Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Insight from an Undiscovered Source – and a Pleasant Surprise Coming From It!


Every now and then one discovers something new and exciting amongst the welter of information, and opportunities that exist in our whirlwind world of e-learning. Sometime in late Spring 2013 I was surprised to be invited to speak at an international learning conference focusing heavily on the role of the MOOC in economic re-generation and empowerment.

“Not my topic” was my first thought but conversation with the organisers gave me insight that my lifelong passion for breaching the divide between education and the workplace was indeed relevant.

So it was that I found myself in Athens, the ancient seat of learning, in October 2013 for GUIDE Association’s VIth Conference. Never heard of GUIDE? Neither had I until this interaction!

The GUIDE Association is run out of University Marconi in Rome and is a global initiative of academics from 120 universities in 50 countries (mostly away from the mainstream) sharing ideas about the future of especially HE and its role in developing young people with skills for 21st century. Athens was about the potential that MOOC’s offer for transforming and re-aligning workplace preparation. It was refreshing to hear academics linking with policy creators and linking with the world of work to highlight successes and find ways forward as the world copes with and emerges from austerity.

The Athens meeting provided me with new avenues of thought – two of which have featured in my monthly column as EMEA Reporter for www.learningsolutionsmag.com. Mustafa Nasareddin’s incredible vision for and leadership of a national flipped classroom initiative from as far back as 1998 has transformed the skillbase, economic potential and female emancipation in the tiny country of Jordan. GUIDE’s own initiative to create one of the first portal of MOOC’s is an amazing idea, Know it All, presented in a really energizing way by Krista di Eleuterio (GUIDE Association International Relations Office) that I am told is now leading to even bigger linkages.

So to shift forward to 2014 and GUIDEs next venture is to another ancient seat of learning, Gauatemala, where the organization is seeking to provide stimulus to Central and South America – running a conference at the invitation of universities in that region.

The VII International GUIDE Conference "Culture in the Midst of Global Modernization: The Role of Distance Education", to be held at the Universidad Panamericana (Guatemala City) on April 10-11, 2014. The discussions will aim to analyze the different solutions developed by each country as a result of the combination of modernization and technological innovation.

Education systems all over the world have had to contend with globalization and international competitiveness, all while trying to preserve their own cultural identity. The Conference aims at analyzing the different solutions developed for integrating the use of new technologies and models into the higher education system, based on the specific characteristics and cultural context of each country.

The conference will address the following topics:
bullet Distance education: A strategy for development
bullet Distance education in the global and local workplace
bullet Quality assurance as a key to accessing the international educational system
bullet Technological and pedagogic innovation and its social implications
bullet Vices and virtues of the application of OERs and MOOCs in formal education (in collaboration with the OpenCourseWare Consortium)


Among the keynote speakers:
bullet Prof. Alessandra Briganti (General Secretary, GUIDE Association, IT)
bullet Magister Mynor Augusto Herrera Lemus (Rector, Universidad Panamericana, GT)
bullet Prof. Mandla S. Makhanya (Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of South Africa, ZA)
bullet Dr. Larry Cooperman (President, OpenCourseWare Consortium; University of California, Irvine, US)
bullet Dr. Guia Venturoli (Marconi University, IT)
bullet Dr. Jucimara Roesler (Universidad Tiradentes, BR)
bullet Dra. Katherina Edith Gallardo Córdova (Tecnológico de Monterrey, MX)
bullet Ing. Nidia Giorgis de Orozco (Educ@l, GT)
bullet Dr. Alba de González and Magister Miguel Ángel Franco (Universidad Panamericana, GT)

Virtual Open Conference
As part of its commitment to open content knowledge sharing, the GUIDE Association will videocast the Conference’s main sessions and is extending the opportunity for virtual presentations to its members and a selected group of experts and researchers.

I am privileged and excited to be participating again and I will have the opportunity to talk from the workplace viewpoint about issues in measurement, compliance, accreditation and assurance. That thinking will merge with work I am doing with Nigel Paine, spearheading the UK’s Learning and PerformanceInstitute’s International Thinktank work on creating effective learning interventions in different cultural contexts.

