Sunday, March 15, 2009

Workplace Learning in 10 Years

Tony Karrer asks the BIG question,

If you peer inside an organization in 10 years time and you look at how workplace learning is being supported by that organization, what will you see?

In answering this, I’m going to be brief and pragmatic.

Ten years is a long time to project when making such a prediction. We have to forget about the current global economic crisis that’s putting everything, including workplace learning, into a tight spin. I’m assuming that we will have well recovered from this trauma by 2019.

We also have to shut our minds to the time warps that technology and its uses seem to have experienced in the past 10 years. Technology will experience its own ‘crash’ that we will have to contend with. This is already starting to happen with technowhelm, and I estimate that such a trough is not far off. My prediction is that the crazy technological frenzy that appears to be peaking at the moment will tend to moderate tolerably.

Drawing from the past:

Ten years ago, we might have been forgiven for thinking that the future of workplace learning in 2009 lay in computer assisted learning. Advancing a further five years and we could have been excused for believing that training databases were going to be action packed with animated instruction kits and video assisted training tools.

None of these predictions became general features of workplace learning and for a number of differing reasons. A few components of these found their way into specialist programs, limited in their extent by budgetary factors.

Learning must be accessible:

Accessibility of any information is the main limitation on its effective application. With the sheer volume of digital data that is likely to be associated with any organisation, access will become a major feature of any support system providing useful learning. It’s my best guess of the most efficient way for it to be brought about. The likelihood is that accessibility will become a major issue well before the year 2019 and will have to be dealt with or bust.

Over the past few years resourcefulness and conservation have been features of many societal practices. This cultural trait will find its way into the processes to do with how knowledge is stored, and disseminated.

Knowledge management will have swept a wide orbit and will return along a familiar but digitally oriented groove. Filtering and replenishing will be based on practice and resultant success, rather than theoretical principles governing what’s deemed to be useful.

Data retrieval will have become a fine art, almost an algorithmic feature of the technology of an organisation, rather than a problematic process within it. Already we have successful examples of data being managed on the Internet in Wikipedia and examples like this will serve as practicing models for the design of accessible data systems.

The networks:

Digital networking may well have found a niche by 2019. The study of how online groups behave and operate, tackled from the standpoint of best optimised rather than random mixes, will develop some of its own fundamental principles.

Sharing skills and knowledge, and working collaboratively in doing this, using refined technologies and their developments and appropriate techniques, will be lean and more efficient. Partnerships within and between organisations will be mutual organisational strengths, rather than organisational threats in a competitive environment.

Taxonomies for learning:

Training and learning in the workplace will become principled studies. Practical taxonomies will evolve. Technologies and associated learning techniques are selected for particular learning needs.

For this learning need, use this learning practice, is a pithy summary of how it will work out for most workplace learning needs in 2019.

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