I agreed to be interviewed for an article, and was sent questions. And I wrote what I thought were cogent answers. I even dobbed in a couple of colleagues to also be interviewed. However, the resulting article isn’t what I expected at all. Now, I don’t intend to make all my posts critiques of what’s being said, but sometimes I guess I just can’t help myself! So first, here’re my original answers. In my next post, I’ll document the article’s claims, and my rejoinders about what I think are the driving trends in L&D.
The original questions and responses:
How has our thinking evolved on using technology to assist in learning and development?
Thinking around technology for Learning & Development has shifted from delivering ‘courses’ to looking at the entire learning and performance ecosystem where technology can not only help us perform in the moment but also develop us over time. This adds performance support, resources and portals, and communication and collaboration tools to support learning alone and together from formal through to informal learning. We’re recognizing that to move forward, organizations that can learn fastest are the ones most likely to not just survive but thrive. However, this goes beyond the tools and the people to the structures, values, and culture that underpin practices.
Do you think the current systems in use for L&D are adequate? If not, why so?
The legacy of the training mentality is keeping us mired in the past. I think that adding portal and social media capabilities to systems with a ‘course’ DNA isn’t the path forward. Instead, we should be looking to integrate capabilities from the best instances in every area. We want flexibility to switch tools if we find better solutions to specific needs, not one overworked legacy system. An LMS (learning management system; misnamed because you don’t manage learning) may well still be of use to manage courses and signups, but it’s the wrong foundation for the more agile future we need. Supporting curation and creation, and negotiating shared understandings are the learning that’re going to be most valuable, and that requires not just different tools, but a different mindset. It’s time to shift from delivery to facilitation.
What technology-assisted learning tools do you think hold the most potential?
Collaborative tools are the most important tools: the ability to collectively generate and manipulate representations that document how our thinking evolves are important. Such tools that support simultaneous and asynchronous work and communication will be key to the ongoing learnings that will propel organizations forward. New tools like VR can lead to deeper formal learnings, and AR will help both as performance support and annotating the world, but collaborative immersion and annotation fit into that first category. When we’re developing an understanding together, we’re creating the richest outcome. There are nuances in doing that right, and that’s part of L&D’s role too, but it’s about tapping into the power of people. Technology that facilitates learning together is what will have the biggest impact.
What do you think is next for learning tech? Is there a huge shift coming?
I think the biggest thing coming for learning tech isn’t the tech. The ICICLE initiative from IEEE that is defining ‘learning engineering’ is a big move to start getting smarter about integrating the two components: learning science and technology design and development. Too often learning science is ignored (c.f. ‘rapid elearning’) or the technical sophistication is missing (e.g. tracking done only at the ‘course’ level). I think that once we get our minds around the importance of the integration, we’ll be far better positioned to tap into the advancements we’re seeing. While I think the hype about Artificial Intelligence is overblown, ultimately I believe that we’ll have more powerful tools to automate what doesn’t require the sophisticated capabilities of our brains, freeing us up to do the important work. And that work will be collaborating to generate new understandings. I do think there’ll be a big shift, but it’ll be coming along slowly. I hope this shift happens, but I think it’s evolutionary, as change is hard.
Ok, so that’s what I said about the trends in L&D. What you will see is that what they presented is somewhat contrary to what I said here!