I am excitedly looking forward to finding more mind-bending and un-sung successes in e-learning from places I might, in my ignorance, have never thought to look!


If Guatemala yields even a fraction of the insight and ideas that came from Athens I will be returning home really excited and looking forward to November when GUIDE VIII will be hosted in Brazil – salivating at the thought of it!. 

Friday, 30 August 2013

GETTING INVOLVED IN SOCIAL LEARNING - SOME PRACTICAL STEPS (3)



My summer series, aiming to help people new to technology, social media  and internet supported learning understand, get involved and get some experience with the exciting new learning world…….. This post looks at some basics about online communities and discussion groups.

In a world of ever increasing choice, most of us do not enjoy the prospect of sitting down to a meal which has a fixed menu.  Even in many homes where a generation ago a fixed meal would have been served to all members of a family, different food is prepared to meet the tastes of individuals round the table. The same is true in every aspect of our lives. Increasing choice makes our lives more complex as we have to make decisions all the time where once we might have selected from a few options and lived with that choice for a long time. Energy, ISP and mobile devices, TV contracts, banking, insurance and many others are all examples of areas in our lives where switching has become almost a way of life as we seek for the best service at the lowest cost.

What is true in our personal lives  is also a feature of our professional lives, perhaps even accented by the ever increasing volume of information that is in the public domain and which our careers require us to assimilate, analyse and work from.

So how do we do it in a way that gives us efficiency and effectiveness and the assurance that we are accessing the best available information and good advice from trustworthy sources? As I am writing this post my friend and PLN member, Tom Spiglanin, is preparing a paper on exactly the same subject for the upcoming DevLearn Conference in Las Vegas in October. It is a hot topic!

In my last post I looked at the use of chat communities as a means of creating a PLN and of finding like-minded groups of professionals with whom to interact. The various chat communities provide the opportunity for direct interaction around specific topics on a periodic basis. 

Another means of interaction, again with like-minded professionals is through the use of the more passive media of platforms such as LinkedIn. For example, there are over 800 LinkedIn discussion groups relating to the energy industry.  All that is needed is to subscribe to the platform (free) and then to search it for groups of interest to you.  Most then require you to apply for group membership which is subject to approval by a group moderator (often the person who initiated the group in the first place). Within groups, members initiate and contribute to discussion topics to seek information, test ideas, form networks etc. Some groups have huge memberships and there is a need to be discriminating about both discussions and the people taking part in them.  Some are very active, others almost dormant.

For those of you reading this with a specific focus on learning, two really helpful places for online discussions are
·         The UK based learning and Skills Group which has over 50 000 global members and which hosts discussions on their behalf – you can join at http://tiny.cc/0cvm2w Membership is free.

·         eLearning Guild (USA based) which is another membership organisation. There is a tiered membership cost structure, with basic membership being free. The Guild hosts a range of discussion groups built around specific topics. http://tiny.cc/0cvm2w

The benefit of this kind of community is that it is available on a 24/7 basis – but of course the information flow is much slower than using the social media such as Twitter. Rather than functioning around a set “gathering” at a particular time, this kind of group relies on notifications of discussions and contributions to them being posted on subscribers emails and then on recipients taking the time to read and  respond.

Many professional organisations and other enterprises have smaller. More focussed communities which work on a similar basis. Marketers are increasingly using this mechanism as a means of creating customer loyalty, allying participation with a gamification element of incentive prizes. Suppliers of services frequently have discussion fora created for users of their services to ask questions, share experience and receive help, either from an internal “help” resource or from peers in the community.

If you can’t find communities that meet your need you can set up your own using Skype which has a group chat function, or platforms such as Yammer. Provided all the participants are subscribers to the platforms, these communities are free of charge. Yammer contains options to regulate who joins groups, providing control to the originator of the community. Skype groups are set up simply by adding selected contacts to the group – a task for the originator. Skype groups can function in text, audio or video mode (but there are restrictions for video discussions).

