Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Learning Technologies 2009 - reflection on the Nov. '08 magazine

The UK Learning Technologies conference series is fast approaching its 10th year.  I'm delighted to be involved in the forthcoming 2009 event, contributing on Driving adoption - the value of partnering with HR.

As a previous attendee, I've always looked forward to receiving the associated magazines - sent out in the run up to the conference.  This year is no exception - and I've just found time to read the November issue (the first of three in the run up to the 2009 conference).

I find it interesting that: the topic is technologies and the contributors are among those thought-leaders I follow on-line, and yet there is still something helpful about getting the content in paper format.  I'm not sure I can explain this - but it may have something to do with the amount of content visible on a single page vs. screen. I find myself scanning across the columns, making connections etc in a less linear fashion than when on-line.

A few key quotes that attracted my attention

Donald Taylor - "Skills Finally Matter ... Differentiation now has just one source: people ... The oft repeated phrase 'people are our most important asset' is not quite on the money.  An organisation's most important asset is what its people can do: their skills and knowledge."

Jane Hart - "The social aspect of learning has often been missing from on-line learning initiatives up to now .... in all areas, the sharing of knowledge and experiences by learners is invaluable."

Jay Cross - "invent-as-you go learning".

Clive Shepherd - "Learning 2.0: Learners in this context are just people looking to get things done and using their initiative to overcome any obstacles in the way (like being short of information or not knowing how to go about doing something)."

This is just the 'tip of the iceberg' from the content provided.

My Reflections:

As Nigel Paine states "ultimately learners need to take control of their own learning destinies and use the resources available to maintain and develop their skills and competence" ... and clearly Web 2.0 technologies have made it much easier to do this. 

Equally, I'm not confident that we will reach a 'tipping point' where the benefits of proactive workplace-centred life-long learning  are accepted by a significant majority.  The classic Change Management article 'Change or Die' highlights the challenge of changing human behaviour - however logical and beneficial it is.  

So I feel we need to be careful not to to be lulled into a sense of complacency that 'if we build it they will come'.  Maybe, rather than talking about a shift to self-directed learning, we need to think more about partnership - where the organisation is focused on motivating colleagues to partner with them on investing in their unique learning journeys.

With learning technologies, we need to understand the range of motivations that fuel an individual's enthusiasm to use them - and help reinforce this. 

There are somewhere in the region of 4 million managers in the UK ... what would it take to get 400,000 (10%) periodically publishing their reflections/insights as blogs/slideshare content etc, 2 million (50%) actively maintaining their professional networks via linkedin, and 3 million (75%) using an RSS reader for work-related feeds ?