Knolskape is pioneering experiential learning in the digital age
By SASHE KANAPATHI
We’ve all heard of the “digital age” – it is after all one of many buzzwords. However, most people seem to use the word without a full comprehension of what it means.
For mainstream society, the “digital age” pretty much started with the mass market availability of the personal computer in the late 70s and early 80s. It’s nothing particularly new anymore. What we need to turn our thoughts to is the “digital mindset”.
A digital mindset isn’t about the technologies that define our world today (e.g. the Internet of Things, Big Data, etc), but instead, is about attitudes that allow individuals and organisations to see the possibilities of the digital age we are in (and have been in).
One area that has needed innovation, especially in the digital age, is learning and development. Gone are the days of arguing about andragogy (adult learning) vs pedagogy (child learning).
Now we look at teacher-centred vs student-centred learning. We are now comfortable with providing student-centred learning for adults (though this approach is still lacking in execution for public education) with the focus on motivation, outcomes and contextualisation.
Today, we see a slow and steady decline in lectures and one-way downloads of content. Instead, we see more and more organisations embrace experiential learning. However, the key problem organisations face is in finding good quality digital experiential learning programmes.
One company, Knolskape, has taken the next step in bringing learning and development to the digital age. Named a global top 20 learning gamification company, Knolskape is a technology company that focuses on building digital simulations/experiential learning for the development of employees.
Learning in virtual reality
Rajiv Jayaraman, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Knolskape, started the company while pursuing his MBA at INSEAD. That’s when inspiration hit him.
Being a multi-faceted individual who has made waves in Big Data work with Oracle, with a keen interest in theatre and having done social work in teaching, Rajiv was driven to combine all his talents in this endeavour.
As he explains it, he wanted to build a learning platform that is “Intensely Enjoyable, Immensely Effective, and Deeply Personal”.
Simulation-based learning is making inroads in the market today. Simulations are an effective way to “learn by doing” and to get feedback for the decisions made.
It enhances the learner’s experience and interest in learning and makes it contextual. Furthermore, it provides for a safe environment for learners to make mistakes.
However, digital simulations is a whole new ballgame and there are not many training organisations that have the capability to combine digital expertise, gamification elements, instructional design skill and learning know-how to create digital simulations. I consider it simulations-on-steroids!
Knolskape provides simulations that are available anytime and anywhere for individuals in organisations to learn at their own pace. It ups the intensity of the experience as the learner is interacting with various variables in a fully simulated environment that is more complex and more engaging, all through a virtual world.
What’s more, deep insights can be gleaned through analysis of the learner’s actions. Post-simulation reports provide feedback on the complex decision-making of the learner and provides a very personalised development assessment. They have been able to unpack the power of computing and bring it to the forefront of learning and development.
Furthermore, digital simulations allow for gamification, which leverages the learner’s desire for socialising and learning through competition and achievement.
Interestingly, most opponents of gamification criticise the simplification of rewards and a lack of storytelling and experiences. However, Knolskape’s digital simulations provide for that as well through engaging storylines, and prove to be a great example of contextualised gamification.
The true power of the simulation comes from how closely it mimics the real world.
The closer we get to reality, the more the participants will be able to reap maximum benefits from their interactions with the virtual world by making decisions that correlate with the real world. As such, Knolskape provides many simulations with a variety of learning objectives across the fields of leadership, sales, technology, finance and many more.
Practice makes perfect
Rajiv shared his understanding of simulations in a very simple way, and it sent home a powerful message that resonated with me. He asked, “How does a pilot become a good pilot?”
Obviously, it isn’t by reading piloting manuals. Those are pre-requisites. That is just content. A pilot becomes a good pilot by going through countless hours of flight simulations. The same applies to a surgeon, where they practise on cadavers.
So why should we not apply the same principle in other competencies with regards to running an organisation? I believe that question irrevocably ushers in the age of the digital simulation for leadership and other competencies required for organisations to succeed and thrive in this new world.
A couple of months ago, I began to interact closely with Knolskape and its leaders. I learnt some amazing insights on technology and learning. One key learning is that “nothing should remain stagnant.” For years, we assumed that the training industry was in great shape.
And no one did anything about it. Yet, there is decay seeping into every industry and function.
Every industry needs to constantly reinvent and renew itself.
Watching Knolskape attempt to renew the training industry with its foray into creating digital simulations, inspired me to question every assumption and long-held belief I had on the effectiveness and impact the training industry has had in the past few years.
The world is changing. We need to change too. I believe that digital simulations lead the charge when it comes to change in the training and learning landscape for tomorrow’s leaders.
Sashe Kanapathi is the director of learning at Leaderonomics. He is looking forward to Leaderonomics’ partnership with Knolskape to bring digital simulations to Malaysia and other Asian nations. He wishes to continue to disrupt the training space with more innovative new approaches and services that will ensure organisations become more productive and purposeful. To engage with Sashe, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org