I don’t quite know how to express this and so if it comes out wrong and people are inadvertently offended…sorry.
In a nutshell, I’m finding the pundits who call for change and have great ideas about change essentially talking vapourware. In other words, lots of talk no real sustenance there. Now no one is going to readily fess up to being one of these people but people will happily point to someone else to say, ya, I know what you mean. Examples of this abound and the one thats really kicking my ass these days is the focus on mLearning and the ‘revolution’ that awaits. Lots of talk about how this time its different. The revolution will happen since there is no choice. I’m not terribly old by any stretch of the imagination, but I was there when ‘eLearning’ was where ‘mLearning’ is at. Stats about the proliferation of computers in the home. Desktops were taking over and this time, we’re not talking DVD’s. The potential was huge. Our options for delivering ‘learning’ (and if you know anything about me, thats a dumb thing to say) was incredible because of the media options available combined with the proliferation of the technology. Where are we today? What are we saying about eLearning? Here’s an email I received from a participant in one of my recent sessions at DevLearn:
I was stuck by the candor from a lot of the industry guru’s that “learning is broken.”
Here’s a gentleman who isn’t part of our industry attending an industry event about eLearning and hearing everybody talk about how eLearning is broken. So when I hear about the mLearning revolution I freak out and here’s why:
Those who are talking about the revolution have yet to build anything revolutionary (there are exceptions of course). Those who are building revolutionary items are getting drowned out by the talking heads who cry for a revolution but build nothing or borrow the same paradigm for delivering content using new technology. When are we ever going to freakin’ learn that the revolution won’t come from applying new technology to the same models we’ve used. The new technology does open doors. It does present new opportunities. But until the model for delivering educational content changes, we will forever be using new technology to deliver old and broken solutions.
Not everybody is doing the same old, same old. I take great pride in our organization for essentially being a think tank for 10 years. We have no mainstream products, we have never made it big, but we have always played with ideas and built out processes and technology that are totally unique. Would I be happier if some of those things achieved mainstream success? Of course, but I’m happier for having experimented for 10 years than to have simply done what everyone of my competitors did, which is build for mainstream. Have we built a revolution no? But we have operated for 10 years that there are alternative and better models for getting educational content into the hands of people that need it.
I contend that there is no revolution afoot. I see big ideas that will never be implemented and thought leaders who don’t really grasp ground level realities. Before we ever get to a revolution in delivering content, we need our educational institutions and our corporate universities to experiment with a different classroom (in other words, no more walls, electronic walls included). As I said in a previous post, to date we have focused on trying to expand the reach of the teacher (MOOCs are a great example of changing the access paradigm of students, with a goal of increasing the amount of students who access great content) as opposed to supporting models for a single student to access more teachers and a more personalized approach. Yes, these talks are on the fringe, but thats where they remain.
There are without a doubt some interesting developments happening in companies like mine all over the world. They remain on the fringe. If your going to talk revolution with me, show it to me cause I’m not buying what your selling!