Learning scenarios of the future (Find 15: 16-20 January)

Last week I decided to save up my Find 15 slots and attend Chat2Lrn – a new tweetchat, and my first.

If you’ve not yet been initiated into the world of the tweetchat, it’s a scheduled conversation on Twitter using an agreed hashtag to bring all contributors together.

Last Thursday, 60 people joined the first Chat2Lrn, sending nearly 800 tweets in an hour!

Once I’ve attended a few more, I’ll try to share some of my tips for making the most of them. (In the meantime, take a look at David Kelly’s post.) For now though, a quick report of last week’s chat will do.

Before the tweetchat we were pointed towards a document summarising four learning scenarios of the future. These scenarios were the outcome of a challenge given to delegates at Business Educa in December, when they were asked to consider what workplace learning will look like 10 years from now. As Chat2Lrn put it: ‘taking a bit of time to look at some possible scenarios for the future will help us understand both the freedoms and constraints that we are likely to encounter in the years ahead.’

After initial introductions, @Chat2Lrn posted a series of questions at regular intervals throughout the hour:

  •  On the scenario model, where do you see your organisation now?
  • What will the world be like in 2020, economically, socially, technologically?
  • What major changes does that vision suggest for organisations?
  • What changes will be required for learning in supporting organisations?
  • What opportunities open up for learning to add value to organisations?

There’s a full transcript available if you want to catch up on the entire conversation, but here are some of the things that stuck in my mind most:

  • Most of us seemed to be aspiring to the flexible, individualistc and enabled side of the learning scenario model. When it comes to distinguishing between a data-driven approach and a relationship-driven approach, the consensus was less clear. It seems our vision for the future is one where relationships and data are equally important.
  • It seems inevitable that in 2020, we will be ‘on’ and connected all the time. The implications of this include if not the loss of a healthy work/life balance at least further erosion of clear distinctions between the two, and greater adoption of home and remote working. Near-universal connectivity and more non-office working in turn mean personal brand will become increasingly important, and managing that brand as well as ‘breaking through the noise’ will become core competencies.
  • Agility was something that came up time and time again in the discussion. Businesses will need to become quicker at adapting to change if they are to thrive. The Towards Maturity 2011-12 Learning Technology Benchmark, Boosting Business Agility, takes a close look at this and how learning technology can help achieve it.
  • Many people commented on the expectations of employees and learners in the future. Navigating the wealth of resources out there will be second nature to people joining the workforce, and they’ll expect to be able to make use of technology to help them work, learn and perform. They’ll expect more trust from their organisations and there’s potential for the role of L&D to become one of supporting, guiding and facilitating learning – helping people do it themselves, rather than delivering it to them.
  • On the other hand, many contributers pointed out that 2020 isn’t really that far away and that we’re perhaps being a little over-ambitious. Many of the things we’re talking about (like a focus on performance rather than learning, and more peer learning than top-down learning) we’ve been talking about as an industry for years. Realistically, can we expect big corporates to loosen the reins, remove the firewalls and allow employees the freedom to determine their own technology-enabled learning within that timeframe?
  • The last question prompted some really interesting responses. For example, we have an opportunity to really position learning as part of the workflow (rather than as an interruption to it), and to be (and be seen as) the people who improve workplace performance. This made me think of Don Taylor’s recent article about what we in L&D really do, and his conclusion that we’re the people who make it possible for organisations to deliver on their promises.

All in all, it was a fascinating discussion. Some challenging questions, a fast-moving conversation to follow, and a lot of food for thought – I’m still mulling over many of the questions and responses, and am looking forward to finding out what the next Chat2Lrn topic will be.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2 thoughts on “Learning scenarios of the future (Find 15: 16-20 January)

  1. Hans de Zwart

    Reblogged this on Learning Scenarios and commented:
    Stephanie Dedhar’s Summary of last week’s Chat2Lrn session on the Berlin Learning Scenarios adds some real clear points about what these scenarios might mean for the role of learning and development in the near future. Well worth the read.


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