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The Digital Transformation of Learning

Abstract and Figures

We are approaching a point in time where the rapid acceleration of technology related to education, course development and learning has produced large amounts of content and knowledge concepts within fingertip reach of learners of all ages providing they have access to the Internet and a computer or mobile device. Learning to learn and acquiring the skills necessary to search and, more importantly, curate the numerous sources to select just the right information and/or to interact with just the right subject-matter-expert (SME) at just the right time is critical. Creating the right digital platform which easily connects all elements of the education ecosystem in a seamless manner and, more importantly, allows the analysis and evaluation of the interactions of all the elements of that ecosystem will help us to understand the interconnected nature of learning; all learning (individual, network, and organizational). Hence the idea of a “Collaboratory” for learning and problem solving and what came to be called the “Epic Challenge” program were conceived. The Collaboratory is a start at developing a framework to capture experiences and study the learning process and to inspire and motivate the next generation of scientists and engineers. The Collaboratory would serve as a test bed to experiment with different pedagogies for learning (e.g., inquiry-based, problem-based, and phenomenon-based) and their effectiveness with students and for solving real-world problems of epic proportions by applying the concepts they learn.
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Why we need another “Apollo Effect”
We are approaching a point in time where the rapid acceler-
ation of technology related to education, course develop -
ment and learning has produced large amounts of content
and knowledge concepts within ngertip reach of learners
of all ages providing they have access to the Internet and a
computer or mobile device. Learning to learn and acquiring
the skills necessary to search and , more importantly, curate
the numerous sources to select just the right information
and/or to interact with just the right subject-matter-expert
(SME) at just the right time is critical.
According to George Siemens (ref. 1), know- how and know-
what are being replaced by know-where and by what I
contend will be the know-whos (just the right person with
just the r ight information at just th e right time) easily found
and connected through a ubiquitous network. The ability
to search and curate necessar y information eectively, is
a critical skill for autonomous learning. In addition, to be
able to understand and to apply that knowledge to solve
real-world problems will be one of the keys to enabling
a digital disruption in the elds of education, workforce
development, and complex problem solving.
Creating the right digital platform which easily connects
all elements of the ecosystem in a seamless manner and,
more importantly, allows the analysis and evaluation of the
interactions of all the elements of that ecosystem will help
us to under stand the interconnected nature of lear ning; all
learning (individual, network, and organizational).
Hence the idea of a “Collaboratory” for learning and problem
solving and what came to be called the “Epic Challenge”
program were conceived. The Collaboratory is a start at
developing a framework to capture experiences and study
the learning process and to inspire and motivate the next
generation of scientists and engineers. The Collaboratory
would serve as a test bed to experiment with dierent peda-
gogies for learning (e.g., inquiry- based, problem -based, and
phenomenon-based) and their eectiveness with students
and for solving real-world problems of epic proportions by
applying the concepts they learn. The Epic Challenge (e.g.,
sustaining humans on Mars) provides the inspiration and
motivation to sustain learning at higher and higher levels
in pursuit of solutions to problems related to things like
the survival of the species, world hunger, clean water, and
human colonization of the solar system. It is through re-
al-problems and context that learning becomes meaningful,
understanding is realized; and knowledge is remembered,
stored, and related to other elements of knowledge.
The digital environment can show the connected knowledge
concept landscape and easily dene the necessary connect-
ed elements, thereby highlighting the path/trajectory to
master any subject desired and how it is applied to solving
a problem of extreme interest to the student. It can also
map the multidisciplinary nature of all complex problems
and the interfaces/interactions of the associated domains
and skills needed to solve such problems. The guiding
premises being: people/students of all ages love to solve
problems; the more challenging/epic the problem the more
the student will be motivated (provided they are properly
guided); there are epic challenges in every eld to engage
and motivate learning at all levels; and systematically align-
ing a student’s personal interest/passion with the correct
challenge may provide the sustaining force necessary for
them to realize their potential.
Individual life-long learning, learning as part of a connected
network of learners and how the nodes/knowledge/people
on those networks relate and interact to enable organi-
zational learning will become the lifeblood of workforce
development and eective learning organizations. More
importantly, although most of the technology is either
availab le and mature or will become so soon, whether or not
and how that technology is adopted within an established
ecosystem will be critical (ref. 2).
Keywords: Digital Transformation of Learning, Phenomenon-Based Learning, Workforce
Development, Digital Workplace, Adaptive Learning, Innovative Problem Solving
Audience: This white paper is aimed at CIOs, CHROs, CEOs, and other per-
sons responsible for learning and development in organizations.
16 December 2015
About the authors
Janne Hietala started his own consulting company
at the age of 21. With Arcusys he has been leading
the company’s commercial operations since 2008.
Since 2010, he has been spearheading the Valamis
- Learning Experience Platform development and
commercialization of Finnish EdTech for global mar-
kets. Janne was selected as a Young Entrepreneur of
the Year in 2012. Currently he is working towards the
Digital Transformation of Learning vision with leading
global organizations by leveraging the most import-
ant learning technologies like social learning, mobile
learning, OpenBadges, Experience API, gamication
and learning analytics.
Charles Camarda received his undergraduate degree in
Aerospace Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute
of Brooklyn in 1974. Upon graduation, he began work
at NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC), received
his M.S. from George Washington University in Me-
chanical Engineering in 1980 and a Ph.D. in Aerospace
Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in
1990. He was Head of the Thermal Structures Branch
at LaRC and led the structures and materials eorts
of two national programs: The National Aero-Space
Plane (N ASP) and the Single-Stage-to Orbit Program
(SSTO). He was selected to be an Astronaut in 1996
and ew on the Return-to-Flight mission of the Space
Shuttle following the Columbia Accident, STS-114,
in 2005. He was selected as Director of Engineering
at JSC in December 2005 and is now the Sr. Advisor
for Engineering Development at NASA’s Langley Re-
search Center.