Something else to think about……

It is easy when first grappling with the technicalities of online communities to be so caught up in managing the mechanics of the platforms and learning the way people communicate in the various places that it is easy to forget that every member of every community is a human being – just like you! We all require respect and care from people with whom we interact. I have written a whole series of posts about the human aspects of communities at http://nicsinsights-communitiesatwork.blogspot.co.uk/ .


In my next post we will look at some of the many ways in which documents can be created and shared online.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

GETTING INVOLVED IN SOCIAL LEARNING - SOME PRACTICAL STEPS (2)



Continuing my summer series to help people new to technology, social media  and internet supported learning understand, get involved and get some experience with the exciting new learning world……..

In my last post I started to lead you through some of the media, tools, and other information sources that make up the sometimes bewildering field of modern learning. I encouraged you to get involved on Twitter as an individual – but there is more to Twitter than just being there with a network of followers and people you follow. 

Twitter has provided the vehicle for a large number of vibrant, informative and thoughtful communities in the learning field called Twitter chats. They have been created by and for people involved in the learning field at all levels and from all sectors of life – often providing a meeting place for education and workplace based people, strategists and instructional designers, vendors and consultants, enterprises and institutions etc. The point is to have places where people with a common interest can share, discuss, seek help, ask questions for debate, provide resources, make contacts. Some that I have personally found useful and which are frequently referred to by members of my PLN (Personal Learning Network) are:

#chat2lrn – alternate Thursdays at 1600UK time
#lrnchat – every Thursday 20.30 Eastern time
#edchat – every Tuesday 12.00 and 19.00 Eastern time
#swchat – every Thursday 16.00 Eastern time

You can find directories of Twitter chats through your browser and search engine. Some of them are easily searchable, others less so and new #chats are coming into being regularly.  It is by building your own network that you will discover new ones that people in the field find useful.

HOW DO #CHATS WORK?

Many #chats have an associated URL – either a full website or a blog which outlines their purpose, who is behind them and gives detail of how they work.

Basically one “joins” a chat by logging onto it and then responding to what happens next!  Mostly those running the chat will announce a topic to be discussed and will follow this with a series of questions for the chat to respond to at intervals throughout it. Some #chats offer pre-reading so that people come to the chat focussed on the topic. To contribute to the chat, simply write a tweet and conclude it with the # tag and the name of the chat (eg #lrnchat, #chat2lrn). It will be posted in the chat stream and everyone present has the benefit of seeing and being able to respond to it.

Until you have a real feel for how #chats work, my suggestion is to log in and then “lurk” – watch what is going on without contributing. Some #chats have over 100 participants from all over the world and the action has huge pace to it - sometimes almost overwhelming, but what is being generated is a huge, rich collection of ideas, contacts, sources etc which are normally transcribed and made available after the event for a more relaxed study.

A moment will come when you decide you are confident enough and “just have to” contribute – so post your tweet and wait for responses……

To take part in #chats on Twitter many people use a client to enable them to follow the stream of the chat.  What is a twitter client? It is another piece of free downloadable software that allows you to follow the stream of the conversation while a chat is taking place.  Two clients that I and my PLN find useful are Twubs (http://twubs.com) and www.tchat.io. I also use Tweetdeck which allows me to view my chosen streams of Twitter activity all from the same screen.

My personal experience is that I have massively increased my own network of professional contacts through the use of Twitter.  It is one of my most important tools for finding new information and for seeking assistance with my work.


The next post in this series will look at some other types of public online communities that are useful for learning.

Monday, 19 August 2013

GETTING INVOLVED IN SOCIAL LEARNING - SOME PRACTICAL STEPS (1)


If you have read my previous post and are still with me in this summer series looking at some of the basics of modern, technology and internet enabled learning then now is the time to “taste the banana”!

In this and my next posts I am going to list some of the posts and books to read, clips to view, platforms to join, people to follow, conferences to track, chat sessions with which to get involved.  Because it is only by experiencing some of the dazzling array of “goodies” that are out there that any of us can make the necessary choices, experience the buzz that is learning today, and make decisions about where to take one’s own and our organisation’s journey in learning. So have fun…..

