Thursday, February 16, 2006

More on Learning2.0

Learning2.0 is starting to get a bad wrap (here and here)…ALREADY! It seems like just last month we declared it a good thing. It looks like there is much concern about the term Learning2.0 being laughable because it implies that how we learn has been upgraded. “Learning hasn’t changed…the brain still functions, and learns, the way it always has”. Its interesting to me that I never heard a similar argument when E-Learning was coined. It was supposed to be electronic learning, right. Nobody ever questioned the practitioners of eLearning as wanting to plug electrodes into the brain and adding a harddrive to make learning “electronic”. No…everyone accepted the coneptual nature of eLearning as using technology to enhance the learning process, and deliver content differently, and more efficiently via the new technologies.

I believe Learning2.0 to be the perfect tag for the coming generation of Learners, and Learning professionals. There is a fundamental shift occuring in the world around us and it has more to do with Learners/users of the new technologies. We, the learners, are participating in the process of content creation at amazing rates. Check out stats, interviews at (A great little vlog aggregator BTW) In essence web2.0 has become one giant PBS that everyone can participate in. You can write (blog), podcast(audio broadcast), vcast/vlog(video broadcast) to the world with simple tools, and a built in delivery channel. This alone changes the game, but there’s more. Learners are finding and connecting with others via web2.0 tools, sharing common discussions via tags, and learning about whatever they can imagine by Googling. Sure our brain still functions and learns the way it always has, only now the tools support the area that has the greatest impact on our learning which is meaning, context, and human interaction. Basically in my experience that’s all of the things that happen AFTER the formal “learning” event has happened: After class learning.

So Learning1.0 activities will still exist (classrooms, click2death CBT, etc.) because they do serve a purpose. It saves tons of money for big companies when regulations or certification requirements demand that employees are “trained” in a certain area. $10,000 bucks gets you a 1 hour click-next web course with a nice, neat multiple choice test connected to the LMS that spits out a report to “prove” that your employees have been “trained”. How beautiful is that. The CEO and share holders love it…it’s CHEAP, workers spend less time away from their job, and a big red checkmark on the Sr. Manager’s todo list. eLearning, or Learning1.0, is a no-brainer especially when the people writing the check don’t actually care that anyone REALLY learned…but gosh darn they sure were trained well.

True learning is messy, complicated, frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive. But that’s not what this post is about. Because Learning1.0 still exists (the above example is only one reason why) Learning2.0 simply supports what happens “after class”: How the learner actually participates in the learning process creating meaning. Learning2.0 finally addresses the messiness, and chaos, of informal collaborative learning. In my opinion Learning2.0 is more like a combination of informal learning concepts and web2.0 tools…this includes online gaming, and delivery via mobile devices.

ISDers and Learning pros don’t like the new technologies because they are un-managable by a central system and its difficult to build a nice neat little process by which we create the course/learning. And that’s the point…we no longer hold the golden keys. Our new job is to create the flexible learning environments that support the learners participation in the process. Web2.0 supplies the technologies and tools, and supports the new learning culture that is forming on its own. Its important to realize that this is major shift. Evolving existing eLearning courses into reusable learning objects is not that Revolution that is required for the learning community to keep up with the rapid technology and cultural changes. Reusable learning objects are still considered viable by the community because you can still wrap them up into little packages, track, and manage all of the processes around them. This is NOT leanring2.0. Learning2.0 adresses the messy realities of learning and is really just our way of staying relevant as the culture and technologies move forward.

I remember my mom wishing she could “go back to school”. She always talked of how much she loved school and loved to learn. Well…who really needs to physically “go back to school” any more. There is more amazing stuff online than ever before. Better than that you have a pretty darn good chance of actually being able to exchange emails with the fascinating people of our time. Sure Bill Clinton may not return your email. But I know many authors and CEOs who have taken the time to return my emails over the years. And don’t forget the blogs of the gurus and experts. Want to know what Tom Peters is thinking…right now…check his blog and say hi while you’re there. In my mom’s day you absolutely MUST have attended the “right” school to gain access to the gurus.

These are amazing times with amazing new technologies. Sure the brain works the same. Bad training will still exist, just as bad teachers still exist. But Learning2.0 is more about putting the learner in control. And in corporations its about giving them access within the corporate walls to the tools they already know and use. Learners must choose to participate and LEARN, or they can choose to simply listen (click next) and be trained.

Learning2.0 is the stake in the ground that says we understand that “click next” learning is necessary, but doesn’t complete the entire learning picture. We understand that you (the learner) don’t really gain much until “after class” when you can creating meaning for yourself through your work and connections with others. We understand that some of the greatest ah-ha moments can NOT be captured in an LMS, but those are the MOST important moments that move you forward.

Learning2.0, for better or worse, is good for marketing what the learning community has to offer. Ask Doug Hall at the EurikaRanch about giving your mission, product, service, or passion a name. It gives potential customers something to hold onto…but beware it also gives the naysayers something to throw stones at.

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