Sunday, July 17, 2011

Learning Technologies & LWF (2+2=5)

Graham Brown-Martin & Donald Taylor

I’ve wished for a long time that some of the smaller bodies representing ‘technology in learning’ would get together and, through critical mass, have some political and intellectual clout. So I was delighted to see Donald Taylor and Graham Brown-Martin become part of the same stable. I know both well and the good news is that they are very different people. That, by the way is a compliment, as they’re wholly complementary.

Graham’s game is disruption, debate and discussion. As someone with business background and music industry experience, he brings lots of buzz to events. He’s had the likes of Malcolm Maclaren and Jimmy Wales as speakers, and held juiced up debates with the awful Toby Young and Katherine Birlsbalsing. You get an iPAD (yes an iPAD)included in the conference fee, and he scrapped all that crap, black, canvas bag nonsense.

Donald’s game is calmer and more reflective. He’s more of a charming, James Bond character and a dab hand at getting things done and moving things on, smoothly and without fuss. Learning technologies has managed to outclass WOLCE to become the corporate e-learning conference of the year with quality speakers like Roger Schank. His Learning technologies online community is well respected and supported.

Two plus two equals five

As both are pretty wonderful people, this is definitely a case of two plus two equals five. LWF is an educational entity and Handheld Learning largely attended by educators. Learning Technologies is a corporate learning event attended by Learning & Development professionals. There are a few crossover people, like Stephen Wheeler, but mostly the two sides are like oil and water, despite the fact that the two sides have a lot to learn from each other.

The educators could do with a dose of realism and stop wallowing in the warm sea of useless research grants, European or otherwise. They could also do with getting rid of their petty, anti-corporate prejudices and stop pretending that most innovation in technology and learning comes from education itself – it doesn’t.

The L&D people could do with a dose of educational values, in terms of not seeing vendor-driven models as the only way forward and looking at a wider set of solutions beyond the delivery of ‘courses’. They could also learn a lot from educators about seeing themselves as a profession with status and values beyond employee compliance.

All, in a sense, are trapped in their own particular boxes, classrooms for teachers, lecture theatres for lecturers and training rooms for trainers. All have some really awful theory and practice at heart of their professions. All have an interest in strong, scalable solutions for learning. All have an interest in looking at the spectacular gifts that technology has to offer. I hope, therefore, that this will result in a reboot and uplift of technology in learning conferences.


Lars Hyland said...

Agree wholeheartedly, Donald. Great to see two so well respected events coming together which I hope will encourage some two-way flow of ideas, discussion and challenging debate between the normally isolated education and corporate training camps. There are at last some signs of fundamental change ahead and I hope we can begin to participate and share best practice in a fresh, pragmatic and dare I say exciting manner. Looking forward to seeing what Graham, Donald, Ian and Mark come up with.

Lesley said...

Absolutely agree.....really good news! Having been on both sides of the fence, although there are differences, there is actually quite a lot of commonality. As long as education in the more traditional sense and corporate learning were separate it was all too easy to say 'that does not apply to me'. Hopefully this will be the opportunity to focus on what they have in common really take things up a gear rather than concentrate on the differences. I hope it will also help education understand the skills that are required as our young people move into the corporate world and better prepare them, whilst at the same time the corporate world will be able to understand what young people expect and are used to so that when that transition takes place the corporates will be ready for Gen Y. Has the potential to be a real win win situation!!