Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sources, sharpeners and sidekicks

Chaired the Moving Learning conference last week which took a long hard look at informal learning. I liked Alison Rossett's on performance support (planners and sidekicks). This is my own spin on her ideas. As learning become more fluid so must the tools. Courses are, in most cases, too crude. It means using SOURCES, SHARPENERS and SIDEKICKS.

Take the example of going somewhere by car:

SOURCE (Atlas)
Look up a fixed source, work out your route, note down the road numbers and perhaps add up rough estimates of each legs to work out the ditance, then do a little arithemetic to work out how long it wil take you.

SHARPENERS (Route plan website)
Look up a route planner website, type in start point and destination, out pops your personal list of directions with details of every leg and a total calculated time. Print it out and have it alongside you in your car.

SIDEKICKS (Satellite navigation)
Satellite navigation gives you realtime feedback and directions (turn right/left) and helps you get back on track when you’re lost. They also give you relevant GPS information on petrol stations, restaurants and hotels.

This is how learning can be delivered, not to simply mimic courses, but playing to the strengths of online technology:

Knowledge bases, repositories of learning content.

Personalised learning environments, email, reminders, feeds, wikis, blogs.

Performance support software and mobile learning.

Interestingly, to get to Microsoft, in Reading, I would, in ancient times, have a source such as a rail timetable or gone to a source station to plan my rail route and times. Now I have my sharpener website where can get my personalised rail times, including details of changes. I sharpened up even more , as I looked to the Microsoft site and found out that there's a free bus straight to their door every ten minutes. When I got to Reading I used my mobile to tell the conference organiser that I was running late - she gave me the exact building to go to to save time when I arrived - my mobile sidekick.

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