Table of contents
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................... 2
About the authors .................................................................................................................................... 3
Digital transformation ............................................................................................................................. 5
Digital transformation in media .................................................................................................. 5
Digital transformation in manufacturing ................................................................................... 6
Digital transformation in education ...........................................................................................8
Workforce Development ....................................................................................................................... 11
Case: NASA ....................................................................................................................................12
Digital Learning Experience Platform ................................................................................................ 14
Case: Collaboratory - solving the most Epic Challenges facing humanity ......................... 15
Key Findings - What your organization should expect
from Digital Transformation of Learning .......................................................................................... 17
Concluding Remarks .............................................................................................................................. 18
References ............................................................................................................................................... 19
Digital transformation in media
Source: Bryan Cheung, Liferay Keynote, LRNAS 2013. (ref. 3
Source: Bryan Cheung, Liferay Keynote, LRNAS 2013. (ref. 3
Digital transformation is happening in various elds related to media, communication, manu-
facturing and digital workplace in general. We can identify the key patterns in the industries in
which this has already happened and apply the evidence-based information to help understand
the digital transformation of learning.
We can follow patterns from transformations of media and
manufacturing to the digital era as shown in gure 1. It
was expected, that the Internet would continue the trend
in media development by allowing even broader reach as
shown by the lower right quadrant of gure 1. However,
the advent of mobile and cloud services caused the trend
to shift from impersonal to personal interactions as shown
by (the shaded curve of mobile and cloud mentions in the
up pe r rig ht quadra nt of gu re 1) an d as depi ct ed in gu re 2.
The digital transformation of media actually made a very
unexpected turn, requiring a major strategy shift from
media organizations. This took many media organizations
by surprise and required a transformation of their business
model from mass reach and impersonal to a very per sonal-
ized digital communication with mass reach (ref. 3).
Limited Reach
Mass Reach
Use of the term “marketing” according to Google
1800 1850 1950 2010
One on One
Local Ad
Limited Reach Mass Reach
Mobile &
Digital transformation in manufacturing
The term “ Industry 4.0”, as described by reference 4 “orig-
inates from a project in the high-tech strategy of the Ger-
man government, which promotes the computerization
of manufacturing. As shown in gure 3, the rst industrial
revolution mobilized the mechanization of production using
water and steam power. The second industrial revolution
then introduced mass production with the help of electric
power, followed by the digital revolution and the use of
electronics and IT to further automate production.” (ref. 4)
Researchers at th e Faculty of Behavioral Resea rchers at Cen-
ter for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research at
University of Helsinki distinguish the historical development
process of work and production in chronological order to
ve development stages: craft,mass production, process
enhancement, mass customization, and the co-conguration
(ref. 5). Kickstarter and maker-culture have taken co-con-
guration one step further into co-creation and co-funding
of new products. The trend of producing something in
larger quantities has suddenly jumped towards much more
personal, individual experience where end customer can
be part of almost whole life-cycle of an product and get it
when he or she needs it in the quantity required.
While emergence of Industry 4.0 continues to thrive, the
maker generation creates and shifts the paradigm (e.g.,
going from mass production into digitally distributed manu-
facturing of custom single products). Technology advances
Kickstarter and maker-culture have taken
co-conguration one step further into
co-creation and co-funding of new
Source: Gartner (February 2015)
in additive manufacturing is transforming several industries,
such as spare parts manufacturing. The Maker movement
has had an impact on open source hardware and has grown
into work swarm initiatives like reference 6, Open Source
Ecology - Civilization Starter Kit .
The nature of work has changed dramatically when moving
from Industry 1.0 to Industr y 4.0 and the change acceler-
ating as we speak. As the work environment is changing
and becoming more complex, it also requires new work
procedures from the employees.
Gartner discusses about dierent scenarios to help visualize
the future workplace. They recommend “for IT leaders and
business leaders an open, organizational discussion on the
changing nature of work, workforce demographics and
the impact of emerging workplace technologies.” (ref. 7)
This discussion includes an aspect on how the work is al-
located in an organization. Figure 4: Characteristics of the
vertical axis represents the way an enterprise organizes
its work. “Those with a uid organizing model encourage
people to participate in enterprise social networks, commu-
nities and projects, based on their interests and passions.
Enterprises with a traditional corporate structure simply
assign people to projects.” (ref. 7)
Fluid Organizing Model
Traditional Corporate
Indust rial Revolutio n
based on the introdu c-
tion of mechanical
production equipment
driven by water and
steam power
Industrial Revolution
based on mass production
achieved by division of labor
concept and the use of
electrical energy
Indust rial Revolutio n
based on the use of
electronic s and IT to
furthe r automate
Indust rial Revolutio n
based on the use of
cyber-physical systems
Degree of complexi ty
1800 1900 2000 Today TIME
Digital Transformation in Education
Higher education is facing a crisis as evidenced by both
declining enrollment and retention rates. Massive Online
Open Courses (MOOCs), once envisioned to disrupt higher
education by providing a seemingly endless supply of high
qualit y education to the masses, have failed to realize their
projected potential. In fact, Gartner (ref. 8) says “MOOC is
o the Hy pe Cyc le beca use we de emed it Obso le te Befo re
Plateau in terms of a sustainable business model in 2014.”
The digital transformation of education has become more
elusive than originally thought. Online universities faced
the same challeng es as their brick an d mortar counterparts.
Retention rates, while initially relatively high due to a
much broader reach, have started to decline even faster
than traditional, in-classroom education. It is not enough
for long-term transformation to simply put out massive
amounts of courses and lessons and expect students to
stay engaged and motivated to complete them.
