A TIPPING POINT IN LEARNING – “SHARE AND LEARN” OPENS A NEW ERA!
“Since it was started in March I have been active in Jane Hart’s highly successful Social Learning Community which now has over 700 members drawn globally from the whole spectrum of learning. It has become the community of choice for many leading thinkers in learning. But a few days ago, Jane Hart asked me to take a look at her new initiative, the Share&Learn collaboration platform, which she launched earlier this week.
Jane’s explanation of the philosophy underpinning Share&Learn was enough for me to explore thoroughly. When I saw the practical application of her thinking I recognised that Share&Learn may well in future be recognised as a tipping point in our understanding of learning, and heralds a new era in the way learning is viewed and supported.
Leading thinkers in learning, including Jane’s colleagues in the Internet Time Alliance have for a long while promoted the realisation that learning is ubiquitous and is an integral and indistinguishable part of our lives as human beings. That insight leads to the conclusion that the differentiation of learning from ordinary life that has become ingrained in every aspect of our society has to change. We have to get back to understanding that “Work is Learning and Learning is Work” (Harold Jarche). As our increasingly networked world merges work and discretionary time, that concept extends to “Life is learning and Learning is Life”. To this point that last concept has been a philosophy rather than a reality. Technology changes that – Share& Learn is the first platform I’ve seen that enables the concept.
For a few years the impact of technology, both the growth of Social Media and the explosion of tools produced to deliver, administer, track, record, and report on learning have massively expanded the opportunities for the Learning and Development community. The range is at the same time breath-taking and baffling – and in many places has led the L&D community further away from the line management and organisational leadership it is there to serve. The complexity is such that the customer just does not understand and so marginalises the undoubted advances. The same is true in different ways throughout the education system where entrenched beliefs about methodologies block new understandings of the way learning happens.
Concurrently with the explosion in tools and techniques there has been a growth in society in measuring almost any activity we undertake – even our skill in making cup-cakes has become the domain of intense competition and precise measurement! That norm, fuelled by the Quality movement (“If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it”), led to the growth of the Learning Management System. Initially designed to assist administration, the LMS quickly became an enterprise tool for the L&D Community, gathering into its arms content management, course curricula, and delivery.
The move to social learning and the realisation of its ubiquitous nature challenges the LMS because of its rooting in formal learning. LMS vendors have tried, unsuccessfully, to bolt various applications on to their offerings that purport to integrate social learning. They fail because the paradigm is incorrect.
It is now well established that the huge majority of learning does not happen in the classroom – or in any of its formal derivatives, virtual or face to face. The 70:20:10 model illustrates the predominance of learning happening through application, experience and interaction with other people.
Jane’s Share&Learn platform is a new concept. It is premised on the paradigm that 90% of learning comes through channels other than the formal. It provides numerous ways of exploring collaborative learning. Recognising that formal learning, and its tracking and recording, (required for compliance purposes) have an on-going place in the structure of L&D and in Education, the platform contains the facility both to run courses and to record them using LMS-type functionality - as required.
The tipping point has finally been reached – we have a practical tool that embodies the new paradigm. In response to a tweet asking Jane if she thought that Share&Learn signalled the end of the LMS, she replied that it was perhaps the “death knell”, a view endorsed by none other than Charles Jennings (Principal in the Internet Time) who thought that at least it was the end of the LMS “as we know it”.