When I was a little boy I was scared of water so I took a long time to learn to swim and especially to dive. My mother saw my fear and allowed me for several days to sit on the edge of the pool and work out for myself what to do, gently coaching me from time to time. My father repeatedly demonstrated what had to be done but it was not until I was ready that I finally left the board for the first time. Why do I tell you this? Because however convincing the arguments have been, and how firmly the end point of “tasting the banana” is in your mind, it is not until you have the emotional energy to take the plunge that anything will happen – and we all need confidence to go into new places. We have to want to try – and have enough drive to do it.

So for those who need a little more assistance before taking the plunge have a look at Jane Hart’s Social Learning Handbook http://c4lpt.co.uk/social-learning-handbook/ , available on the internet or from www.lulu.com . Jane explains very simply and clearly what is happening in learning and the book contains chapters on “getting started with……” for several social media platforms.

We know that 90% of learning happens in informal environments.  Whether it is around the coffee machine or water cooler, through asking advice from a colleague in the corridor or via an e-mail, seeking help with a practical demonstration, the chances are in our modern world it will also be through using the media.  Everyone uses Google from young children onwards, but Google has no process of peer review.  What better way is there then to find information you need from a reliable source than to tap in to a peer network? In professional circles it is unlikely that poor or unsafe information will go unnoticed, critiqued and modified or removed, so joining professional circles – or even creating your own – is a fast and reliable way of finding what you need. Joining online communities will also provide you with an ever expanding and 24/7 available network of potential assistance. For organisations, the use of the social media to create learning communities and communities of practice is a really practical way of ensuring that tacit organisational knowledge is spread and retained in the business.

What better way to get started then than to get a Twitter account from www.twitter.com (Twitter has its own guide to getting started on the platform https://support.twitter.com/articles/215585#) and start following some people in the field to see what they are saying both on Twitter and on the blogs that many of them write? Twitter is one of the platforms most widely used by learning professionals to develop their personal Learning networks. Maybe when you are comfortable you will ask a question, write a reply or simply re-tweet a comment you find particularly valuable. Why not start by “following” me on Twitter @alc47 and then following some of the people I follow because they give me insight, share news and provide help. With no offence to the many whose advice I value so much, but where space here forbids, I suggest the following short list to get you started:

Jane Hart @c4lpt 
Jane Bozarth @janebozarth
Dave Kelly @lnddave 
Nigel Paine @ebase 
Charles Jennings @charlesjennings 
Marcia Conner @marciamarcia 
Clive Shepherd @cliveshepherd 
Steve Wheeler @timbuckteeth
Rob Hubbard @robhubbard
Patti Shank @pattishank
Harold Jarche @hjarche
Sumeet Moghe @sumeet_moghe
Donald Taylor @donaldhtaylor
Lesley Price @lesleywprice
Tom Spiglanin @tomspiglanin
Ben Betts @bbetts
Laura Overton @lauraoverton

Go to www.twitter.com and search these names – you will see their professional profiles there and you can decide for yourself! A more extensive (but in some places the profiles are out of date) list is at Bit.ly/hnfBma

You can even practice tweeting by asking me for more names!

Looking forward to seeing your Tweets…….


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH LEARNING TODAY



Post number 4 in my summer series to help people first understand, and then start to experience, and enjoy the fantastic world that is modern learning.  To taste is to enrich.....

The first step is to get a practical understanding of the world we are now living in – and what better way than to do that with a few stats! We are living with the outcomes of a revolution that has happened to every human being over the last 15 years. It is called the internet and with it has come the social media and a huge change in the way we communicate, share information, and indeed view our lives.  But first the statistics….

