Skills vs. knowledge, and how to evaluate if your Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Experience Platform (LXP) allows your organization to learn both
By Sahra-Josephine Hjorth
When I was in high school and later in college, I had a distinct advantage over many of my peers; my ability to memorize an enormous amount of information and recite it verbatim. It came in handy in many different situations. It helped me nail math exams, not because I understood the logic behind the math I was doing, but because I remembered the mathematical rules. It also often made me seem way more prepared than I actually was because I could drop historical quotes and give reference to the page it was listed on in our books.
While this particular skill has served me well back then, because my sole purpose was to get a good grade, it is a skill that has increasingly less value today. Yes, I enjoyed the bragging right of being able to name the entire list of US presidents while having shots at the bar in college, but today we have access to more knowledge than we can phantom via several devices and rarely do not have one of them on us.
I am happy to see the debate on STEM vs STEAM vs CORE etc. has gotten more nuanced over the years, but it is as if no one relates this conversation to their decisions about what Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Experiences System to use with their workforce, colleagues or students.
Several times a month, I am asked to debate or share my perspectives on “the future of learning” or provide advice on how we best prepare our children, current students and the workforce for a pretty uncertain future of work. How do we stay relevant? What skills are important to master today, in 5 years and in 10 years? I am happy to see the debate on STEM¹ vs STEAM² vs CORE³ etc. has gotten more nuanced over the years, but it is as if no one relates this conversation to their decisions about what Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Experiences System to use with their workforce, colleagues or students. Yes, the DNA or architecture of your LMS or LXP is geared towards a specific type of learning and may not be useful for another. In fact, most LMS and LXP are designed to help people learn new knowledge and test if they know that knowledge. If they don’t, there are mechanisms in place to help repeat the information until it is arguably stored in our employees’ brains.
First and foremost, I want to emphasize that knowledge does matter. But with knowledge alone, it is hard to get a Return on Investment (ROI). The ability of combining knowledge with skills and differentiating it so each learner gets a tailored learning experience that takes into account what they know and don’t know combined with the ability to practice and master new skills… see that is the future of learning.
Does the system enable the learner to do a wide range of exercises after the learner has watched videos or read texts?
So how do you know if your LMS or LXP is only designed to help teach knowledge and not skills? I’d look for one magical clue: Does the system enable the learner to do a wide range of exercises after the learner has watched videos or read texts?
Of course your vetting should go deeper than that. What kind of exercises are available if any? Different types of exercises will help practice different skills. Most platforms will only enable you to do a quiz or maybe answer open-ended questions in essay form. That won’t help a learner who needs to improve communication, cooperation or public speaking skills.
At CanopyLAB, we have 55+ exercise templates that we have divided into the following categories: Individual, Social and Collaborative. Examples of individual exercises are quizzes, brainstorming, mindmapping, and journaling. Social exercises are exercises that are done alone but involve another person later in the value chain, such as peer review. And finally, collaborative exercises are exercises where two learners or more collaborate in real time, such as roleplay, debate, virtual field trips and much more.
“We cannot teach our kids to compete with machines. Teachers must stop teaching knowledge. We have to teach something unique, so a machine can never catch up with us.”
It can be difficult to dissect the DNA of an LMS or LXP, that’s why we have created a short checklist to help you pick a system that enables your learners to gain new skills and not just knowledge.
¹STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
²STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math
³CORE = Creativity, Originality, Responsibility and Empathy