The learning industry often is on the leading edge of new technologies. Going back to the laser disk, learning professionals have been and continue to be early adopters of the latest gadgets. But being a front-runner also can mean being the guinea pig — the one who must struggle to figure out the best and most effective way to use the technology.
In the third part of a wide-ranging discussion on enterprise learning, we asked industry leaders and Chief Learning Officer columnists Josh Bersin and Elliott Masie to share their thoughts on new technologies and their implications for learning.
It’s easy to get dazzled by the proliferation of new technologies, but beyond the buzz, these new tools have led to a dramatic change in how information is used in today’s workplace, said Bersin, principal and founder of industry analyst firm Bersin & Associates.
“We as learners or employers or businesspeople have completely changed the way we interact with information,” Bersin said.
While there are many positives to that change, there also are negatives. Bersin said a recent study conducted by his firm indicates that more than half of companies are unhappy with their e-learning strategies. Perhaps that’s because the old model of e-learning as instructor-oriented courseware has become stale.
“Modern technology-based training is very multifaceted. It’s very dynamic. It’s very collaborative,” Bersin said. “It is going through a revolution. It has changed the way people expect to gain information and learn on the job.”
While traditional instructor-led training still has an important place for strategic programs, such as critical competencies and leadership development, learning will continue to evolve and change with new technology.
“This is a constant evolution,” Bersin said. “It will never be over, and we will continuously be finding new ways to apply technology.”
That evolution hasn’t come without some growing pains.
“Our problem is that we’ve labeled our technologies as methodologies,” said Masie, chair and CLO of The Masie Center’s Learning Consortium. While technology is a way to deliver a wide range of learning models, many people have assumed that those technologies themselves are the learning models.
“We are continuing the evolution that began a long time ago, and we’re getting better and better and better at the technology. But it’s not a methodology,” Masie said.
He explained that learning methodologies are simulations or stretch assignments, and technology in many cases is just a new way to deliver that learning method.
“I don’t believe that fundamentally, at the workforce level, how we learn has changed dramatically,” he said.
What technology has changed is how content is created, shrinking time to creation and “democratizing” content creation, Masie said. That change in how knowledge is created and captured has resulted in a shift in perception about what constitutes learning. The youngest generation of workers doesn’t identify with traditional learning as it has been defined in the past.
“They don’t want to go back to school,” Masie said. “They want to go forward to collaboration.”
Listen in to a recording of Bersin and Masie’s full conversation in the latest Chief Learning Officer podcast at www.clomedia.com/podcast. Stay tuned for further highlights from our dialogue with Masie and Bersin.
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