A Google+ Hangout with Craig Wiggings, Charles Jennings, Enzo Silva, Pascal le Rudulier, Clark Quinn, and Jay Cross.
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Businesses around the world are transforming into extended enterprise networks but their training departments are stuck in the previous century. In the pursuit of trying to ﬁx what’s broken, let’s imagine what ideal corporate learning would look like if we could start over from scratch.
In the 1800s and 1900s, successful companies ran like well-oiled machines. Workers were mere cogs in those machines. The people were interchangeable parts. Companies paid them to follow instructions and do the same thing over and over again.
Workers have since replaced machines as the primary means of creating value. Companies rely on them to solve problems, delight customers, and stay ahead of the game. They are what make a business go and grow. A company’s market value echoes the ingenuity, know-how and reputation of its people.
Twenty-ﬁrst century employees have to do complex, unpredictable work. They have to keep up with a torrent of new products and services, not just their own but also their competitors’. They have to stay sharp in a
world that’s going ever faster. They have to grapple with a barrage of new information and demands on their time. Continuous learning is the only way they can keep up. Their work has become learning, and learning is the bulk of their work.
And, on top of this, technology has connected the world, making it possible to connect with just about anyone, anytime, anywhere. The ease of sharing of information has lead to a cultural phenomenon, which relates to our topic at hand; people are used to being able to get the answers to their questions – to learn – of their own accord through
research and conversation. But this way of learning – autonomous searching and social collaboration – has not yet been reﬂected in corporate learning, demonstrating that corporate learning has fallen behind.
To keep things simple in our following exploration of how corporate learning needs to change, let’s call the industrial-age (old school) companies Hierarchical and the network-era (2012) companies Collaborative. Control in Hierarchical companies resides at the top. Orders and instructions are pushed down through the organization. Control in Collaborative companies is distributed throughout the organizations. Workers and supervisors have a large say in what they do and they pull in the resources they need for themselves.
So, imagine the training department just disappeared because our organization has shifted from Hierarchical to Collaborative, and learning has become everyone’s business.
Where should we focus to improve learning? It’s a matter of people and infrastructure. Those will be the topics of my next posts on this subject.
Curation enriches conferences
At the turn of the century, blogging was brand spanking new, Twitter had yet to be born, and backchannels referred to espionage by double agents. Back then I tried to capture and share what was going on in lengthy blog posts. For example, here’s my report on Elliott’s TechLearn 2001. And here’s my review of Online Learning 2001.
Dave Kelly has made curating conference exhaust — the Tweetstream, presentations, photos, recordings, and related links — into an art form. For people who can’t attend an event in person, the backchannel provides the next best thing to being there. For those who do attend, the backchannel keeps the content alive. If I want to revisit what Aaron or Clark or Gary or Brent said about something, I can find it on the persistent backchannel. As a result, I no longer compulsively take notes at events.
Resources like these convert conferences from one-time events into on-going processes.
From now on rather than write an exhaustive blow-by-blow account, I’m going to post only a few thoughts I draw from events I attend. Here goes…
Mobile is mandatory
Mobile learning has crossed the chasm. Smart phones and tablets are crowding out laptops (see The Last Laptop). Five billion people have mobile phones, one billion have smart phones, and the U.S. has more mobile phones than citizens. Savvy developers are writing software for mobile first instead of as an afterthought from the PC version.
A member of the audience at the panel session asked how to build a learning strategy. Her manager had asked her to create a training course for the iPads they were buying. I replied that she should explain that figuring out what you’re trying to do comes before deciding how you’re going to do it. I also recommended checking the free parts of the book Lance Dublin and I wrote ten years ago on implementing eLearning.
Mobile learning is inevitable because mobile business is inevitable. As the pace of business is ever faster, working and learning become one and the same thing. There’s no time to learn in advance. Besides, learning at the time of need is more effective.
Business is becoming SoLoMo (social-local-mobile, a coinage of venture capital icon John Doerr). SoLoMo business requires SoLoMo learning.
A participant at our panel session asked how one could make sense of the diverse mobile technologies, user populations, toolsets, standards, apps, and devices. I suggested the starting point is not the technology, but what can improve the business.
mLearncon was the coming out party for Project Tin Can, AKA next-generation SCORM.
Image by Liz Burow
Tin Can will be important because it’s a Rosetta Stone for creating an interoperable record of all sorts of learning experiences, not just individual courses (which was a major limitation of the original SCORM.) Several vendors demonstrated mobile apps that utilize the beta Tin Can API.
How to Think Mobile
Okay, I’m biased. (Aren’t we all?) Clark Quinn is a close friend and a colleague in the Internet Time Alliance. I like Clark. And Clark’s presentation was the best advice I’ve heard on mLearning.
Consider these five things when augmenting our limited brains wherever we are: