The brave new world of technology

This morning I had the good fortune to be invited to attend a breakfast in Sydney where the guest speaker was Matt Barrie from Freelancer.com. He spoke about current macro trends in technology and society generally and the implications of these. It was great. It was one of those presentations where you are engaged every minute. Partly because you are really interested and learning and partly because it suddenly articulates to you things you were already thinking but hadn’t quite gathered together in the echoing chasms of your mind yet.

Overall the future (or rather now) is a very exciting time to be alive. There are so many technology trends shaping everything. I won’t go into the minutiae of the whole presentation but he did talk about learning looking at MOOCs and websites like the Khan Academy, Coursera and Udemy. I happened to be sharing a table with a whole bunch of L&D people who surprised me by asking what those were and wanting the website names to look them up. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised? I do that a lot. I know something so I expect others to as well. I don’t think that’s it here though. To me, to be successful in your learning career (or any career for that matter) you need to keep up-to-date. As Matt Barrie correctly pointed out, MOOCs and their cousins in cyberspace are the future of learning and will change how we look at learning in a myriad of ways that we can’t yet imagine. This aspect of the talk reinforced my thinking completely.

We are stuck in the past in the learning game. We are too attached to the idea of face-to-face training that an “expert” learning person needs to prepare and deliver. That is rapidly becoming obsolete. Perhaps the days of the LOD specialist are numbered. They are definitely numbered in their current form. I am constantly amazed at how many talented LOD practitioners can espouse the “correct” stuff about informal and flexible learning but if they look at learning within their own organisations they inevitably go for face-to-face training – maybe with a little on-line to make it “blended”. Even the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) publishes a confusing mix of informal learning articles and how to be a more effective “trainer” within their journal. Their professional development is almost exclusively geared towards traditional facilitation and instructional design.

The time to start changing is now before we’re all out of a job. Today’s young learners are going it alone using the Internet as their classroom for a just-in-time learning experience. Imagine what will happen when they start work and are confronted with a face-to-face, one-day Induction Workshop…will they even show up?

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