Is your learning experience as basic as 90s dial up?

As a member of generation X, I have witnessed so much change in the digital landscape over the past four decades.

I vividly remember being a kid and Dad bringing home the Commodore 64 from his work so I could play games on the weekend. Having to press play on tape in order to play California Games was something I will always remember. Soon after, the tape was replaced by a floppy disk, then a CD rom, DVD and so on. Using an Apple II at school was quickly replaced by an Apple Mac. I then had my mind blown when seeing a friend using Windows when I had just got using DOS! Then the unforgettable chirps and screeching filled all of our homes as we waited in anticipation for that one email to appear! 

From Web 1.0 to 2.0

Many of us have witnessed so many changes and innovations in our time so far, but there’s another important shift that for most of us, came along a little unnoticed or perhaps we were unaware of just how much of an impact it would have on every aspect of our lives. 

  • In the beginning, Web 1.0 was quite restrictive, and few had the ability to produce content. To do so, they would have to register domains, set up content management systems and find web hosting services. Basically, it was much more difficult to publish online content and less people did it.
  • In the late 90’s and early noughties, the term Web 2.0 was used to describe a change in how websites were designed and how people potential authors could produce and publish content online. Web 2.0 ushered in technology like blogs, wikis and online hosting. Content went from being published by a limited few, to being open to anyone who had something to say.

This gave birth to what we all know today as social media. Twitter and Facebook in particular took the innovations of Web 2.0 and refined them to the point where we see hundreds of millions of users contributing content to vast communities every day.

The way we learn has radically changed

Whilst Web 2.0 opened things up and gave us the ability to create and access content in whatever way we chose, learning systems have generally remained static in their nature. We still have learning content created by a few people for a wide audience. We are still learning like we are stuck in the days of Web 1.0! 

As content developers, instructional designers and learning managers, we do our best to make learning content as palatable as possible. A whole industry has formed based on the concept of “you have to do it, so we will try and make it as painless as possible”. 

We use authoring tools and adopt various trends to make our static content feel as dynamic as we can, adding interactivity, click and reveals, animations, videos and so on. This is still a variant on the same theme, Web 1.0.

Today, people choose what channels they use, to chat, learn and interact with the world. They go to YouTube for a tutorial, follow folks on Instagram or Pinterest for visual inspiration. They socialise and collaborate using platforms like Facebook or Workplace and chat tools like Skype, Slack or Yammer. Then of course, we just ‘Google’ it for everything else we need to know.  The way people find information is open, mostly unrestricted and is the actual representation of how they choose to learn. 


Changing our thinking can help cater for the way our people actually choose to learn, shifting away from the Web 1.0 days. Our future posts will explore how this is being done and share some tips and ideas.