Yesterday I was delighted to have lunch with Jay Cross, elearning guru, author, bon vivant, mentor, friend, (and now drummer). We’re almost neighbors (15 mi) and share passions for learning (and the meta-version), the capabilities technology can provide (not the technology itself), good food and drink. We’ve shared many adventures. I was helping him pick a new computer (a Mac), and of course having good conversation.
One of the things to talk about was performance support, as he’s writing an elegant update on the history and importance of this approach. It triggered many thoughts, not the least because performance support is the real focus of my mobile design piece I did for the recent eLearning Guild mobile research report.
It occurred to me that the new technologies make performance support even more effective. Semantic tagging, combined with user models, for instance, gives us opportunities to customize our support. As I’ve said before, mobile’s been a tale of convenience, making information available when needed, even if it’s a small screen, or over a small speaker, but the real opportunity still awaits: context sensitivity. We can track more than location, we can take a meeting, wrap support around it, and turn it into a learning event. Wrapping performance support around our lives, improving us as it improves our performance, is a true quantum shift in developing human capability.
Of course, we can also take performance support and meta- it, too! Our devices can not only support our performance on task, but support our performance on learning from the performance. It sounds a bit recursive, but I think that helping people become effective self-learners is a second great opportunity.
In Jay’s excellent book Informal Learning, he makes the point that “Dialogue is the most powerful learning technology on earth”, and it’s certainly true that when I get together with great thinkers, my own thinking gets sparked. I’m not a ‘big group’ person, but I love small conversations, and try to get together with folks and share conversation and comestibles. Let’s do lunch!