Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Skills for Learning Professionals

This month's Big Question from LCB has received a huge response. I have pasted the question here:

"In a Learning 2.0 world, where learning and performance solutions take on a wider variety of forms and where churn happens at a much more rapid pace, what new skills and knowledge are required for learning professionals?"

This is not a very new question and has been doing its rounds in different forums. My colleague and I had begun a similar discussion on our "explore learning solutions" forum as well. We also have a fair idea why this question is cropping up in various forms...Today, the role of learning professionals have undergone and are undergoing a paradigm shift. The main reason is of course the shifting, evolving technology and a flatter world with organizations spread across the globe.

As I read through the different responses to this month's Big Q, I saw that most of the major points had been covered.

Therefore, instead of trying to make the same point using different words, I thought I would synthesize my learnings from the different posts. I have not yet been able to cover all the posts but from what I have read, I have made the following jottings for myself. As I read the rest, I intend to add to this list.

The interpretations are mine and so is the synthesis I have arrived at. The original writer's intent may have been different.

While the key trends I have spotted so far focus on a learning professional's ability to:

Keep learning: Professionals have to become constant learners to be in tune wth the ever increasing flow of knowledge

Be a knowledge networker: Be a knowledge networker capable of identifying patterns and make connections

Solution provider: Use the best solutions and be able to bind different learning ecologies

Be tech savvy: Be comfortable with technology, especially the tools that can be used to create a "learning ecosystem or end-to-end learning solutions" at organizational levels (talking of organizational training here since that forms a large part of our "business")

Be adaptive: Be adaptive enough to see the link between theories of andragogy to present day technological innovations.

Be a social networker: Be good at networking and connecting with the "right" people because there is no way one can know everything. The only way to keep up with the rapid pace of tech development is to share and participate in online conversations.

Don't think of yourself as an expert: Be aware of the vanishing concept of "expertise". Today, everyone can easily gain expertise with access to information and the tools available to share and disseminate.

Have a sound grasp of theories: Linked to the previous point>> this puts a lot of pressure on learning professionals to constantly "innovate" and be the creator of sound instructional design. Only way we stand out is the design/form/structure/format that we present the learning in. Hence, it becomes even more critical to know the theories of learning in depth and apply these in course designs if we have to still make a case as to why organizations should spend in asking us to create a training program.

Be open to criticism and be courageous: Have the courage to put up one's understanding and perspectives out there for all to read, respond, criticise, disagree with, argue, rip apart...This can preferably be done via blogs which is also a platform that allows one to synthesize and analyze one's thoughts. Without this kind of "putting oneself on the block" attitude, it will not be possible to learn.

Understand business drivers:
Be a consultant and be able to talk to Line-of-Business managers and grasp the true need of the training. This means being able to ask the right questions and not only focus on the "learning" but the end need of the learning. What is the gap that is impacting the bottom line? That is all that matters to an organization.

All of this means that it is well neigh impossible for an individual to develop on one's own. There is a growing and imperative need to collaborate. To understand how collaboration is different from coordination or cooperation, read the post When should we Collaborate? The whole in this case is way greater than the sum of the parts and knowing how to acquire the necessary information is as if not more important than the specific information itself.

The list of posts I have read so far are:

# Mohamed Amine Chatti - New Skills for Learning Professionals
# Harold Jarche - 2008 article on Skills 2.0
# Clive Shepherd
# Jay Cross - Informal Learning blog.
# E-Learning Curve Blog: Learning Professionals’ Skills 2.0
# Natalie - What Should Learning Professionals Know Today?
# Gina - Adventures in Corporate Education
# Jane Bozarth - New Skills for Learning Professionals
# Harold Jarche -Skills for learning professionals
# Clark Quinn: Web 2.0 Learning Skills

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