Sometime last year, I heard web 2.0 being described as a “seismic shift.” I loved that phrase – it is so poetic and attention-getting – and I’ve used it frequently since. I am only just beginning to appreciate how big a shift we are experiencing in the world of workplace learning. It’s not only seismic, it may be epic.
This week, I’m in Chicago for a seminar series on web 2.0 and immersive simulations being offered by the E-Learning Guild. My head is spinning. I’ve already bought the argument that web 2.0 (and 3.0 and x.0) must be incorporated into the way we design and deliver learning in the workplace (assuming your learners are networked). I came here to learn about the tools I’ve never heard of, and more importantly, to learn how organizations are using these to effectively support learning. Our facilitators for the web 2.0 seminar are two well-known thought leaders in the field: Brent Schlenker and Mark Oehlert. I’ve certainly been introduced to new tools.. myUduto, Netvibes, Jott, and Slideshare are just a few of the tools we discussed. Too cool!
What’s scary, though, is that my second learning goal for the series may be impossible to meet. What we need here, I’ve been thinking, is for the leaders in the field to document the best ideas for how to apply these tools to learning projects and to share some of the best case examples. (How hard could that be?) What I’m realizing is that before we even have a chance to do that, new tools and new practices will be invented and put into use by technology leaders and our learners. Everything is emergent. Keeping up will be quite the trick.
Imagine… we need to learn new tools as they become available; we need to quickly interpret how they may be used to support learning. And while we may be saved because only a portion of those tools are available “inside the firewall” – our learners are NOT so constrained. Many have their own PCs at home, and savvy users know how to run these tools on locked down computers. Once you have the use of these tools, it’s hard to imagine working and learning without them. There will always be a need for instructor-led training and “traditional” e-learning, but web 2.0 technologies need to become a routine part of our toolkit as well. They offer amazing opportunities for collaboration and co-creation of knowledge, and they can increase learning efficiency.
What’s the big deal? Frankly, I’m having a little trouble putting it into words, even while feeling like there’s a small vibration growing that will completely rearrange the ground as we go forward. Our tools will be different, and too many of us don’t know how to use them, no less how to apply them to learning. And I think despite all the hype about the next generation, we’re still underestimating how different our learners will be and how demanding.
I keep thinking about the implications for instructional designers. How do we keep ourselves up to date on new tools and possibilities? What are the implications with regard to educating designers in our masters programs and certifications? How will the processes we use to identify delivery modes and to design specific solutions need to change? I recall a comment I heard at a conference a few years back – in response to a question about the preparation of instructional designers to make a transition from classroom to e-learning design, a presenter (whose identity I can’t recall) responded that those who know adult learning will be able to design for anything. I’m becoming even more convinced that to be effective in this field, you must know theory and research about how adults learn. With that as a base, you’re in a better position to imagine the possibilities and use what these new tools have to offer to great effect.
I’d love to hear what you think…
On the positive side, the conversation gives me more confidence in the viability of the Learning Environment Design model. I wonder, though, if I should do some more thinking about the ADDIE spirograph and how that is applied. Mmmm…. Definitely will have to be thought through more completely before I write that book. 🙂
Our next set of presenters promise to focus more on design than on tools, so I’m looking forward to the next couple of days as well. More to come…