Wednesday, 18 May 2011

THE FIRST IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST – BUT TIPS THE SCALES TO A NEW STANDARD


Last Saturday, Manchester City won the FA Cup, their first trophy in a quarter of a century.  They have huge ambition.  Their manager said “the first trophy is the hardest, we will do great things from here” (or words to that effect – he is Italian and his English is not perfect!).  The same day Manchester United won their 19th Premiership title and the 12th for Sir Alex Ferguson and the ageless Ryan Giggs.  Reminiscing, Giggs said of the first of those titles in 1993 “The first was the hardest”.

Last week I wrote about Share and Learn (www.c4lpt.co.uk/shareandlearn )as a tipping point in learning.  Jane Hart and her close colleagues and enlightened friends in the Internet Time Alliance and in other places have worked, planned and campaigned very hard for years to achieve the tipping point.  Finally it has come and the immediate acclaim for the new collaborative platform has been nothing short of sensational. A week later it has over 200 members.

Last week was a tremendous moment for Jane and all those who have for long recognised the evolving paradigm shift and its inevitable consequence on the way learning is perceived in a collaborative, networked workplace and more broadly in global society. Jay Cross, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings, Clark Quinn, Jane Bozarth, Marcia Conner, and the many other equally eminent and foresighted people too numerous to mention who have walked the road will breathe a huge sigh of relief that the breakthrough seems to have happened at last. I am sure a few hearts celebrated and a few corks popped.

What breakthrough?  I am of course talking about Share and Learn being the first collaborative platform that starts from the basis of social learning while at the same time recognising the on-going place of the formal in the spectrum of learning – and providing within the platform for both courseware and an LMS where this is necessary.

I know from having worked for a global market leader in the corporate environment earlier in my career that being No.1 is very hard – one is very visible and easy to copy.  But that is Jane’s greatness – always willing to share her insights and ideas!

Speaking of which………but.as it happens, unconnected……

Last week saw another, lower key, but significant launch….

Noddlepod (www.noddlepod.com) is a space in which learning at an individual level can be explored and personally organised. A paid-for application, it does something different, which is consultations prior to launch has caught the eye of some influential figures from various parts of the learning environment.  Noddlepod allows the individual to create their own learning framework – future, current and past, to collect together learning objectives, progress and outcomes under a self-determined set of “pins” designed to highlight key learning.

The application describes itself as

“Simple, informal, collaborative

Noddlepod is a collaboration tool for parallel working. It solves the problem of isolation when working and learning, and creates an environment of mutual support.

This is a collaboration tool focused not on the groups work, but on the individuals work in a group context.”

So, while Noddlepod can be an individual tool, it is also a place where people can come together (directed or by social consent) to plan and share learning which is then pursued in parallel.  Learning projects can be structured and monitored by an institution or the application can be used eg in Executive Development to provide a place for participants in a programme to plan experience, share findings and draw conclusions.  It is about common process combined with individual learning.

In some ways similar to Share and Learn in its range of functionality, but very different in that Share and Learn is based on an open source CMS (Wordpress), and so offers more of a “make it what you want” approach. Noddlepod fills a space for those who want a more structured, purpose-built platform that begins from the personal and works towards the community.

So now we have, almost simultaneously two offerings – each of which will influence the way forward as learning becomes indistinguishable for work and life.

Just to conclude with a further reference to my football analogy – Manchester United were the first English team to enter the European Cup in the 1950’s.  It took them a huge amount of pain and over a decade to win it.  Other English clubs entered the competition and England now boasts a distinguished list of past winners.  After their tipping point in 1993 Manchester United have gone on to dominate English football for nearly 20 years – many try to emulate, few have shown any sign of enduring success. 

Well done to those who are brave and determined enough to stick their necks out and work towards a long term vision.  In Learning we are beginning to have the tools to match the environment in which we live – we now need to ride the wave and use those tools as business partners to demonstrate the value of L&D to our organisations.

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