Sunday, 24 July 2011

Response to the Epic e-Learning Debate

I support the motion in the 2011 Epic e-Learning debate
This house believes that as social learning grows, so the requirement for  traditional training departments shrinks
First, social learning is not a fad, it is not something new and it is not something that since the evolution of humankind has ever had a date on it. It is a fundamental part of our humanity. As humans we learn by interaction – that is social learning – nothing more nothing less.
Secondly, the motion is not about the end, death-knell, diminution of an L&D function. In supporting the motion I strongly back Jane Hart’s explanation . The motion is not about Training departments per se diminishing as a result of social learning. Rather it is about the fact that the traditional training department has run its course – with the opportunity now to powerfully transform itself, if it will, into a true business added value function by leveraging new technologies to become a key business partner.
It is self-evident that Financial Directors, who are not for the most part fools, respond to strategic business decisions to cut costs by looking for savings from areas that line managers do not believe add value to their businesses. I have been personally involved from both sides in enough Overhead Value Added studies over 20 years to know that training gets cuts when managers cannot relate any benefit to the expended effort and expenditure. That is why “Training” budgets get cut.
It is only when added value is seen that budgets are maintained or even increased as the business challenges mount. The fact that the traditional Training function has chosen to stick stubbornly to outdated teaching methods (often hiding behind dressing them up in fancy clothes and calling them e-learning of the worst kind) is the cause of its dramatic decline. Their cost benefit is not seen – and in many cases there is no perceived benefit at all – a total mismatch between what the Training function believes it is doing and what management sees is being delivered
Recognising that traditional training, whether face to face or enhanced by the wonderful range of new tools, is only a constituent part of the learning spectrum – albeit one that enhances what can be done purely by social interaction for certain aspects – provides a way back for L&D to where it should be – at the centre of business strategy and performance improvement. If L&D cannot recognise that, then in the end it deserves what will surely happen to it – oblivion. It will be replaced by something else – which will be a ubiquitous, community driven culture of sharing and self-driven learning which is now developing strongly throughout society and in which “training ” will have to find a new place to stand. What is that called? Social learning expressed in the business environment!
Right now, there is the opportunity to take a lead and help the transformation – but not with blinkered and denial ridden attitudes.
If you believe that L&D has a future as an important function in organisations then you only have one choice – support the motion!”

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Online Journeys in Learning

With permission, I re-post here Steve Batchelder's honest and simple story of becoming engaged in the social media and social learning world.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did - thanks Steve!


Okay I confess - I used to be a lurker - there that's it, I've admitted it to the world.

I used to read blogs etc and take a lot of information, knowledge and learning from many of the people I followed but I never participated, made a comment or added my own thoughts to the stream in any way other than beyond sharing what I had learnt through my work - verbally recommending sites and articles to others.

Then I decided to take part in
Share and Learn and that for me was a breakthrough experience. I joined in I shared and I learned. I became active on Twitter, signed up for FB, started a blog, began tentatively commenting on a few other blogs, followed and joined a backchannel or two and more recently joined Google+ where I am again beginning to join in some of the conversations. I've conversed with people I don't know and will probably never meet and whom I would never have imagined myself actually communicating with and have found the whole experience to be beneficial, positive and empowering.

Why did I lurk for so long? I don't really know beyond not knowing if what I had to say would be well received and not understanding the massive added benefit of joining in in terms of shaping thoughts and idea's and contributing in some way to the vast flow of ideas.

This post was inspired by @Sahana2802 who has written a great post on lurkers here at
Lurking is not a static state the post really made me think and it describes some of my own experiences in moving from lurker to being more active in what I do.

The post also makes it clear that lurking is not some form of nasty disease or a behaviour that should be frowned upon instead it is a legitimate form of participation.

This is a very valuable lesson in that even with the relatively small number of people and the 70+ blogs I follow I could not participate or comment on each post or tweet or other form of communication.

This notion is supported by Nic Laycock's recent post on
Communities of choice - dealing with overload & thats why I am a semi retired lurker theres too much going on to join in with everything and so I have to pick and mix what I will respond to based upon my own interests and preferences.

(Steve's post was originally published at

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

2011 Skills for L&D – The time for “Just in Time”

Thought provoking, Craig! ( How does the alcoholic, trauma victim, redundant employee or drug addict begin to get help?  The answer always given is "When they get to their point of need" - and that it is pointless trying to force someone to that help before they realise their need for it.  But it has to be both available and accessible when that unpredictable moment is reached.

So what's the parallel and how does it apply to us in L&D? Assuming we believe in the "point of need" and "just in time" pillars of the "learning is work and work is learning" collaborative model - our role in L&D is twofold.  The first is to help the people we are supporting with the mindset adjustment to a point of saying "It's OK to ask for help".  The second is our own adjustment to a position where we are able to provide resources (contacts, information, even courses!) to respond to the need once it is realised. 

"It's OK to ask for help" is about an ecology in the workplace where, to quote from Dr Terry Moss, a line manager with an incredible record in empowerment of people, "There is no crime in failing so long as you have asked for help along the way. There is culpability in not seeking assistance".  So the message there is that in L&D we need to do everything in our power to foster a culture in which people work confidently and feel able to experiment, knowing that the necessary support is available to them. I posted about this a while ago. (

If the first requirement is difficult the second challenge is major.  The L&D person of the decade is very different from the Trainer or Instructor of the past. He needs a network that can truly be mutually helpful, an understanding of the business he works in that allows him to identify the real need and respond to it, the people skills to get alongside colleagues, a knowledge of the tools, platforms, repositories etc that can provide help. She also needs a sensitivity to be able to take each person with whom they deal along a path into the networked collaborative world which meets their need and speed of learning, and which neither scares them nor overwhelms them with the twin threats of constantly evolving tools and changing communication norms.

The path along which to lead someone to build their confidence as they foray into the wirearchy is a whole topic on its own.  I will be writing about that later!