Workplace Learning is changing!
A couple of months back I shared my thoughts on an interesting question relating to the ‘future of workplace learning’ at Learning Circuits Blog. The learning domain is undergoing change like never before; Social Media, Informal Learning, Communities, Virtual Worlds, Mobile Learning, Learning Games, Augmented Reality, and much else. Such is the force of change that the existence of the Training Department itself is under threat – at least in the ‘form’ we know of now. As Harold Jarche and Jay Cross point out in their excellent article “The future of training department”, the training personnel of the future need to reorganize and must try to achieve the following:
– Facilitating collaborative work and learning amongst workers, especially as peers.
– Sensing patterns and helping to develop emergent work and learning practices.
– Working with management to fund and develop appropriate tools and processes for workers.
I concur with what they say, just that this transition will happen quickly in some organizations but painfully and slowly in others. This is captured well in Clark Quinn’s ‘Conferencing Reflections’ where he talks about how the focus of a large number of organizations is still on doing-the-job with training and missing the point when it comes to learning, and how technology can help there.
Where does this leave the learning solutions providers?
It is inevitable that learning providers would need to change too – both in their approach and offerings. In fact the providers need to change before consumer organizations do. They need to be ready with new set of products and services (guess everything would be a ‘service’ in a few years in most cases!). For this providers need to innovate and change internally first.
Pursuing that direction, a few months back Upside Learning set up a dedicated team for ‘Innovation and New Projects – INP’ The idea is to examine the changes in workplace learning space – in learning technology; in the way we learn with new technology; and in how this will affect our market place (and in turn our products and services). We want to be at the forefront and be ready with new age products and services to help our customers. Of course the central thoughts behind this is to ensure our existing customers need not look out for a new supplier for any of the new learning technology they may require.
Well, I feel innovation and its benefits to customers should be linked closely. Sometimes innovation-teams may lose their connection with ground reality and innovate to produce great prototypes only to realize it’s not commercially viable or useful for customers. For this reason, we wanted our innovation team to be involved with some of our projects for customers too. They’re involved with new types or atypical projects, like the development of an iphone app based game quiz recently. We want our innovation team to be early adopters of new technology, to experience it, evaluate it for what’s it worth, and pass on the knowledge/skills learned to other members of the development team.
We hope this will stand us in good stead and help our current, prospective and future customers meet their learning needs effectively. We hope that in turn will help us build on our progress so far.