Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Learning with technology

The current issue of Managment Today questions the role of HR, and concludes, among other things, “Here’s one way the human resources profession can shatter some of the tired old stereotypes that cling to it: get online”. The article goes on to argue that this is already starting to happen.

By coincidence, the current issue of People Management carries a similar message. Reporting on HRD Week, held in London from 21 to 23 April, its headline says “Embrace online learning, HR urged”.

The message is so consistent, the argument seems rather one-sided.

And yet, we also know there is huge resistance to e-learning. Every year the CIPD annual survey tries to put a positive gloss on what its members report, and yet the survey returns show unmistakeable hostility to e-learning. Hardly any HR professionals rate it as one of the top three most effective techniques for learning, and around half don’t use it at all.

Are HR professionals all schizophrenic, or is there a rational explanation for this apparent contradiction?

I’m increasingly seeing this as an argument over semantics. In my new book, I show that digital technology is an essential part of everyday life, including working life, and naturally that extends to learning. Most people will accept this, but they don’t recognise many technology applications they use as being “e-learning”, which they view as a narrow kind of learning, not often very useful. Trying to persuade them otherwise seems increasingly futile, and a diversion from the main task of getting them to engage with technology for learning.

OK then. Maybe it’s time for us to stop talking so much about e-learning, and focus instead on the broader arena of learning with technology.

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