Dean's corner

BackLearning in an age of digital distraction Associate Dean

Learning in an age of digital distraction

By Tony Sheehan

In this age of rapid technological development – where each new technology promises to revolutionise our industry – it is right to ask whether the ability to innovate in learning is being hampered by 'digital distractions'? All too often, the spectacular promise of a new technology matures to a reality that is less exciting; solutions that are difficult or expensive to implement as well as having limited impact on learner engagement.

LBS has rightly built a world-class reputation teaching students to question and to innovate and we’re doing the same as we develop our digital learning environments through three steps:

  • First, based on School needs and market analysis, we’re eternally curious about the potential applications of new technology. We actively reflect on and experiment with appropriate new technologies, working with partners to explore the feasibility of, for example, better mobile, collaborative, AI and VR solutions.  Such low stakes experiments help to inform conversation about new trends, as well as creating active prototypes to assess need for further investment
  • Second, based on School priorities, we continually stretch our digital capabilities through targeted projects with Degree, Executive Education and for Alumni. Adaptations, plug-ins and customised solutions have been developed in areas as diverse as virtual classroom experiences, fully online programmes and content curation tools as well as designing on opportunities for personal assessment and reflection. 
  • Third, based on a 'product as a platform mindset' we’ve created and are continuously extending a firm foundation for digital learning.  In Canvas, our learning management system the Digital, Edtech and Systems teams of the School are continuously extending an adaptable and reliable ‘kit of parts’ to support programme needs. This ‘one School’ approach has helped inform an appropriate set of learning templates and visual designs, as well as to nurture constructive discussions on priorities for improvement

It’s easy to be seduced and then driven to distraction by the promises of new technology. It’s also possible to obsess about improving the basics, stretch what we have and to be selectively curious as to what are potential areas of ‘appropriate innovation’. We focus on finding the right balance between agile experimentation and stable foundation, informed by the level of investment required versus the value that it provides.