The Finnish education system has been the proving ground
for advanced pedagogy. It is known throughout the world
to be ecient and eective. Phenomenon-based learning
was introduced into the national curriculum on an experi-
mental basis in 2010. It combines aspects of problem-based
learning, explorative learning, and project-based learning.
The leading education researchers in Finland recognized
that, even though the Finnish education system was rank-
ing top in the PISA studies (OECD, PISA - Finland: Slow and
Steady Reform for Consistently High Results, 2010 (ref.
9)), further change in pedagogy was needed to take full
advantage of the digital transformation. The digital trans-
formation and the way students currently interact and share
information was recognized and is reected in the current
PISA requirements criteria which focus more on individual
learning skills, critical thinking, and collaborative learning.
Phenomenon-based learning is being recognized nationally
and will become the primary curriculum in Finland starting
in 2016. It has shown promise in increasing both student
retention as well as student engagement.
Karlgren et al. (ref. 10) dene that in order to manage
changes in the society and in the work life, new types of
competencies, such as collaborative learning, self-leader-
ship and exibility, are needed. Educators need models
and support for developing teaching methods with digital
technologies which aim at supporting students’ innovation
skills and digital competence but are not too challenging to
apply. Karlgren et al. state that the digital tools introduced
were considered helpful; using numerous separate tools
also creates certain challenges.
Daniel Pink (ref. 11) has expressed what he believes are
the requirements for motivation in the 21st century to be:
autonomy, mastery and purpose. These three requirements
also apply to learning and, by chance, these are all major
issues with the current model of education and may oer
some reasons why MOOC’s have failed. Phenomenon-based
learnin g addresses all three key areas for motivat ion and can
possibly explain the recent increase in student engagement.
In phenomenon-based learning, context and problem solv-
ing are brought back to the learning process and students
are allowed much more autonomy and responsibility for
dening the structure and topic of the course. Students
are able to choose areas of study that are important to
them on a personal level and as a group.
The teacher’s role in phenomenon-based learning is to act as
a coach, guiding students through the learning process and
addressing possible gaps and weaknesses in their learning
skills. This “Teacher/Educator-as-a-Coach” idea ts nicely
with identifying preferential learning styles and abilities and
connecting the students with the necessary “Student-Cen-
tric Learning” (ref. 2) format which will accelerate their
progress/growth. Phenomenon-based learning is usually
applied as a collaborative learning process. Social learning
and learning in a group have proven to be more eective
ways of gathering new knowledge and skills, where part
of the group can choose to specialize in one or a selected
number of specic topics more deeply.
As phenomenon-based learning brings context back to
the learning process, we have seen an increase in student
engagement. The more connected the phenomenon is on
a personal level, the more the student is engaged. There
is also a direct correlation between the level of challenge
(“epicness” of the problem) being solved to stu dent engage-
ment. Students, like “gamers”, want to feel they are part
of something bigger than themselves, to change the world
for the better whatever the underlying motivation (e.g.,
social, technological, medical, environmental, etc.) (ref. 12).
In 2008, Dr. Charles Camarda initiated a program for teach-
ing engineers to creatively solve complex problems (ref.
13), which uses a strategy specically developed for the
program called Innovative Conceptual Engineering Design
(ICED). The inspira tion for the progra m came from the Space
Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003 and the need to rapidly
work tow ards a su ccessfu l return-t o-igh t strateg y for the
Space Shuttle Program (ref. 14). Two astronauts worked
“under the radar” in a small garage/lab space to develop
innovative solutions for the in-orbit repair of a damaged
reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) wing leading edge (it was
determined that a piece of foam debris struck Columbia’s
port wing leading edge, critically damaging it and causing
the vehicle to be destroyed during the entry heating phase
of ig ht). Th ey were abl e to rapidl y prototype, tes t, an d fail
multiple times, evaluating numerous design ideas fast and
furiously, discover, learn and improve their ideas quickly.
This model/method of working is related to swarm work pat-
terns and other rapid innovation models. The environment
was psychologically safe and “failure was not an option,
but a requirement”. This strategy for innovative problem
solving was further developed into the ICED-methodology
(refs. 13 and 15). Results from t he original one -week course
at Penn State led to dozens of innovative solutions to the
proposed “Epic” challenge, developing a safe land landing
system for the Orion Space capsule. One of the ideas was
selected for further study by a small team of student s from
MIT and Penn State. Results from that study (g. 5) led to
a feasible solution to the land landing of a space capsule,
called a “ Personal Airbag”, which saved considerable mass
and increased in-orbit habitable volume (ref. 16).
An Epic Challenge Program was conceived as a year-long
learning project immersing students and engineers into
the epic challenge at hand and building cross-disciplinary
teams from dierent levels of education trying to solve
it (gure 6). The program, as described in a presentation
at the Siemens PLM Analysts Meeting in Boston, 2014,
attacks several impediments to learning and innovative
problem solving: motivation, culture, and recognition of
the importance of failure in the learning process (ref. 17).
The organizational framework and ecosystem of the Epic
Challenge Program is purposefully designed to include
students of all ages (e.g., graduate, undergraduate, high-
school and middle-school students), faculty, educators,
subject-matter-experts (SMEs), technical assistants (TAs),
peer- and near-peer mentors, and role model s. Students of
all ages can immerse themselves into whatever aspect of
the “Epic” challenge they so desire, and learn at whatever
level, and whatever pace they choose. The challenges are
selected to be complex, multidisciplinary and expansive in
breadth and, thus encompassing learning opportunities in
a variety of multiple domains or subject areas.
