Sunday, 27 April 2008

E-Learning (HRD 2008)

The E-Learning seminar was sub-titled '... will blogs, wikis, socials networks and virtual worlds change the future of learning ?'

This workshop was led by Clive Shepherd (e-learning consultant), Kate Day (Cisco) & Richard Jordan (Ernst & Young).

Here are a few quotes from the workshop handout that struck a chord.

'every user of the Web has the opportunity to become a contributor as well as a consumer, a writer as well as a reader, a teacher as well as a pupil' (Clive Shepherd)

'Using collaborative technologies, we can recreate learning environments that are based upon communities of practice and which provide the specific information that the individual or group requires to be successful' (Kate Day)

'Web 2.0 matter most for organisations not because of any intrinsic value in the technology. It matters simply because your employees of the future, your customers, will expect you to offer them an environment where interactivity and being connected are the norm..' (Richard Jordan)

I was struck by a few things:

Firstly - as the sub-title of the seminar demonstrates - RSS readers do not get much airtime when there are these discussions on Web 2.0 technologies (in this workshop this technology was only mentioned via the Q&A). Equally, I have yet to find someone working within large organisations who feel they get too few emails ... and thus the concept of receiving yet more info is a major barrier to seeing the advantages of Web 2.0. I'd suggest that RSS readers are the key that will unlock the door to Web 2.0 - and as such deserve a higher profile in such awareness sessions.

Secondly - HR is having to reach outside of our own profession to gain the insights provided by Web 2.0 subject-matter-experts (two of the HRD panel started with the statement 'I'm not a HR professional..'). Equally, our profession IS where significant expertise in change-management exists. Hence, while there is a lot of talk around organisations adapting to accommodate the 'digital natives' by providing them with connectivity akin to Facebook & Bebo, there is little said about the significant opportunity HR has to be the strategic driver of Web 2.0 within organisations. A key point being that for organisations to thrive they need all colleagues connected (allowing new, inexperienced staff to benefit from the mentoring of the 'wise old-hands'). As a profession I'd suggest that we need to be proactive, as I commented previously.

Finally, we need to think more about the psychological contract the 'digital natives' will expect of organisations. In other words, in an era where a-job-for-life no longer exists - how much investment will colleagues want to make in blogging & building knowledge networks unless they are transferable between roles & organisations. What will be a good balance for Web 2.0 technologies behind & outside of organisational firewalls ?