The world of learning at work is changing and we need to change with it.
This is not a matter of adopting some new, hyped technology nor of championing the latest fad in training techniques. The shifts in how we work in the West are fundamental and long-lasting and are not susceptible to superficial solutions. We are now in a global economy where most organisations derive their value from their people’s knowledge, skills and attitudes.
This will demand fundamental changes in how people develop themselves at work.
This article was original written in 2010 for the Charity Learning Consortium, then reprinted on Training Zone.
For a long time – possibly for too long – training was something that took place in the background of daily operations. It was something organisations felt obliged to do. That is, they felt obliged until things got bad and then, like other costs such as marketing and buildings maintenance, training spending was slashed until times got better.
But in the recently finished recession, things changed.
On Friday I attended the Learning 3 symposium at the British Museum in London along with Jane Hart, Laura Overton and a crowd of others, mostly from the UK Further and Higher Education sectors.
Here’s a picture of me at the event producing a 30-second series of sound bites on what the future of Learning and Development needs (the picture links to a video on the Learning 3 Ning site).
What our hosts LLUK (and particularly Briony Taylor) wanted to stimulate was a dialog around this question:
What are the skills and competencies needed by the lifelong learning sector now?
During the day I put out a quick Twitter poll on this, as it seemed odd to be discussing Learning 3 in a room without pulling in the wider learning community. Jane Hart did the same.
The learning Twittersphere was engaged: we generated quite a few replies….
Next Tuesday sees the Learning and Skills Group Conference at Olympia in London. We have a great line up of speakers, including:
- Gordon Bull – former head of L&D at Vodafone
- Tony Buzan – inventor of Mind Mapping
- Jay Cross – learning visionary and champion of informal learning
- Jane Hart – social media learning luminary
- Nigel Paine – former head of L&D at the BBC
- Clive Shepherd – Mr e-learning
What a line up! And there are plenty of other speakers, too, with some exciting stories to share. It’s a great programme, but we haven’t made much of a fuss about it. Nonetheless, the conference is completely full.
What’s going on?
Simple – the event is guaranteed to fill up, because it is one of the benefits of membership of the Learning and Skills Group (LSG). Members have to have attended the Learning Technologies Conference in the previous January, or can apply.
It will be a very busy day, with 7 concurrent interactive events occurring at any time. I am looking forward to it immensely, and I’ll post afterwards to say how it’s gone.
Happy New Year!
A quick check of traffic stats shows that some people were reading this site over the holidays, including some on Christmas Day. Great! (I think.)
I myself didn’t touch a computer on Christmas Day, which may have been the result of starting the day with a glass of Buck’s Fizz. The champagne came courtesy of Training Zone, as a reward for having written their most-read story of 2008:
Modern myths of learning: You only remember 10% of what you read
The article debunks the commonly held myth that:
You remember 10% of what you read
You remember 20% of what you hear
You remember 30% of what you see
You remember 90% of what you do
… and is part of a series that continues into 2009. The story has been read some 15,000 people, and the comments are overwhelmingly positive. The main drift of the article was not only to attack this particular fallacy, but – more importantly – to question the ease with which myths are perpetuated across the training / learning and development practice.
My chief concern is that while on the one hand the economy is reaching a place where skills finally matter, the people who are experts in the area of skills, talent and training are still far from forming a profession, and suffer in particular by lacking an agreed common body of knowledge.
The result of this lack of professionalism is that those doing the job are not seen as the people best equipped to take strategic decisions about skills, or even to advise on them. They become the grease monkeys who are put to work by those feeling the pain of skills issues – those in operations and finance in particular. It’s a bit like a garage taking orders from a driver about the cause of a problem with an engine, the new part to be ordered and the way to fit it. It might work. It probably won’t. Just because you’re driving the car doesn’t mean you know how it works.
More on this next week.