When a similar working environment and culture were
achieved by the students (virtually and in the classroom),
as previously with the engineers working with the Return-
to-Flight challenge, the results were often groundbreaking
as shown in gure 5 (ref. 16).
When the collaboration wit h Finnish learnin g technology ex-
perts and NA SA started an Ep ic Challenge, it was quickly con-
cluded that the ICED-methodology and Phenomenon-Based
Learning had a lot of similarities and ICED was nicely suited
as a strategy to combine a new learning pedagogy with a
hands-on, innovative problem solving methodology. One
important addition this year, is that phenomenon-based
learning is being applied using a virtual platform, which
integrates a scientic framework and ability to measure
and analyze the eectiveness of learning (ref. 18).
In his book “Disrupting Class” (ref. 2), Harvard Business
Professor Clayton Christensen identies some of the key
agents/elements operating within the education ecosys-
tem and suggests several possible strategies to enable
an eective disruption and the ubiquitous application
of digital technologies for educational progress. Some
of the attributes of digital learning and how they can be
eectively applied to enable a revolution/disruption in
education include:
“Student-Centric” Learning (SCL) - all students
learn dierently, according to Gardner (ref. 19),
and using digital learning technologies and com-
puter-based learning (CBL) will enable learners to select
preferential learning modalities best suited to enhance and
accelerate their performance. Teachers acting like coaches/
guides can facilitate and customize the learning path for
individual students.
Developing a digital platform that is modular,
non-interdependent, and utilizes an open archi-
tecture will ensure compatibility with numerous
existing open source learning software products. These
platform features will help enable SCL to become a reality.
Disruptively deploying computers in potentially
new/low-consumption markets to allow time for
technology to advance in areas where it is needed
(e.g., AP courses in schools where not oered, homebound/
home-schooled population, free private tutoring, make-up
credits, etc.).
Ability to improve education research using data
analytics on the complete ecosystem at a high-
enough level to be able to ascertain actual eec-
tiveness of education (pedagogies, demographics, etc.)
and move from “descriptive” to “prescriptive” research
(where theories are well-grounded in causality and, hence
anomalies and failures can be predicted).
“Epic” Challenge
Sustainable habitation of Mars
Subject Matter Experts
Epic Challenge Program:
Organizational Framework
University Hubs
• Graduate Students
• Capstone Teams
Local High
School Hubs
• Teacher Coaches
• HS Students
Local Middle
School Hubs
Continuum of Mentoship
Cohort Group
High School
Cohort Group
High School Mentors
Middle School
Boeing, NASA, Siemens, NYU, Arcusys
Executive Advisory
Flow of Creative ideas
Un de rstan ding ho w to impr ov e the ee ctivene ss of lea rn-
ing and training is of interest to all enterprises and orga-
nizations. Ability to develop business is often related to
an organization’s ability to measure the performance of
business. Enterprises have adapted methods to measure
actual performance to expected value. These methods in-
clude examples like Key Performance Indicators, Balanced
Scorecards etc. Digital Marketing has brought tools with
which we can measure performance of the marketing, ex-
periment and do A/B testing. Digital measurement tools
allow us to experiment and fail faster to see what works
and what does not.
This transition has also aected human resource organi-
zations and workforce development within corporations.
There is now more emphasis and value on organizational
culture in the workplace. Employee satisfaction and man-
agement and leadership skills are being evaluated on a
constant basis. Yet these are more indirect observations of
an organization’s capabilities and health. It is very dicult to
measure an organization’s culture or capability for change.
Yet, in today’s business environment, the ability to change
and adapt your business and organizational capability is a
requirement for survival.
The digital economy is forcing organizations to remaster old
business models. Gart ner states that “in order to tra nsform
the business, people need to work dierently because the
old ways of working no longer add the value they once did.”
(ref 20). Supporting the formation of teams and bringing
in the subject-matter experts at the right time is critical
for enabling faster problem solving and pattern-sensing
st ra te gies. This cre ates a re qu irement for a mo re eec ti ve
approach for dening competencies and capabilities than
just relying on an individual’s CV/resume. To drive rapid
solutions to complex problems requires connecting with
just the right person that has exactly the right expertise at
just the right time (the “Know-Who” with the “Know-How”)
(ref. 21). Work swarms are often partially external, m eaning
that the team will be working in ad-hoc collaboration with
experts outside the parent organization. Teamwork and
collaboration is emphasized over individual activities having
similar patterns with development of educational models.
The emerging patterns indicate, that the processes of
digital work and digital learning are overlapping, meaning
that the technologies supporting these activities need to
be fully integrated and transparent experience.
Building and maintaining a successful digital business re-
quires more than just a technology. As the nature of work
is changing, organizations need to create new strategies
to support digitalization. HR and IT management need to
work closely together in order to integrate technology and
digitalization smoothly into the organizational culture. Only
after employees have truly adopted the digital mindset,
it is possible to take full advantage of technology when
answering to the current and future challenges brought
by the digitalization.
In addition, accurate digital portfolios of student/employee
accomplishments based on validated certicates/badges,
achieved by applying learning to directly solve real-world
challenges/problems, will help ensure a successful match
for employee/employer and a reduction in early attrition
and signicant nancial loss.
Digital transformation of learning is applying positive
pressure for organizations to analyze and improve their
workforce development models. This is creating eective
learning processes, motivating and engaging the employees;
and being able to measure and analyze the learning success
in determined metrics will be one of the critic al success fac-
tors in the future. Being able to co nstantly learn and create
new, innovative ways of improve workforce development
will create a massive competitive advantage compared to
those organizations that refuse to transform.
