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How to Identify the Right Learning Tools for the Social Age


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DateFebruary 05, 2015 Posted by: Nic Laycock   Keywords: Business Strategy, Conference roundup, Events and Networking, eXchange, interviews, Social Learning

Nic Laycock reports what was shared during the roundtable discussion with Julian Stodd at the Learning Technologies eXchange, 2015. 

It was standing room only for the eXchange with Julian Stodd, Founder and Co-Captain of SeaSalt Learning – and what a treat we had! 

Julian began by outlining his view of the changed and evolving learning ecosystem. He mentioned the demise of jobs for life, or even for more than a decade, redundancy, reinvention of the self and new skilling are the new norms. Thus the formality of extended corporate learning pathways and programmes are the stuff of a past era with the emphasis now being on short-term reactive but anticipatory development.

The trends that Julian perceives in learning are rooted in the removal of a separation of learning from work. The dismantling of the “geo” barriers as we are able to access learning 24/7, and the dispersal of knowledge from centralised corporate repositories into multiple portals, platforms and global warehouses is responding to the workplace imperative of seemingly always needing to do things differently tomorrow.

So in Julian’s new paradigm, learning is situated in the workplace, and tribal (tacit?) knowledge is owned by the community. Even in the case of a formal learning programme or a cycle of an online blended approach (such as an on-boarding campaign) evolution occurs through community interaction. That requires a re-balancing of the learning contract on the terms of the learner.

Julian sees learning as part of the force for change. Successful change happens through “sanctioned subversive communities” that opt in to new directions (even propose and shape them) and express support for them. This is about the co-creation of purpose and co-creation of movement in organisational behaviour.

For this to translate into successful learning, Julian suggests there has to be an individual “What’s in it for me?” that aligns with personal views of cost (physical and psychological), integrity, time and life aims.

Julian shared his view that Hierarchy as the driving corporate force is dead even though it is still physically in place in the huge majority of organisations. What now rules is social authority that is both contextual and consensual. This means that infrastructure is being democratised and Julian postulates that this render the LMS to be valueless!

So Julian then led us on to the concept of scaffolded learning – social, co-created, based on core narratives, generating sense-making in communities.
In his own consulting work Julian looks for learning professionals who are instinctive story creators and who can take a role in his model of 6-part design and delivery of learning. “We don’t own the building of learning from end to end, there are different skills to be applied on the way through. We need to move away from the “performance review” mentality into a paradigm of continuous story construction about experience and learning”

Revolutionary? Yes – but for those who listened to and challenged Julian, it was a future world to which we can relate – with some practical concepts outlined to help us get there.

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