mevolute consults on an individual, team, and organizational level does training for individuals and groups, and has its
digital platform for a learning organization. Tina and Tobias are experts in the learning process; they worked with global companies such as TAG Heuer, Deutsche Telekom, Accenture, and more across Europe. We decided to talk to them about why sometimes it could be challenging to adopt new technology.
Throughout history, technology has been a saviour, but also a curse. One of the best examples and one of our most pressing issues is the automobile. Moving away from carriages that have been pulled by horses, through the introduction of the combustion engine, allowed mankind to prosper. It was now possible to overcome greater distances much faster, which allowed us to trade with other communities, explore new cultures and much more. If you think about it, it also helped to protect animals and shift their standing in the world.
However, combustion engines also caused a lot of environmental harm, which people have not realised at first. Using automobiles introduced a lot of convenience, and once people are used to a certain degree of convenience, it’s hard to move away from that. And in fact, we should not move away from convenience and roll back our progress to previous evolutionary stages, but find solutions that keep the convenience whilst solving the environmental issues, in this example.
Convenience, at the same time, can also have a negative effect on mankind. If, for example, products take away the need to think deeply about a topic, we might stop experimenting or trying to figure out solutions ourselves. One could argue that the ubiquitous availability of calculators made us stop doing maths ourselves. What happens in case there is no calculator at our hand at a certain moment. Think about it.
There’s many different reasons to this. I want to mention two factors that limit our natural tendency to learn and progress in my perspective.
One is a matter of design. Being a product designer myself, this is tough for me to realise. Yet, our world has been structured more and more as society developed and grew. People get used to a certain standard how things work and expect this standard from thereon. And once things work, it makes us feel good. Just thinking about change mostly causes us to feel scared, because the future state of the change is very uncertain. We still cannot look into the future and probably (and hopefully!) will never be able to do so.
Another factor is the way we experienced learning from a young age onwards. Ask your mates which positive things they remember about their time at school. Most people would talk about school trips, sports or breaks. But actually, most of the time we are forced to learn things by hard at school, and listen to a teacher knowing that we will need to take a test in a couple of weeks time. This experience is boring most of the time, especially if you are forced to do things you are not interested in. Once we are finished with school, “learning” is perceived exactly in this way our entire life. Now ask adults to go back and learn something new. What’s their first emotional reaction that comes up?
When we want to make people learn effectively and apply their natural skill for learning, we have to cater for these two factors, amongst many others. We literally have to learn how to learn with joy again. And good design of learning experiences and technology can help do that.
Here, it is exactly the combination of the two. Design technology (the user experience) that is fun to use, and also triggers a deeper interest to use the piece of technology. Be it a physical product or a software platform. And on top of that, let’s stop recording boring video tutorials that promise you to learn sustainably by watching them. Passivity will have no learning outcomes in the long term, for most people. Learning happens when people are actively engaged. That’s why most learning happens in our daily lives, when we do our work or walk through life. Sometimes it’s the mistakes we make that have the biggest impacts on our learning.
Humans have always been creators. We use the technology from our previous generations and their developers, to develop new solutions yet again. We progress and deeply try to make our lives better. Parents know this the best. Who wants their children to live a bad life? So what do parents do? They design their world in a way that lets their children live a better life.
So let’s use our technology to make lives better. We only realise that this actually works when we are educated about the technology we have at hand and the possibility it creates compared to previous times. This unfortunately is not always the case. Among many recent examples in medicine, energy production, finance (i.e. decentralised finance, short DeFi) or other domains, a good one is the rejection of self-driving cars at the moment, to stay within the automobile realm. No one can imagine how roads can be safer when human fear in driving is taken out of the equation. Education helps, and this only works effectively with the intentionally designed learning environments (instead of attention-seeking media, for example).
I have to pick up on my last point there. It was and is tough for me to realise how people do not understand today’s speed in development of new and reliable solutions, be it products or in this case the application of artificial intelligence. So many still compare it to development processes from 100 years ago, that development must still take decades until it is ready. Yet again, it helps me to take a step back and reflect. Taking these moments for myself, looking at these stories and trying to figure out the root causes for these reactions gives me a certain peace of mind and think ahead. And that’s one of the reasons we founded our company, to design better learning experiences and use modern technology to provide this for as many people as possible, in the way it works best for them to learn and progress.
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