the november the big question is an interesting and potentially volatile one. are isd / addie/ hpt relevant in a world of rapid elearning, faster time-to-performance, and informal learning? i think the answer is rather obvious, sure they are. at least to some extent.
but i think the bigger issue is what about them will remain relevant and what needs to change. also what must be kept in order to preserve our professionalism and content developers, designers and deliverers. will those particular sets of letters be what we are being certified in the use of 25 years from now? it all depends on if they can adapt.
the future holds a number of pressures that will put our current models to the test. they include:
greater amounts of and more sophisticated technologies
what does this mean - businesses will have more capability to conduct and measure their products and processes. everything will become more transparent.
what does this mean for learning - we will have to know when and how to implement tools for which we understand their specific impact in any given situation. there will be no more hiding behind the black box of roi calculations or the "fact" that there are too many variables to really understand the specific impact of learning.
more learner independence and responsibility for their own learning
what does this mean - performance management, organization design and learning will be integrated to provide every employee with a clear understanding if what is required for them to be prepared for the future and the options available in their particular situation.
what does this mean for learning - we will need to have a deep understanding of where the business is heading and what the workforce needs in order to meet those needs. the requisite learning situations will need to be in place prior to employees coming to the point at which they will need the information, skills, or abilities.
greater need to guide and shape the direction of informal learning
what does this mean - true competitive advantage will be gained by companies who can develop knowledgeable, skillful, and empassioned workforces. the drive to excel will be fueled by open, collaboarative environments where each employee has the resources they need or knows how to find or create them.
what does this mean for learning - a constant and pervasive learning environment is vital to such an environment. we will be required to maintain standards of excellence, focus on drivers of intrinsic motivation. we will need to know our businesses and the employees who constitute them as intimately as possible.
the need for our models to incorporate aspects of the business models of our companies
what does this mean - systems across the enterprise are being merged and unified to create more efficient and effective workflows.
what does this mean for learning - it will not be sufficient for our processes and technologies to integrate with the HRMS or ERP systems. we will need to understand the various systems and technologies used throughout the enterprise to the level that we can identify opportunities for learning and have the ability to create the mechanisms to seamlessly deliver that learning.
the speed of business is accelerating
what does this mean - the time from identification of a need or opportunity to the moment that that need must be fulfilled or else failure occurs or the window of opportunity closes is getting shorter and shorter to new global competitors who can out flank us and processes which are being refined to their bare minimal states.
what does this mean for learning - demand for the creation of learning programs in shorter and shorter periods of time with greater expectations regarding quality and execution seem headed for an critical point of impossibility. what will be required is a radical shift to building from what is already in place and, when able, preparing and repairing for known but yet unspecified needs.
learner-generated content and experiences will be more of the mix
what does this mean - managers will be more and more responsible for the development of their employees and will be expected to meet this objective on an ongoing activity - often day to day. In the process they will create materials to augment, replace or create what the learning function provides. In addition, as learning becomes more embedded with the employees work, their work product will become their learning content, their work area will become their learning environment.
what does this mean for learning - we will be expected to understand these intimate workspaces and understand the work product of our learners. This understanding will need to be so deep that we can insert ourselves and our content with little impact on the workflow.
obviously, the impact up on each of us as learning professions will be tremendous. it will mean learning radical new ways of thinking and behaving. many of us will not be able or willing to make such radical changes. but i'll maintain that those of us who are able and willing will be able to draw upon the core characteristics of the current instructional models. The specifics will certainly change, but i don't see the core concepts of needs assessment; utilization of appropriate content, tools and context; and constant and thorough evaluation of both actual change versus desired change and of the effectiveness of learning programs changing.
in the end, i have no doubt that instructional models will exist. The question is, will we?