There is now more than a mobile device for every person on the planet – of course not everyone has one and some have more than three, but what it means is that we can, and do, connect with orders of magnitude more people than we did just a few years ago. And it is instant – we no longer even write emails to people. Yes, we do of course but email was eclipsed long ago by the volume of texts, IM’s etc that fill the cyber space. WhatsApp, one of the newer messaging services and with a footprint that is by no means global, now handles over 31 billion items a day – more than Twitter which itself eclipses email! There are nearly three times as many Facebook users as are subscribers to Outlook. I could go on – for those of you interested in trawling the stats have a look at http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/ .

But the lesson is clear. We all have devices and platforms that enable us to communicate in new ways – and we are doing it! (Still not convinced – then look at Erik Qualman’s stunning video that highlights our new world). It has happened at the expense of traditional methods! Why? Because the new methods are more effective for individuals. We have found them to work first in our social lives and so, naturally we take them into the work environment.  That is exactly the reverse of the way organisations and employee development evolved over the last century – during which the organisation decided what was right for its compliant workforce (we called it Leadership.by the way, but forgot that the “L” stands for Listening at the beginning and the “P” is for People at the end – everything else is in between making it happen).

So it is now imperative that talent hungry organisations respond to the social environment and create scenarios for talented people that enable them to thrive and innovate, otherwise they will not align or perform, and will not stay or even join in the first place. Paternalism, autocracy and even structure and rules are becoming outdated. The name of the game is to become specifically and intensely aware of how people communicate, how they want to learn and how they can be helped along paths they have determined for themselves. Of course there is lots the organisation can do to help its people create the environment that makes them successful – but that is for a later post in this series

This clip from a talk by Jason Fried takes a look at the implications for how effective work gets done http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5XD2kNopsUs

How then do we “Get to grips” with Learning today?  The great American evangelist Dr Billy Graham used an illustration when challenging people to meet God – “What does a banana taste like?” he asked them. “No-one can describe that taste – the only way to know is to try it”. You cannot stand on the side and observe learning – by definition you are involved in it. Therefore to understand it we have to explore it, use its techniques, experience the support of online communities, feel the power of the technology to open up new learning horizons. So in my next post I will be listing resources that I have personally found helpful and “tasty”.

To end this post I quote Lisa Goldstein, someone who I came to respect first through our mutual involvement in an online community, and who I subsequently  met and who has become a true part of my own learning network. 

I think an important element an organization must have is the ability to care.  I could be wrong, but it appears that when an organization / superior cares about the best outcomes for their subordinates, it is obvious and makes the difference.  I've heard small and large organizations say they do not care and do not invest in their staff because they think it unimportant.  Employees who are happy about learning opportunities and are supported are in such a situation either because their superiors truly care and want the best for their employees, or because the employee has been empowered enough through independent power, resources, and money to take care of their own needs. “

As with parenting – there is a time to let go, watch people fly, and be ready to help when they need it – but it takes courage!


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

SO HOW DOES OUR NEW LEARNING WORLD WORK RIGHT NOW?

This is the 3rd post in my summer series which tries to help people in organisations who have not yet addressed the internet and social media revolution and its impact on learning to understand what is happening.

That’s a question that is often asked and there is really no clear answer because it is a very mixed up world.  On the one hand, as I described in the first post in this series, there has been a massive shift in the way individuals and the social community at large interact, share and learn from one another. However, as always, organisations are much slower in adapting to the social changes around them – which puts those who cannot adapt and become agile at risk.

Before I begin to give some practical suggestions in my next post there is one important area that I need to explore to complete the scenario in which we are now working.

The shift from hierarchy through wirearchy to something very unpredictable is a challenge for organisations built around strategy, structure, process and procedure. It strikes at the very heart of the way they were created and have evolved to succeed over long periods of time. They evolved from military command and control thinking which held sway until after the 2nd World War.

The world has changed and enterprises in every sector of our society now need to re-examine their value proposition and the culture and organisation processes that enable them to continue to create value. Open information and the breakdown of societal belief in privacy means that there needs to be a re-think of what is Intellectual Property. Crudely, the answer is that there is much less than many would like to believe. Where then is the value in an organisation’s tacit knowledge? What is saleable from knowledge based companies (and academia and training organisations)? How do they seek to engage people in the culture of all this openness?

