Just for me learning

I took part in a very interesting panel discussion with several other keynote speakers during the Adult Learning Symposium last week, in Singapore.

The theme of the conference was 'Future of Work, Future of Learning', which sent a clear message to delegates that the two are inseparable. One of the questions from our audience, largely made up of learning and development professionals, was about how we could optimise learning in organisations. One of the panellists answered by saying that 'Just in Time' and 'Just Enough' learning should be possible and sustainable for workplace learning in most companies. I completely agreed with him, but added that we could go farther, and that 'Just for Me' learning is now also achievable, through a number of emerging trends in learning and development.

One trend is BYOD - bring your own device, which is happening in workplaces across the globe. Employers support their staff as they bring their personal devices such as smartphones and tablets into the workplace, enabling a technical infrastructure that scales to the screens being used. Clearly there are security and privacy issues to be addressed, but another trend is that learning is now becoming more untethered and we are witnessing a decline in the use of training rooms. Employers are discovering that productivity and effectiveness can be increased if learners stay in their workplace or remain mobile as they learn, rather than requiring them to travel to, and spend time in a 'training place.' Digital delivery of content can personalise learning, enabling learners to work at their own pace, and in a place and at a time that suits them. The final trend is the personal learning environment, which is made up of the learner's own tools and technologies, their personal learning network, and any other content, events and experiences that help them to learn what is needed to be successful in their work.

We have come a long way since the 'Just in Case' curriculum. Now employees can be kept up to date and knowledgeable, and their skills developed personally, through the appropriate application of networked technologies. 'Just for Me' learning will epitomise the next decade of learning and development.

Photo courtesy of the Adult Learning Symposium

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Just for me learning by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


David Hopkins said…
As always Steve, thanks. For the last 2 years I've been heavily involved in the Warwick MOOCs and have been struck, time and time again, on the lack of flexibility on these supposedly flexible course. Yes, anyone can join and learn about computing, cancer, astrophysics, etc. but you are still locked into a start date that may or may not suit your life. Most of the time you don't have the ability to choose when you start these courses (some providers are sensible enough to advertise multiple dates so you can choose whether you start, for example, next week or in ten weeks time) so you either adapt your life around the course, or wait for another time when it might suit you. If we want truly flexible and open opportunities, and the 'just for me' attitude, then the course ought to be more open, more accessible, and more applicable.
Steve Wheeler said…
Good points David. I believe that learning and development in organisations is forging ahead with more flexible and personalised learning agendas, at least in some of the larger corporates. Many universities are lagging behind this trend, and could learn a lot from corporate learning approaches. MOOCS have offered a lot of promise, and in the early days of the cMOOC were incredibly flexible and personalised. But as you point out, there is now a problem - they have now become so organised and structured that there is now little latitude for personalisation.
David Hopkins said…
It's certainly the way I'm leaning these days; the constraints in formal learning do nothing for me or the way I like to learn. I would, however, really like to find informal learning that can give me the same recognition and qualification a formally produced course can - that would fit around work and home responsibilities when and where I can allocate times (which can be different from day to day, week to week).
Steve Turnbull said…
'Just for me' sounds fine in principle - who could argue with flexibility and personalisation? But - David's valid point about organisational constraints aside - doesn't it run the risk of undermining the essentially social nature of learning? Untethered to wander and roam all by yourself? I'm exaggerating of course. But I see this as a very big potential issue. Technology is increasingly giving us what we need, customising our experience, right down to the details. But what we need more than ever surely is to facilitate group interaction, so we can solve common problems collectively? I think there's a necessary tension between personalisation and social learning that educational technology folk would be wise to keep in mind.
Steve Wheeler said…
There's a paradox here Steve. I see no specific constraints for personalised learning, because it is also inherently social. A lot of learning inside the organisation is informal, and this form of learning is mediated almost always through some form of social media. I see the institutional provision of learning content in formal contexts and the informal learning through personal technologies as symbiotic.
Steve Turnbull said…
Symbiotic sounds good :) I was worried about creeping individualism but if learning is an ecosystem I'm all for it!
Karin Brown said…
What I wonder is, if a solution to the challenge of balancing highly structured/group/face to face learning and adaptive/individual/online-ish learning is to offer a range of solutions based on taxonomy levels. This would perhaps enable to people to learn at the lower taxonomy levels online, alone and at a time that suits them, but compliment these offers with more structured options that build on these prior modules. Thus ensuring both that once you do enter the more structure setting you can focus on the interaction, discursive aspects, because you can be sure the prerequisite foundation has been established?

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