Monday, 4 February 2008

Learning Technologies review

I picked up some useful pointers on using learning technologies and social media when I was presented at this year’s Learning Technologies conference last week. , but my main take aways were from the sessions more focused on learning itself.

Jay Cross was spot as as usual – have a look at Nigel Paine's live blog on this.

I particularly liked Jay’s points on the need to think about organisations from a biological rather than a mechanistic perspective – based upon “Einstein’s and Bohr’s contributions, but also because ‘we can feel it in our guts that (the machine model) isn’t true anymore’ ”.

This means that predefined organisation design can only take us so far – “things are too complicated to be engineered, but nature will find a way” – so we need to trust that everything will work out for itself – without a master pan. This fits with a lot of my consulting experience, but Jay expresses the new world more colourfully.
It also means that the use of measurement is naturally limited - “you can’t predict anything, because you can’t be sure what people are able to do”. This message didn’t seem to get through to everyone – the conference featured some fairly heated discussion about how we should best measure learning, and the rights and wrongs of Kirkpatrick, but little on whether we really need to bother measuring learning that is increasingly informal, and outputs that are increasingly intangible, at all (or certainly in a mechanistic way).

Still, it was a really excellent conference, and I was delighted to be part of it. Well done Don, and all concerned. My next post will cover some of my post-conference thoughts on the role of technology in learning and the development of organisational capability.