Pervasive Learning in eLearning

Pervasive Learning in eLearning
Summary: More often than not, the most memorable and exciting learning opportunities take place outside of formal learning environments. In this article, I'll talk about the basics and benefits of pervasive learning in eLearning, so that you can create eLearning experiences that are immersive, interactive, and collaborative for your learners.

The Pervasive Learning in eLearning

As eLearning professionals, it's essential to stay up-to-date with emerging educational trends, so that we can offer our audience the best possible eLearning experience. Social learning is one such trend, which appears to be here to stay, and within its vast realm there is a new approach that seems to be growing in popularity: pervasive learning. But what is pervasive learning, and what benefits can it offer to your audience?

What is Pervasive Learning?

The term “pervasive learning” was officially coined by Dan Pontefract in his book Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization (Wiley, 2013). In this book, Pontefract defined pervasive learning as “learning at the speed of need through formal, informal and social learning modalities”.

According to this concept, learning goes far beyond what we learn in traditional classroom settings. It extends to the world of eLearning, informal learning, and moment of need learning. There are opportunities to learn in everyday life, and education is not something that can only be found in textbooks or formal learning resources, but everywhere. As such, we are all lifelong learners that have the ability to absorb and retain knowledge every day of our lives, even if we aren't enrolled in school or participating in training activities on-the-job.

The notion behind pervasive learning has been around for quite a while. In fact, Dan Pontefract compares the idea to Charles Jennings' 70-20-10 model, which suggests that 70% of our education is from completing difficult jobs or tasks, 20% is derived from people (mentors, bosses, etc), and the remaining 10% is from courses, books, and other formal education sources. As you can see, according to this model, most of our learning takes place outside the confines of the classroom.

Thanks to new and emerging eLearning tools and technologies, learners now have access to a wealth of information anytime, anywhere. Today learners can get on their phones, tablets, and computers if they need information, which allows them to expand their understanding and develop their skills when it's most convenient for them and when they truly need to gather new, critical knowledge.

The Benefits of Pervasive Learning in eLearning

  1. Allows learners to go at their own pace.
    When learning takes place anywhere, anytime, individuals gain the power to go at their own pace and don't feel the need to keep up with their peers. They won't have to rush through the eLearning experience, because it will be entirely under their control. Rather than having to feel pressured to complete a module before the person sitting next to them or under a time constraint allocated by the instructor, they can truly immerse themselves in the content and take the time to absorb the key ideas. This leads to a truly powerful eLearning experience, given that learners have the opportunity to become active participants in the process. Also, it gives the benefit and inspiration that adult learners need, due to their busy schedules and sometimes hectic lives.
  2. Encourages learning outside of the virtual classroom.
    One of the most significant benefits of pervasive learning is that learners have the chance to access information when they truly need it. Instead of just acquiring new knowledge in a classroom environment, they are able to glean it from a variety of different resources within their personal and professional lives. They are able to immediately see how their new found knowledge will lead to real world benefits and how the choices they make lead to real world consequences, which boosts knowledge retention and motivation. They can use their mobile devices to learn how to carry out an important task or to get information about a particular topic that is of interest to them, giving them the opportunity to become perpetual and lifelong learners.
  3. Prepares learners for real life challenges and situations.
    Not only does pervasive learning equip learners with the skills and knowledge they need to complete tasks and comprehend complex subject matters more effectively, but it also offers them the chance to prepare for real life challenges and problems. They have the ability to fine tune their technology and communication skills, and to grasp the real life applications of what they are learning. There isn't any doubt that learning is becoming an increasingly social experience that happens at a moment's notice, and is equipping learners with the tech skills they need to access this form of learning.
  4. Enhances the eLearning experience by providing a collaborative environment.
    Above all else, one of the most convincing arguments in favor of using pervasive learning in eLearning is the fact that it allows for seamless collaboration. It creates a learning environment wherein learners can interact, offer feedback, and work together to solve problems and overcome learning challenges. They are able to engage in social learning via social media sites, project management tools, and collaboration tools that allow them to learn from the experience and skills of their peers. They are able to immerse themselves in a microcosm of society, in many respects, so that they can see how the teamwork and the open exchange of information offers a wide range of personal and professional benefits.

A pervasive learning strategy will allow you to develop eLearning experiences that are informal, effective, and immersive for your learners. It offers them the chance to expand their knowledge base and develop their skill sets whenever and wherever it's most convenient, making it an ideal tool for both corporate and adult learners.

Are you looking for Social Learning tips, advice, and techniques for creating a successful Social Learning Strategy? Read the article 8 Top Tips to Create an Effective Social Learning Strategy where I walk you through on how to develop a Social Learning Strategy that engages learners and encourages collaborative eLearning.