Workforce retirement is creating huge challenges for in-
dustries where human capital is the biggest resource. In
the next case, we can read how NASA is attempting to
solve this problem.
in today’s business environment, the abili-
ty to change and adapt your business and
organizational capability is a requirement
for survival.
Case: NASA
NA SA is both simila r and di erent to large, mu lti -nati onal,
high-tech companies such as Boeing with respect to its
workforce makeup and development needs. NASA is a
government organization with slightly over 17,000 civil
service employees. NASA typically develops one-of-a-kind,
high-tech solutions to unique and challenging aerospace
problems (e.g., Mars rovers, Space Shuttles, the Hubble
Space Telescope, etc.). Boeing Commercial Aerospace, for
example, relies on a large network of employees, suppliers,
and product developers from around the world to develop
and integrate components to manufacture and sell su-
ciently large numbers of similar aircraft to capture market
share and realize a sucient prot or return on investment
(ROI). While NAS A is not a multinati onal corporatio n, it does
work on some of the world’s most challenging problems
with partners from around the world (e.g., the constr uction
of the International Space Station which was successfully
constructed in orbit, working with over 15 partner countries
and various government, industry, and academic entities).
The workforce demographic s of NASA and a typical NASA
rese arch ce nt er like Langle y is show n in gur e 8. Du e to th e
Baby-Boomer surge in birth rates and associated hiring in
aerospace during the Apollo era, NASA is experiencing a
much higher average age in its workforce compared to the
rest of the United States and a surge of those employees
retiring. The average age at NASA LaRC is 50 years old
and over 85% of the current workforce is over 40 years
old. A large percentage of the employees at research cen-
ters have degrees in science and engineering (S&E) (e.g.,
approximately 65% of employees at LaRC work in S&E). In
addition, a very large percentage of our experienced en -
gineers and scientists will be retiring in the coming years
(60% of all employees eligible to retire today come from
S&E backgrounds).
Maintaining a technically excellent, high performing
team-oriented workforce is a growing concern with a de-
creasing number of STEM-qualied students graduating
wi th the sk ill s ne cessa r y to ll all th e neces sar y job ope nings
expected to be waiting for them.
NASA is also struggling with how to provide cost-eec-
tive advanced education and training for its employees.
Methods to capture lessons learned and the knowledge
and expertise of world- class subject matter experts (SMEs)
prior to their retirement rank high on the priority list for
NASA’s workforce strategic planning committees as well
as methods for mentoring NA SA’s new hires.
For the United States to be a leader in aerospace, NASA
must return to its roots as a research and development
powerhouse which can focus on its long -term vision and
develop cutting edge use- oriented research tools an d tech-
nology. To do this, NASA must be able to attract the best
and brightest graduating engineers and scientists from a
dwindling pool of graduates. It is also imperative that NASA
be able to oer advanced education to its employees. To-
ward that end, NASA is developing partnerships with online
education providers, education technology developers, and
learning scientists to co-create advanced courses and to
develop th e tools to conduct the data analytics to assess th e
e ec tivenes s of th e cours es deve lo ped . It is also mea suring
the ability of its employees to apply the knowledge gained
to solve real challenges the Agency is facing. The “Collab-
oratory”, described in a later section, is being developed
to provide such a collaborative work environment where
swarms/teams of researchers can immerse themselves in
challenges and connect with the information and people
necessary to learn and to help conceive timely solutions.
While NASA is similar to high-tech aerospace companies
like Boeing, with it s need for a high percentage of sustain-
ing engineers, it must also develop a high percentage of
senior-level research engineers and scientists that have
an advanced “research”-level understanding of the various
domains and can conduct research and development studies
and advanced modeling and simulation tool development.
One such Space Act Agreement (SAA) with Boeing and MIT/
edX will develop the rst in a series of courses in systems
engineering entitled: “Introduction to Model-Based Systems
Enginee ring.” It is hoped that the use of S MEs from indus try
and NA SA will add context and real-world experien ce to the
academic material to engage, inspire and motivate and to
highlight and demonstrate the acquired skills.
NASA must be able to attract the best
and brightest graduating engineers and
scientists from a dwindling pool of
The pressure to improve learning experience online has
existed for a while. The traditional Learning Management
Systems (LMS) have focused on managing online courses
or instructor-led training. LMS’s originally adopted for
education have been used also in workforce development,
though the user experience has been poor and focus has
been more on learning content interoperability. The emer-
gence of new standards such as Experience API (x API, also
known as TinCan API), Open Badges and LTI (Learning
Tools Interoperability) has expanded the interoperability
standards support outside the LMS scope. Managing digital
portfolios and capturing learning experiences to Learning
Record Stores are appearing as the tip of the iceberg of
Digital Transformation of Learning.
Talent management and human competence management
business areas have created a domain of enterprise software
vendors. Many of th ese software vendors have started from
Enterprise Learning and expanded towards career manage-
ment and other human resource related functionalities. This
need has been driven by organizations needing to nd and
identify top talent, from a recruitment perspective, with
less emphasis on learning and development.
Th e 70 :20: 10 con ce pt (gu re 8) has bee n trans fo rmati on al
in combining the dierent approaches to managing digital
learning experiences. The model denes that 10% of learn-
ing is formal, 20% is learning by coaching or mentoring and
70% is learning by doing . The concept of social learning has
gained momentum by trying to capture better the learn-
ing happening in informal scenarios. Many organizations
struggling with an aging workforce as described above are
scrambling to capture the hidden tacit knowledge in the
most senior workers before losing forever to retirement
the experience gained.
There are various initiatives and concepts supporting social
knowledge transfer and capture in digital domain. Con-
cepts like gamication, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing
and valuation, micro credentials and adaptive learning are
adaptive learning are used by leading analyst organiza-
tions as the most important learning technologies in 2015.
