In nature, science defines an ecosystem as a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. It’s only when there is an appropriate balance between the various pieces of a biological ecosystem that the organisms living within it can thrive.
To understand how a learning ecosystem works. Think of the three components a biological ecosystem is made up.
- Discrete organisms trying to meet its core functions
- Physical environment where they carry out those functions
- Complex relationships between the organisms and the environment
An ecosystem happens naturally, isn’t forced, and works flawlessly to its own rhythm.
Each learner is like component 1, doing their “core function” , and the location / society is their physical environment where they function. When you put a learner into a super formal, stuffy kind of environment, you are taking them out of their comfort zone, and in essence, destroying a key component of the ecosystem.
Chances are that your learners are taking part in a learning ecosystem without really thinking about it or you being aware of it. Whether they’re watching an explainer video on YouTube or they’re reading up on product specs outside of a “classroom” environment, learners are getting the information they need from a learning ecosystem that is natural to them.
How can we build an effective Learning Eco System?
In today’s digital world, a web of learning resources surrounds every individual. It’s an environment wherein each resource connects to others, creating an overall structure in which all learning takes place. The learning ecosystem is the combination of technologies and support resources available to help individuals learn within an environment.
Today we understand that learning takes place outside as well as inside of classrooms. We now realize that learning happens all the time, in just about all areas, and in formal and informal ways.
Advances in technology drive much of this evolution. People today don’t always need to wait for the next class or workshop in order to learn. Technology enables us to learn on demand. We have systems that make it possible for people to summon resources at any time to support learning—not only during the workday, but 24 hours a day. We also have systems that can monitor the work of an individual, recognize when they are struggling, and automatically supply performance support resources to provide assistance.
We can virtually connect to, collaborate with, and learn from other individuals in real-time, regardless of how far apart we may be geographically. We have access to huge repositories of data that grow exponentially each year, and we have the ability to filter that data to show exactly the information we need, at the time that we need it, or to analyze the data in ways that we previously could not.
Technology has completely redefined our expectations of the learning experience. Unlike learning in a classroom, today there is a wide array of resources available to individuals: Most of those resources rest on new technologies. It’s not about managing a single learning resource any more; it’s about understanding the benefits of multiple learning resources, choosing the best ones for individual needs, and balancing the entire system of multiple resources in a way that provides greater support overall.
Rather than try to craft the “perfect” environment, allow a healthy learning ecosystem to form by simply making sure learners have the information and opportunity to carry out their function in a comfortable setting.