of Smart Education
Smart Education in an ideal world would create a situation described by Steve Jobs with the phrase "It makes no sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do.
We hire people so they can tell us what to do". When an employee comes to a company, they begin to receive new knowledge. At first, the company says to them: "Learn this, because we need this from you". That is a period of adaptation.
Then employee is acclimated, gains experience and becomes aware of his need for new knowledge. This realization will not come to all employees. The atmosphere in the company will play an important role here. At that moment, it is the employee who says: "I need to learn this, and you please give me a chance".
Smart Education is designed to make people "smart" as Steve Jobs quotes. They do not come into the company from the outside, but they develop inside it with the course of time. These people consciously evolve and strive for new knowledge, and if they get it from the company, they apply the knowledge in favor of the company.
Is it easy to achieve such results? Of course, not. It is difficult and time-consuming. Success will not come immediately and will not cover all employees. So is it worth the effort? Each company has its own answer to this question.
We believe that it is worth.