These partially address the engagement issues in digital
learning platform but require very careful consideration
and planning when rolling these into any organization.
The learning experience must be dened as a world-class
digital experience, which is fun and engaging to use pro-
viding ubiquitous access through all dierent devices. It
needs to follow simplistic and clutter-free design principles
where less is more.
Th e digit al appr oa ch den es a requ ir ement that it ne eds to
scale to hundreds of thousands or even millions of users.
These users might be located on several dierent conti-
nents and in several time zones and use dierent devices
to access the platform.
70% 20% 10%
Learning by doing
learning by coaching
or mentoring
learning is formal
The Learning Experience Platform (ref. 18) is converging the three approaches
to a unied digital platform:
It is a virtual environment where the individual chooses to work in the digital domain connecting
to experts around the world when required to solve engaging problems.
It is an environment where you constantly learn informally, formally and you are being coached
in a socially engaging environment.
It is a platform where competencies and capabilities can be dened, measured, analyzed, and
transformed from an individual level all the way through to an organizational level.
Case Collaboratory -
solving the most Epic Challenges facing humanity
The discovery of large amounts of water on Mars has in-
creased the probability of sustaining humans on Mars and
is creating signicant global interest in space almost rem-
iniscent of the Space Race and the Apollo Program. The
successful exploration of another planet which can sustain
a growing colony of humans is an epic challenge which can
have huge benets for humanity on Earth in very important
ways. Similar eects on science and engineering graduate
rates, patents , and the economy, such as those seen during
the “Space Race” (gure 10), can be realized in our near
future if we so choose to embark on the next great chal-
lenge, the colonization of Mars. The space race of the 50s
and 60s had a slightly delayed but very identiable eect
on the retention and graduation rates bet ween 1975 and
1980 (gure 9).
Currently interest and graduation rates in STEM (science,
technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects is at
an all time low and declining. For some industries like
aerospace, a large percentage of employees are eligible
for retirement and this number is increasing. Drastic mea-
sures and complete reform would required to supply the
workforce demand. It is almost at a point, where we need
another “Apollo Eect” increase the STEM graduation rates.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to take advantage of
another epic engineering challenge: sustaining humans
on Mars.
During the space race and the Apollo Program, the world
was a very dierent place: a) there was tremendous ten-
sion and pressure for both countries involved (the US and
USSR) creating an intense sense of competition motivated
by fear (fueled by the Cold War), ideology (democracy vs.
communism), technical bragging rights, etc.; b) the goal
of landing a person on the surface of the Moon could be
accomplished within the budget of one of the large nations
(US or USSR); c) the programs required to solve such “Epic”
problems utilized systems engineering and program man-
agement structures which were very hierarchical in nature
and dominated by rules, processes, and procedures; and d)
without the internet, most communication and interactions
were physical and contained to local geographic boundaries.
If we so desire to take on the Mars challenge at this time,
the world and the technology is very dierent: a) knowl-
edge and learning is much more autonomous and can be
easily acquired online; b) with the advent of the internet
and gaming, the nature of work, as mentioned earlier, is
changing toward online work swarms with a very at or-
ganizational structure; c) sending humans to Mars will be
so complex and expensive that it will require the collabo-
ration of multiple countries to be successful (much like the
cooperative nature needed to complete the International
Space Station (ISS); and d) it will be a global collaborative/
cooperative venture which will serve to unite countries and
cultures around the world.
NAS A is currently working with top industr y and academic
partners in order to develop a virtual platform for the Epic
Challenge research program. The project aims to renew,
expand and modernize the NASA Epic Challenge program
using a virtual platform (called the Collaboratory) which
can be easily scaled for massive amounts of users. The
program has created a pilot environment for the Collabo-
ratory using the Learning Experience Platform approach
and in 2015 there are several multi-national teams working
virtually to nd solutions to sustainable human habitation
of Mars. This is a huge challenge that has sparked a level
of student engagement rarely seen in traditional classes.
Education research is conducted using data analytics to
understand how learning and problem solving could be
made more eective.
Using the platform, students can solve problems or chal-
lenges utilizing all the information they have learned by
individual research, from team members/peers, or from
subject-matter-experts. The teams share information re-
garding the problems and solutions and the information is
continuously curated. Utilizing phenomenon-based learning
and storytelling has had a positive eect in the way the
group of students gets immersed and engaged when solving
the problem. While they work, they are required to rapidly
analyze, design, prototype, test, fail, discover, learn, and
share results on the digital platform.
With the help of the social learning and learning analytics
functionalities, it is possible to follow up and authenticate
the learning processes of the students. The model has been
proven to be eective, since, in addition to the teaching,
the platform also suits well international interdisciplinary
research projects, where the aim is to develop new models
for innovative problem solving and team learning for the
future generations of scientists and engineers.
The virtual platform is used to allow scaling up the amount
of students, experts and teachers participating and col-
laborating to solve piece by piece one of the most epic
challenges facing humanity.
Inspired generations of scientists, engineers and explorers!
…We need a new “Epic Challenge”
• Collaboration Model (ISS)
• Not doable with one Nation’s economy
• Flat Structure/Open Engagement
• Global/Virtual
Graduate students
NASA is currently working with top in
dustry and academic partners in order to
develop a virtual platform for the Epic
Challenge research program.
Key ndings: What you or your organisation should expect
from the digital transformation of learning
There are certain emerging patterns for digital transfor-
mation of learning. Similar to the transformation of media,
the transformation of learning is taking a turn into a more
personal, on-demand-based learning. This is seen in educa-
tion as well as within organizations. Workforce development
and digital workplace initiatives are becoming the main
drivers for organizations in a need of new skills to keep up
with the rapid changes in their business.
