Monday, 1 February 2010

(in)formal learning

The learning technologies conf' was very interesting - sponsored by Kineo.  Expect a few blog posts on some of the tools I heard about.

Looks like LMS' (VLEs) are in gradual decline in the business arena as well as education! No one really "likes" them, tho' they all feel that the LMS is here to stay, but will be part of a larger collection (cloud) of e-systems (incl' plenty of Web 2.0 apps). The word free application seems to resonate with our cash strapped training/learning and development dept's.  Strangly tho' not many seem to understand that eportfolios are part of the answer!!  Most seem to be gravitating towards informal learning or Presonal learning Environments (PLEs ) - aggregated social networks, etc,  as an anitdote to shrinking training budgets - but not really  understanding far reaching implications. And no mention of underpinning pedagogies/scaffolding.

There seems to be a collective thought that, "if we find the right tools (Yammer, Huddle, etc), they will come - and all learn informally hapily ever after!!  Tho' many cite internal communities of practice - and knowledge of,  are needed to drive business efficiencies. Another Web 2.0 / elearning bandwagon is being jumped on, with little thought as to why - apart from most of these tools are free!

But some are more cautious tho' - citing our frivolous trends in this rapidly changing web 2.0 world, i.e. friends re-united was hot, now it's not - is that what will happen to Facebook in a couple of years time? One company blocked access to Facebook @ work and reported an  immediate 11% increase in productivity .  And plenty of talk about what impact e-learning is having on business upskilling and driving efficiencies. No one seems to be evaluating past e-learning successes, to their peril, as senior managers still don't "get it" - as the strong businesses cases are not being promoted. The age of BS "smoke and mirrors" selling e-learning to business is well and truley over. Strong tangible business benefits is what SMT are only (and have always been) interested in.

Laura Overton (see my doctored image above) did talk about a very revealling benchmarking research study Towards Maturity enterprises conducted recently.  Analysing perceived and tangible impacts of e-learning had on business' bottom line.  Unsuprisinlgy not many had really analysed these business savings as a result of implementing previous VLEs/LMS'.

IMPACT is the new mantra.  Implement, anaylse, and evaluate, or die tryingIf you don't do this, the bean counters are more likely to say, "why sould we pay for a new microblogging platform" when we've got email?"  Unless e-learning companies or inhouse dept's can present quantitave data clearly illustrating improvement in business efficiences and cost savings, those bean counters, are quite at liberty to say.

"No thanks, we'll stick with our intranet, email, free web 2.0 tools, and less (more focussed) F2F training. "

And who could blame them? That goes for UK education as well. "Will this new web 2.0/ Open Source tool save us money ? If so how much?"

Informal learning, internal knowledge transfer, eliminating travel to training, Communities of practice are "trending" - but very few have cracked it - apart from BT's "Dare2Share" social networking portal. See also the vid below:

That's the main feeling - but e-learning business is still strong - as training dept's are being forced to use e-learning due to reduced budgets and reduced personell -and they are doing it well! Blended and distance training (webinars) are looking stronger - with good reports of trainees really taking to these new methods.  Pricewaterhousecoopers ran an excellent presentation on their global training stratgey - drastically revamped to use primarily webinars. So, at last, it's taken a global recession for business to start being forced to use e-learning to make significant training and devleopment savings. With the added benefit of employees actually taking to it!!  There's hope for us all, maybe the education sector is next - considering cuts in funding are iminent. HFECE has announced serious cuts today - and it's splashed all across the news.  Time to blend learning UK HEIs , time to give some serious thoughts to integrating "e" solutions into F2F delivery, rather than ignoring it/us, and hoping we'll go away to play with shiny ipads - we wish!

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