“Who has time for this?”, this is one of the most common statements when it comes to activities outside of work and daily obligations. Our everyday life is dominated by time pressure, overwhelming sensory overload and busy appointments. We have learned to meter the consumption of human interaction ourselves – digitally, via smartphones, that cover almost our entire life. Social media, messaging apps and even online dating allow us to socialize after work, whilst on the couch alone. This trend also applies to further education and more specifically eLearning, but – just like with online dating – real human interaction must take place eventually so that the learning process is successful.
We live and love online, why not learn online too? According to current statistics, you can find 41.5 million Europeans registered on online dating sites, 10.9 percent more than in the previous year. In the United States, 39 percent of all heterosexual and 65 percent of all same-sex relationships began in 2017 via the Internet. According to current forecasts , 70 percent of all partners should get to know each other via dating apps by 2040. The advantages are distinct: no need to stop in bars, or to travel, and you can minimize costs. Online profiles offer all the essential technical features to find a date that correspond to crucial segmentation such as – age, height, education, hobbies and other match algorithms that sort the selection so that the app only shows relevant candidates. The first point of contact is simple and convenient. A 20-minute online chat is possible at home while in slippers and pyjamas; there is no need to travel as you can get to know someone via Skype or FaceTime – in short increments of time, from anywhere.
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“Blended learning” approaches guarantee success
The same benefits of having content on-demand in one’s love life online, equally apply to learning. For a long time, learners have criticized the fact that the journey to evening school is annoying and tiring: finally arriving in the classroom after commuting to and from work is mostly exhausting and hardly conducive to receptive learning. Online learning, especially in the field of foreign language training, initially seemed to be the answer to these challenges – but, just like with online dating, purely digital programs don’t work. If there is no human interaction, it is like endless flirting with text – at some point, the motivation and attraction for programs based only on listening exercises and online tests disappear.
“Blended Learning” was born, transforming the concept of eLearning, since it combines the human aspect and real interactions with virtual and digital learning approaches. As much as we love convenience, we want to see our needs met through learning, just like dating, through authentic, real relationships.
According to the Workplace Learning Report 2018, 74 percent of all employees want to learn in their free time. Additionally, 43 percent of Generation Z, 42 percent of Millennials and 33 percent of Generation X and Baby Boomers wish to continue their education independently and at their own pace. For most, successful learning fails due to a lack of time – 58 percent of Generation Z, 63 percent of Millennials, 50 percent of Generation X, and 37 percent of Baby Boomers say they would like to learn a new skill but have a busy schedule.
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Learn anytime, anywhere
What dating apps created, now also works on EdTech platforms: an individual program can be “matched” and put together in terms of personal preferences. Modern apps have chat rooms, online cafes and communities, self-directed learning exercises, but also the possibility of booking personal calls or video conferences with a real trainer thus the chance to build personal relationships. You learn in small amounts of time and regardless of location. Just like in dating life, where you can quickly send a few messages to the person you are building a relationship with during a coffee break, on the way home or in the middle of the supermarket line, exercises and lessons can be completed there, even pretty instantaneous electronic feedback can be available to provide instant validation. The level of engagement is also individually scalable – depending on personal goals and time frame. Not everyone is looking for a partner for life – and transferred into the world of language learning, not everyone wants to emigrate or start a relationship with a foreign language speaker. Instead some people want to improve their language skills to boost their communication with others or try and build better relationships with their diverse work culture.
Companies recognize that training must be easy to integrate into everyday life to be successful. Loss of work productivity due to day-seminars and yet encouraging employees to catch up on missed work commitments, often after normal working hours, does not motivate HR decision-makers and HR managers, nor the employees themselves to develop their skills. However, utilizing time gaps sensibly and learning effectively makes as much sense and fun as dating from the living room couch instead of in a crowded bar. 48 percent of the respondents to the 2018 Workplace Learning Report want to learn where it is needed, which is why programs tailored to everyday work promise the greatest success.
Getting to know each other in the online dating area is more effective today. Instead of trawling through hundreds of profiles and reviewing each only singularly or within deliberate search parameters that still offer too many options, algortihms are now more intuitive and all you have to do is swipe. The situation is like the modern, hugely successful “Flipped Classroom” method, where learners prepare for live sessions with interactive activities (swiping) and then put them into practice with a trainer (the virtual date).
Mobile apps are here to stay
Mobile apps are a huge part of our lives. Statista reported, that in the third quarter of 2019 there were 1.8 million apps on the Apple App Store and 2.57 million apps on Google Play. We spend between three and five hours on our smartphone every day – whether online shopping, sharing news with friends and acquaintances, publishing photos and thoughts via social media, online dating as well as work-related tasks. The more modern and multifunctional the application on the smartphone is, and the more it adapts to individual needs, the more popular is its use. EdTech companies are well-advised to explore the mobile app arena, as behaviour regarding the way we interact with content has and will continue to change in our ever-digital landscape.