The following key takeaways summarize how organizations
should prepare themselves for the digital transformation
of learning.
1. Utilize digitalization in all forms of learning
Learning is becoming more measurable, developable, stu-
dent centric, and goal-oriented. Deciding when and where
individuals learn is no longer time and place dependent.
Thus, accelerating learning with the help of digitalization
is becoming a critical success factor for organizations.
2. Understand the changing nature of work
Work is becoming more spontaneous, virtual, and hypercon-
nected. Also, working and learning have started to blend
in a digital transformation, which creates challenges for
many organizations. The ability to nd, curate, and share
information eectively will start accelerating development
of organization’s strategic capabilities.
3. Be prepared for rapid changes
Doing business is getting more globalized and the workforce
in several i ndustries has st arted to retire. Due to retirement,
many organizations are at risk of losing a large amount of
hidden tacit knowledge. Thus, in a rapidly changing environ-
ment, organizat ions need to be agile and able to transform
faster than ever. By properly preparing for the digitalization
of learning, organizations can raise their ability to transform
and gain competitive advantage against their competitors.
4. Launch digital workplace initiatives
Internal initiatives are in a key role when organizations
prepare themselves for a smooth transition into a digital
economy. In order to maximize the eectiveness of a dig-
ital workplace, it is critical to understand how the sources
of motivation and engagement vary between dierent
generations of workforce. By internally implementing dig-
ital workplace initiatives, it is easier for organizations to
increase employee agility, engagement, and eectiveness
in the transition.
5. Enhance organizational capability
As work is becoming more spontaneous and hypercon-
nected, organizations need to develop their organizational
capabilities to respond to the new operating model s intro-
duced by the digitalization. It is critical to engage people in
changing their mindset and behavior to suit the new ways
of working, such as working virtually in swarms. Without a
proper understanding of the digitalization and the changes
it brings along, it is challenging for the workforce to absorb
the transforming nature of work.
6. Ensure cooperation between CIOs and HR
Organiz ation CIOs and HR need to work closely together to
dene the technology capabilities for digital work, digital
learning, and digital workforce development designed to
facilitate the change. Note, that it is not enough to aim at
replicating the physical world processes, as the working
skills required in the digital domain are dierent.
7. Measure and analyze learning
Today learning and problem solving often happen in social
and informal scenarios. Whether formal or informal, it is
crucial for companies to have tools to both measure and
analyze all types of learning activities. Take into account
that the ability to measure learning will be closely tied to
the actual ability to execute.
Due to the rapid changes in the nature of work,
organiz ations need to ado pt new ways of learning, in-
novating and problem solving. Learning and working
are blending together and becoming time and place
independent, which encourages leading learning
organizations to utilize the latest learning methods
like phenomenon-based learning or gamication in
their processes. Most advanced organizations can
even create collaboratories where learners can solve
complex challenges.
In today’s high-tech world, we are inundated with
information and the question is not anymore where
we nd the ne eded in fo rmati on but ho w we util iz e it ,
with whom we use it and what is the digital pl atform
for the multilevel learning processes. Organizations
should pay attention to the selection of the digital
learning experience platform. Selecting an appro-
priate tool that fullls the future workforce needs
and the challenges that are outlined in this white
paper may prove critical for future success.
The digital transformation of learning aects all
organizations within dierent industry sectors, but
especially those ones whose biggest resources are
human capital resources and intellectual capital.
Workforce retirement is a challenge which con-
cerns many organizations’ management. How the
silent information and know-how is transferred to
next generations is another critical success factor
which should also concern industries with high l abor
Learning experience management extends outside
workforce development into their customer’s ex-
perience. The ability to measure the eectiveness
of learning creates a new set of tools for digital
marketers and digital media. Engagement design
for any digital service is a major piece of the puzzle
between the success or a failure of a service. Today,
any successful organization should be focusing on
measuring the eectiveness of learning against the
real world performance.
Oering the learners, whether they are employ-
ees or students, motivating and engaging learning
experiences which can be measured and analyzed
at the individual or group level is the solution to
creating the modern “Apollo Eect” through digital
transformation of learning.
Concluding Remarks
1. George Siemens: Connectivism – A Learning Theory for
the Digital Age.
2. Christensen, Clayton M .; Horn, Michael B.; and Johnson,
Curtis W.: “Disrupting Class - How disruptive Innovation
will Change the Way the World Learns.” McGraw Hill 2008.
3. Cheug, Bryan: “Interaction, not Integration - Relationships
are the Future of Portal Technology.” Opening Keynote:
Liferay North America Symposium, San Francisco, 2013. .
4. Wikipedia: Industry 4.0:
Industry _4.0.
5. Engeström, Yrjö: New Forms of Learning in Co- Congu -
ration Work. Journal of Workplace Learning, 2004.
6. Jakubowski, Marcin: “Open Source Ecology - Civilization
Starter Kit.” .
7. Gartner: Workplace Reimagined: Four Scenarios to Help
Visualize the Future 25 Februar y 2015.
8: Gartner: “Hype Cycle for Education” 8 July, 2015
9. OECD, PISA - Finland: Slow and Steady Reform for Con-
sistently High Results, 2010
10. Karlgren, Ilomäki, Lakkala, Meragia, Muukkonen, Toom:
“Knowledge Work Practices in Education - Two cases of
transforming pedagogical practices.” 30 August, 2015.
11. Pink, Daniel: “ The surprising Truth About What Moti-
vates Us.” Riverhead Books, 1995.
12. McGonigal, Jane: “ Reality is Broken - Why Games Make
Us Better and How They Can Change the World.” The Pen-
guin Press, 2011.
