There is a real change in how work is getting done today. It’s not just factory workers but many professionals whose work will be automated by software and robots. Procedural work will keep getting outsourced to the lowest cost of labour. The industrial world deskilled work to its component parts, and today these parts continue to get automated or crowd-sourced. Traditional jobs will not come back.
So how will anyone be able to make a living? Get creative. Creative work cannot be automated. “Focus on the human factor,” says futurist Gerd Leonhard, “If our work – and our output – is robotic we will soon be surpassed by intelligent software agents and machines.” Human creative work is not just art, design, and the like, but includes making valuable things for a specific context, need, or market. The internet makes finding these markets much easier.
So how can anyone learn and prepare for this world of work? We know that training works well to learn a defined skill, such as how to drive a car. You can also train for a field, such as carpentry. But training does little for creativity.
First of all, learn real skills, not just how to make it in an organization. Artists first learn the skills of their field. Learn how to code, bake, or some other defined skill. Master it, and then start breaking the rules. This is the Picasso approach. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” [attributed].
At the same time, learn how to cooperate in networks. Start right now in engaging in diverse professional learning networks. Put yourself out there, for in this new world of work, you are only as good as your network.
Think of yourself as a freelancer for life and always nurture your networks, no matter what. Avoid getting lulled into a false sense of security. To stay engaged, take control of your professional development. The alternative is rather feudal.
In thinking about mlearning, I have characterized the possibilities of mobile as augmenting formal, performance support, social, and contextual. It occurs to me, as I continue to think mobile, that there is another way to view it.
The realization came from the fact that you can use social for both augmenting formal learning and performance support, just as you can with content (both media files and interactive experiences). Which leads to a different way of characterizing the space. Thus, social versus content is a different cut through mobile than is formal learning versus performance support.
An interesting other cut is that you can do something contextual for any or all of these areas as well: you could provide a contextually relevant or local directory of mentors for formal social or collaborators for performance support. For formal content, you could leverage contextual elements with associated content, or even create an alternate reality game playing off the context. And for performance support, you might customize job aids to point to local resources, or provide augmented reality to annotate the world.
What I’m doing here is revising the way I cut through the space. Social plays a role in both formal and performance support, as does content. Contextual is really a third dimension in addition to the other two dimensions.The older characterization was useful for thinking through design, but I think this is conceptually cleaner.
I’m always trying to get better, and this seems more accurate. So, does it make sense to you? More importantly does this help, or only confound the space from the point of view of doing good mDesign?
Workplace training and education too often resemble modern playgrounds:
safe, repeatable, easily constructed from component parts, requiring that the child bring little of their own to the experience – Johnnie Moore
When adults design for children they have a tendency to dumb things down. Perhaps the notion that there is no such thing as writing for children should be extended to workplace training and education design. In the workplace, thinking of co-workers as “learners” actually may be a barrier to learning.
The real value of the MOOC (massively open online course/content) could be its potential to remove the barrier between learners, designers, and instructors. Its workplace learning potential may be greater than its academic value. But if one thinks of the MOOC as a course, designed by one party for another party, then it really is nothing new.
Indeed, I was struck by a recent comment from someone with 15 years of experience in designing face-to-face, blended and online credit programs: I am trying to understand what MOOCs can offer that my understanding of educational design, learning design and online and distance education does not include. I’m afraid that the answer continues to be: ‘Nothing,‘ at least for the moment. – Tony Bates
But the MOOC can foster emergent learning, which makes it an optimal form for understanding complex issues. This is something that a curriculum-based, graded, course is not well suited to support. With the MOOC, especially one focused on being massive and open, there is a greater possibility for serendipitous connections, such as what happened with participants becoming instructors in the early MOOC we conducted in 2008.
If we think of the MOOC as a vehicle for shared understanding, and not content delivery, it becomes the collective equivalent to personal knowledge management. It is group learning, with some structured content, and good facilitation; but most importantly, space for sense-making. In the complex domain, combining PKM with more structure for social learning, using the MOOC format, can be an important addition to how workplace learning is supported.
Update: several possibilities for corporate MOOC’s from Donald Clark.