All Aboard the “Neo-Millennial Learning” Train

Emerging jargon in the training business includes terms such as”neo-millennial learning styles,” “mediated immersion,” and “distributed-learning communities.” Is all this just training industry obfuscation or do these new terms indicate substantive changes in the way people learn? We argue for the latter! According to Chis Dede of Harvard University we are going though a learning revolution mediated by the technology. The Internet is revolutionizing the filed of learning! Applications such as “groupware” for virtual collaboration, asynchronous threaded discussions, multi-user virtual environments, video-conferencing, and mobile, location-aware wireless devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) with embedded global positioning system (GPS) have shaken the roots of how people access new information. Research indicates that each of these media, when designed for education and learning purposes fosters particular types of interactions that enable (and undercut) various learning styles.

According to Dede three complementary developments will shape how people learn in the new-millennia:

  1. “World to the Desktop” – Provides access to distant experts and archives and enables collaborations, mentoring relationships, and virtual communities of practice. This interface is evolving through initiatives such as Web 2.0.
  2. “Alice in Wonderland” – Multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs). Participants’ avatars (self-created digital characters) interact with computer-based agents and digital artifacts in virtual contexts. The initial stages of studies on shared virtual environments are characterized by advances in Internet games and work in virtual reality.
  3. “Ubiquitous Computing” – Mobile wireless devices infuse virtual resources as we move through the real world. The early stages of “augmented reality” interfaces are characterized by research on the role of “smart objects” and “intelligent contexts” in learning and doing.
So, if you are involved in the training and development of employees in your organization you better jump aboard the neo-millennial learning train—it seems like it is already halfway out of the station!


Ben Nash is the editor-in-chief of He is the founder and chief developer of the blog, providing tech/design support as well as tips and book reviews. Ben has held many interesting jobs in his professional career, including: barista, landscaper, public policy intern, barista (again), professional horse wrangler, ski lift attendant (aka "liftie"), political science teaching assistant, marketing and sales assistant, and an ecommerce/web d...

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