Saturday, March 27, 2004

Technology and training

New technologies are being used in T&D, but like most technologies they are used to a fraction of their true potential. I don't mean that the "obvious" and simplistic application of the technologies should be more widespread (heaven forbid), but that vastly more creative or intensive intelligent application of existing technologies is possible. "E-learning" on the whole is regarded as pretty dire not because of technology but because it is all too often invoked in an uninspired mundane or lazy fashion. We are awe-struck by new things, get slightly more familiar with them, then don't want to venture beyond that comfort zone. Look at e-mail or blogs: the technologies that deliver them are capable of much more sophisticated, friendly, user-focused communication, yet we are content to live with "this".

Mobile Internet access, particularly cell-phones, excite me. Anytime anywhere used to mean anytime you were at a computer linked by a dial-up modem to an ISP. Now it means while standing in line at the post office. What we DO with that connectedness is a blank slate. I have a personal interest in the use of the Internet as one of the tools to help economic development in Africa, a notoriously infrastructure-devoid part of the world. The 1990's concept of the Internet assumed desktop computers linked to landlines or cables, few of which exist in Africa. But cellphones are much more widespread and affordable. A "computer" is no longer a gray box on a desk -- it's a cellphone or something like it. And the Internet is not restricted by wires -- it's in the air around us. The implications for education, teacher training, teaching support, small business development and so on are significant.

In the context of learning, and using 'product' loosely, I'd say the exploitation of data-mining and search technologies is the most under-rated product today. Even in e- commerce it is not used anywhere near its potential. We mine lead and cast dull gray ingots. It is still a primary industry. We have the potential to know so much more about individuals and their interests or abilities and to respond much more acutely. Yet we continue to ask the wrong questions, aggregate the answers, and McDonaldize our deliverables.

Some of the most important skills a trainer can have today are the ability to transcend yourself and appreciate and respond to the contexts and concerns of others; the ability to rapidly unlearn or discard that with which you are comfortable; and the ability to learn or adopt or invent new things: concepts, attitudes, processes, methodologies, paradigms, cultures, contexts. Vital also are the judgment to know the difference between a fad of no real value and important new thinking, and the ability to appreciate that the fad often has a longer half-life than the significant evolution.

1 comment:

cash at home said...

Hi, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
I have a cheap mlm lead site. It pretty much covers cheap mlm lead related stuff. Check it out if you get time :-)