13. Camarda, Charles J.; Bilen, Sven; de Weck, Olivier, Yen,
Jeannette; and Matson, Jack: “Innovative Conceptual En-
gineering Design – A Template to Teach Problem Solving
of Complex Multidisciplinary Design Problems.” American
Society for Engineering Education Annual Exposition and
Conference, Louisville, Kentucky 2010.
14. Camarda, Charles J.*: A Return to Innovative Engineer-
ing Design, Critical Thinking and Systems Engineering. A
Keynote Address presented at The International Thermal
Conductivity Conference (ITCC) and the International Ther-
mal Expansion Symposium (ITES) in Birmingham, Alabama,
June 24-27, 2007.
15. Camarda, Charles J.; de Weck, Olivier *; and Do, Sydney:
“Innovative Conceptual Engineering Design (ICED): Creativ-
ity, and Innovation in a CDIO-Like Curriculum.” Proceedings
of the 9th International CDIO Conference, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and Harvard University School of
Engineering and Applied Sciences, Cambridge Massachu-
setts, June 9-13, 2013.
16. Do, Sydney and de Weck, Olivier: “A personal Airbag
System for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.” Paper
presented at the 62nd International Astronautical Congress,
Cape Town, SA 2011.
17. Camarda, Charles J.: “A New Strategy for Improving
Innovation, Education, and Complex Problem Solving - Kill-
ing three Birds. Siemens PLM Industry Analyst and Media
Event, Sept. 3, 2014, Bos ton, Massachusetts . https://vimeo.
co m/110187 381
18. Valamis Learning Experience Platform http://valamis.
19. Gardner, Howard: “Multiple Intelligences.” New York
Basic Books, 2006.
20. Gartner: Attention to Eight Building Blocks Ensures
Successful Digital Workplace Initiatives, 27 Februar y 2015.
21. Larsson, Andreas: “Engineering Know-Who: Why Social
Connectedness Matters to Global Design Teams.” Doctoral
Thesis, Lulea University of Technology, Department of
Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering, Division of
Computer Aided Design, 2005.
Arcusys Oy
Janne Hietala
+358 40 831 4245
Koskikatu 5 C
80100 Joensuu
NASA Langley Research Center
Hampton, VA
Dr. Charles Camarda
+1 (281) 761-4424
Arcusys Inc.
Mika Kuikka
60 State St, Boston, MA 02109
+1 (617) 959 7438
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attri-
bution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
The opinions expressed in this document represent the
current view of the authors on the issues discussed as of
the date of publication, and do not reect current ocial
NASA or U.S. Government policies or programs. Because
of chancing market conditions, authors cannot guarantee
the accuracy of any information presented after the date
of publication. This white paper is for informational pur-
poses only.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Innovative Conceptual Engineering Design (ICED) is a proposed methodology for infusing creative problem solving and innovation within a team-oriented, problem-based learning program. Implementation of the ICED methodology in this specific program attempts to solve several critical problems facing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and STEM-related careers in the US such as: the decline in enrollment and achievement in STEM degrees and careers and the early attrition of undergraduate students from STEM programs of study. The ICED program is an integrated approach to teaching basic engineering concepts and problem solving techniques focused on solving real-world, epic challenges facing society. These complex, multidisciplinary challenges provide the inspiration and integrated curriculum for multiple years of study. Results are presented for several instances of ICED courses ranging from high-school to the young practicing engineer which are focused on space exploration challenges currently facing NASA. KEY WORDS
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Formal education is challenged by emergent trends highlighting students' needs to develop competencies and abilities to use technologies for collaborative knowledge creation and innovation. We present findings from two cases in which teachers transformed their courses towards promoting students' knowledge work competencies by following the design principles of the trialogical learning approach.
Airbag-based methods for crew impact attenuation have been highlighted as a potential simple, lightweight means of enabling safe land-landings for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, and the next generation of ballistic shaped spacecraft. To investigate the feasibility of this concept during a nominal 7.62 m/s Orion landing, a full-scale personal airbag system 24% lighter than the Orion baseline has been developed, and subjected to 38 drop tests on land. Through this effort, the system has demonstrated the ability to maintain the risk of injury to an occupant during a 7.85 m/s, 0° impact angle land-landing to within the NASA specified limit of 0.5%. In accomplishing this, the personal airbag system concept has been proven to be feasible. Moreover, the obtained test results suggest that by implementing anti-bottoming airbags to prevent direct contact between the system and the landing surface, the system performance during landings with 0° impact angles can be further improved, by at least a factor of two. Additionally, a series of drop tests from the nominal Orion impact angle of 30° indicated that severe injury risk levels would be sustained beyond impact velocities of 5 m/s. This is a result of the differential stroking of the airbags within the system causing a shearing effect between the occupant seat structure and the spacecraft floor, removing significant stroke from the airbags.
Focuses on the theories and study of organizational and workplace learning. Outlines the landscape of learning in co-configuration settings, a new type of work that includes interdependency between multiple producers forming a strategic alliance, supplier network, or other such pattern of partnership which collaboratively puts together and maintains a complex package, integrating material products and services. Notes that learning in co-configuration settings is typically distributed over long, discontinuous periods of time. It is accomplished in and between multiple loosely interconnected activity systems and organizations operating in divided local and global terrains and representing different traditions, domains of expertise, and social languages. Learning is crucially dependent on the contribution of the clients or users. Asserts that co-configuration presents a twofold learning challenge to work organizations and outlines interventionist and longitudinal approaches taken.
Disrupting Class -How disruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns
  • Clayton M Christensen
  • Michael B Horn
  • Curtis W Johnson
Christensen, Clayton M.; Horn, Michael B.; and Johnson, Curtis W.: "Disrupting Class -How disruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns." McGraw Hill 2008.