Before I attempt to address the exciting and fast moving world of the emergent new directions, platforms and tools in the learning arena, I need to step back once again and look at how sharing is now happening in the workplace and what that means for those whose work is in focussing that interaction to improve performance – managers and enterprise leaders.

The communications revolution challenges not just the formal but also the informal elements of organisations. Two in particular come under scrutiny – team working and leadership. For decades organisational hierarchies have been obsessed by trying to create coherence amongst employees in order to create alignment, focus, effectiveness and efficiency. The new order questions all of those dimensions as it works from a self-starting, self-regulating, self-motivating model that only aligns itself to anything corporate so long as it meets the individual’s perceived needs.

Human Resource thinking is still archaically chasing concepts like on-boarding, competency profiles and job descriptions as processes and procedures.  While they are doing that, the world around them is interested in individual relationships, feelings of belonging and access to information when it is needed. Jef Staes describes it as the creation of a generation of sheep. The connection between the organisation and its people is not working. Organisations are not adapting fast enough to the paradigms of the people on whom they depend. Closed minds in IT departments, rigid authority levels, outdated rules about working hours, rigidity in process and procedure are all part of the same equation.

Leadership is not about hierarchy, seniority, position, power and structure. In the modern world it is about enabling, supporting, opening doors, trust, freedom, listening and building on ideas.  So the old maxims of teams become outdated. People will find their own relationships, using the power of the connected world to help themselves move forward in their work and their lives. They no longer need to be told what to do and to be herded and regulated into doing it. The revolution means they will do it themselves – inside or outside of company firewalls! Restrictions hold up work and productivity.  Far-fetched? No-one knows yet, but what is certain is that the constraints and shackles of traditional organisation theory and practice are being swept away.

As a young Training Officer, I grew up in, and became a passionate promoter of team working. Inter-disciplinary collaboration, common direction, belief in one another, recognition and mutual harnessing of skills were the orders of the day.  Still relevant?  Some believe not – and I am coming to the conclusion that the concept of team as we knew it even 10 years ago is rapidly disappearing. We now talk about the positive deviant, the age of innovation, the focus on individual contribution. We have technology and tools that may be making that close bonding less relevant. The concept of Parallel Working is gaining ground – using emerging technology which expresses these ideas to enable people who in the extreme may may not initially even know of one another but who are aiming towards similar goals to share information, to organise it in ways that are useful to them and to share whatever seems important in order to help one another. 

It may not even be happening within the organisation – collaboration of this kind (crowdsourcing is a good example) is frequently amongst a diverse and global 24/7 community that rapidly assembles, does its work and disappears again. The concept of an organisation owning a community is problematic unless all its members agree it is closed and inaccessible to the outside world. What is clearly emerging is an ever increasing focus on contribution and value add.  So how does that happen in a modern organisation?


Without repeating myself, the characteristics are already laid out earlier in this series. Achieving them is a huge challenge – as we un-learn the ways we have learned in the past and enter into the realms of the virtual – classrooms, teams, communities, immersive worlds and beyond. New business models, transformed ways of co-ordinating work, providing access to information, breaking the restrictive taboos of IT, compliance etc will be a rocky road, but one on which those who think openly and with a “what if” mentality are more likely to succeed.

Next time I will highlight some of the possibilities that are already being widely exploited.

Monday, 29 July 2013

UNLEARNING TO LEARN AGAIN – RE-EDUCATION IN LEARNING



This is the second post in my summer 2013 series designed to help people in the business world who have little understanding of modern learning and how it has been influenced by the connectedness of the internet

Over 15 years Andy Murray, the 2013 Wimbledon Men's Tennis Champion, honed his skills through endless hours of practice, analysis, experimentation, conceptualisation and incredibly hard work. From being a little boy he has had a burning ambition to be the best and above all, to win Wimbledon. He is exceptionally talented, a magnificent athlete and fired by a burning and passionate desire for success. That he has everything needed for success would be the conventional wisdom.  However since his emergence in a generation of tennis players that includes some of the best the world has ever seen he has struggled to reach the pinnacle. Now he has achieved it, so what has changed?

