Articles / Through the looking glass : reflections on Learning Technologies 2015

Most Januarys, I join many of my colleagues in the learning field milling around stands and seminars at the Learning Technologies exhibition.

This year was no different – in far too many respects. The learning industry is extremely conservative. If anything is going to change, it will do so in the smallest of increments (the true meaning of a “quantum leap”!)

So, yet again I saw the usual crop of learning management systems, content authoring tools and bespoke content providers. It feels like a saturated market. A lot of suppliers, with very little to differentiate between them.

I sit inside my learning bubble building tools that continue to reinforce the notion that learning is somehow separate from the rest of what people do. Yet, outside that bubble, (or, mixing metaphors, through the looking glass) is a world where learning is tightly integrated with daily life. So tightly, in fact, that people often don’t even realise they’re learning at all!

Take my typical working day at the moment for example. What learning is happening, and what tools and materials are being used to support it?

  1. Read the news on my favourite news app on the iPad
  2. Start to work on a shared Google document defining an xAPI implementation for a client
  3. Use the xAPI specification website as a reference guide
  4. Look on Google for a software tool to help me write xAPI statements
  5. Have a Google Hangout with a colleague to discuss the best approach to a tricky scenario – filling in the document together as I speak
  6. Ask a question on Twitter about xAPI syntax (and get an answer within minutes)
  7. Record the answer in the shared document
  8. Create, and upload to Youtube, a short video to use with my colleagues (see below…)

Ignoring the fact that I’m learning about obscure data specifications… this daily process of learning supported by generic, consumer-friendly platforms is how many people are taking responsibility and control for their own learning and development.

So, what can the L&Ddepartment do to prevent itself from being ever more focussed on the 10% (of 70:20:10)?

  1. Create only what is essential. Help people to find the rest.
  2. Make connections. Be aware of what people are looking for and make it easier to find. Be aware of who the experts are and make their expertise easier to use.
  3. Use the data already in your organisation to understand what people need (what are they searching for) and what is working (what’s different about the high performers). Then meet those needs and reduce the performance gaps.
  4. Be the employees’ advocate to the decision makers who want to cut them off from their main support resources and collaboration tools.
  5. Be the company’s advocate to the employees in making best and appropriate use of the tools available.

And what could the learning technology industry do to help L&D?

  1. Get to know and understand enterprise search tools
  2. Collect meaningful data which allows effective and rapid decision-making (some knowledge of statistics might be useful here)
  3. Integrate with existing corporate social media tools – don’t create something new
  4. Build on platforms that the end-users already know
  5. Make bridges between the systems used by “operations” and those used by L&D
  6. Focus on intelligent content management rather than just mass content creation

Oh, and here’s that video…

{include youtube.html id=’Uf9W3MU5ceg’ %}


Posted: 29 January 2015

Tags: Learning