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Dec 9th, 2023Ryan Evans

How Bedrock Delivers Knowledge to the Learner

It’s become old hat now that we are in the Age of Lifelong Learning. But are we really?

I find myself grappling with a mix of optimism and disappointment. At Bedrock, of course, our mission is focused on lifelong learning – a continuous pursuit of knowledge – and specifically professional learning. And the vision of lifelong learning is pivotal in today’s rapidly changing world. However, upon examining the current landscape of educational technology, we can’t but help see the considerable gap between the ideal and the reality.

The ideal of lifelong learning is rooted in the belief that learning extends beyond traditional educational settings. Rather than engaging in formal learning that “counts” (i.e. transcripts, degrees, etc) only episodically and usually at or in relation to a brick-and-mortar institution, lifelong learning is about acquiring knowledge, skills, and competencies throughout one’s life, driven by personal and professional needs. This concept has never been more relevant than in our current era of rapid technological advancement and information overload.

Yet that last word in the last sentence is the exact problem with most edtech offerings: overload. People are busy. We all know this, but this understanding is not reflected in actual products. Too much of what’s out there assumes the adult learner has infinite time to sit in front of a screen for hours at a time.

At Bedrock, everything – the courses, serious games, and intelligence feeds – is designed to be engaged with in the 5- to 20-minute seams we have in our days, whether that is between tasks, during a commute, etc. That’s time that almost all of us have. And it can be filled with high-quality, sticky, and assessed learning that then feeds into the user’s Bedrock learning record.

What else is different about Bedrock, from the learner’s perspective? As you’ve already picked up from reading this and our first entry, we don’t simply offer courses. Games and intelligence feeds too offer valuable learning experiences for professional learners that are largely ignored by existing edtech offerings. And we’ll explain more about what we mean about all of these (what courses, games, and intelligence look like and mean to Bedrock) in future posts.

But suffice it to say, all of these can be linked together. If someone is taking an eLearning course on information security, for example, why can’t the learning objectives also be served and reinforced by an information security game (and no we aren’t talking about chocolate-covered broccoli, but truly engaging games)? Why can’t they also read intelligence on the latest hacks of governments and major corporations? Combining courses, games, and intelligence feeds allow us to provide more powerful learning experiences than anything else out there.

Next, Bedrock is designed to offer rich experiential learning, which is basically a fancy way of saying learning by doing. There are important studies across disciplines that show that experiential learning techniques enhance learner retention. We are designing even our courses and intelligence streams to be experiential, but I want to especially emphasize the importance of serious games as a pillar of Bedrock. These are educational games. They are designed to replicate the scenarios, dilemmas, and challenges people face throughout their careers. This is, at its heart, experiential learning. And games will be a main topic on a forthcoming post.

Next, there’s the social element.

Some people might see gaming, courses, and intelligence as too much, as separate companies or separate products, as unrealistic. But that’s simply wrong.

Education is social. Socializing is learning. Gaming is education. Gaming is social. And, of course, the social can be experiential. We know this to be true in the physical world. It is also true in the virtual world. And that’s what Bedrock does. Everything in Bedrock is fundamentally collaborative. Whether a learner is in a course, a game, or consuming an intelligence feed, that person will have the opportunity to do so with other learners interested in the same issues and problems. That’s what makes Bedrock far greater than the sum of its parts. That’s what drives the network effects.

Bedrock also overcomes a problem that plagues most learning delivered online: It’s terribly boring. At its worst, eLearning is pure drudgery that we are all desperate to click through as quickly as possible whenever we are unlucky enough to encounter it. At best, it’s “chocolate-covered broccoli,” a now common analogy that refers to educational content with superficially engaging or entertaining elements, while the underlying material remains uninteresting or unengaging. As Amy Bruckman memorably wrote, “Learning isn’t an unpleasant core that you need to hide in a chocolate coating. Learning can be fun in itself.” And learning can be fun without sacrificing its credibility, seriousness, and stickiness. And that’s what we deliver on Bedrock.

Last, but not least, Bedrock is changing what learning counts and how that information can travel with the learner, empowering the individual throughout new assignments and career changes. Traditionally, formal education in or directed by a brick-and-mortar institution has been the cornerstone of what is considered “legitimate” learning. The lifelong learning perspective broadens this scope. Valuable learning occurs in myriad contexts throughout life, not just within the walls of traditional educational institutions. Bedrock is designed as an engine for this, and it’s centered on the learning record.

This is in line with industry standards, so this one is less about how Bedrock is fundamentally different than other edtech offerings, but how it is delivering on these standards much more ambitiously. Every learner’s record of accomplishments, skills, badges, and certifications in Bedrock is designed to be exportable, transferable, and validated, accompanying a learner throughout their life. This can serve a variety of purposes for career advancement and changes. In a future post on this blog, my co-founder Rick talks about how we do this through interoperable data standards, such as the Experience API (xAPI), so stay tuned for that.

We will offer more thoughts on all these matters in future blog posts, so please stick with us.

Key Takeaways

  • Edtech has failed to deliver on the vision of the Age of Lifelong Learning. Bedrock is changing that for professional education.
  • Learning should be designed to fit into your life, not disrupt it; serve it, not overload it.
  • Digital learning ought to be more than just courses. That’s why Bedrock also offers games and intelligence feeds.
  • The best learning is experiential, and that’s what’s built into our learning design, especially but not only in our games.
  • Learning is social in the real-world. It needs to be social online too.
  • Substantive learning can, and ought to be, fun and engaging; not a dull chore or chocolate-covered broccoli.
  • The learning you do should count, and Bedrock’s inter-operable learning records ensure that is what happens.