Actually nothing - but everything of course!   Murray's story is one of single minded and at times ruthless pursuit of everything that could lead to his excellence. Over the years he selected, fired and replaced a team of people to support him, seeking all the time for people in whom he had trust and with whom he developed a chemistry that bound them all together towards a single goal. Family, coaches, and experts came and went as Andy built his own Personal Leaning Network. The final step (to this point in a still evolving story) was the appointment of the unlikely, ice cool, hard man of tennis in Ivan Lendl. No previous coaching experience, out of the sport for 20 years, but an example of the chaotic and unpredictable journey that is learning. Something in Andy said "this is the man, someone in whom I can place my trust". Lendl meets Murray infrequently. He sits stony faced at court side at some tournaments. Apparently he says little, but the bond between the two greats is there for all to see. And as they say "the rest is history!"

What does this have to do with learning and especially leaning in the workplace?  Andy Murray's early tennis life was traditional. Lessons and coaching at school and the local tennis club, accelerated development through regional structures once his talent had been noticed, but then a break with the normal. Andy left the system - a system in Britain that has failed to produce anything like a Wimbledon Champion over 75 years - helped by a supportive mother who, despite being a part of that very system, recognised that it was not going to do what was needed. Overseas living, coaching regimes and relationships of varying lengths and quality, relationship turbulence with those around him that inevitably led to change, all of it a true example of the rhizonomy analogy of what is happening in learning.

Andy is an individual, and that is the point. Through his phenomenal will to succeed, he has done everything that he has seen as necessary to get to where he now is. He did not go to a conventional coach - he went outside of every established structure to find what he needed. He took in, used, discarded and moved on. He is a living illustration of modern learning, acquiring what he needed at the time he needed from whatever source he could find.

Murray is a special talent but his story has relevance to all of us involved in supporting workplace learning.

First we need to recognise that every one of us is an individual and all of our learning needs are different. We also need to recognise that they change over time. Formal training is important for some things, rigorous (but relevant!) assessment for others, but the basic journey has to be in the charge of and aligned to the individual to obtain their complete commitment to it. It is much more about the context, culture and environment than it is about the content. One size does not fit all - so a rigid curriculum, timetable, methodology, learning group and everything else that goes with our institutional learning is unlikely to lead reliably to exceptional performance. With the new external culture, constraints on organisations on their resources of time and money, new ways of thinking are required that enable the "Lendl factor" to become a reality for each student.

Learning is now, more than ever, a partnership if it is to be successful. It is centred around the individual but has to include management, peers, and experts at the workplace, tutors, mentors and coaches in institutions and an open culture that allows the freedom and access to information from whatever source that facilitates absorption, reflection, conceptualisation, experimentation and the devoted pursuit of skill.

In the future a continuance of rigid institutional regimes whether school, tertiary provider, commercial training company or workplace training function, will see them at increasing dissonance with the culture, drivers and actions of the learner. In today' fast moving, instant and unpredictable world institutions will need to demonstrate an agility, flexibility and real desire and commitment to listen to what learners want. Towards Maturity's 2012 study reveals just how far our provision is from understanding the needs of learners. What is needed at every level is a learner centred thought through strategy and new operational and business models to provide information and support that is needed.

Where organisational and cultural taboos hinder the implementation of change, they need to be swept away. Some examples would include unnecessary firewall protection of information and access to the Internet and the media, adherence to traditional assessment methodologies that are at best outdated and in many cases meaningless, functioning through attendance based curricula, the promotion of the "course" as the means to learning, demanding payment for content that is in the public arena and freely available. All of these frequently observed blockages are at variance with the modern learning world. They need to be challenged, reformed and re-designed to meet the needs of the individual who is the customer. New revenue streams will need to be defined, skill sets of the learning community upgraded and supported, management of information bases re-designed.

(readers of this post might also find it interesting to read Dan Coyle’s discoveries about learning )