OEB preview 2: The future of our role and the part technology plays

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Written by Jo Cook on 1 December 2017

Technology. From the melting acetates we used with overhead projectors to the virtual reality headsets that are wowing our learners, technology has always been part of an L&D professional’s life.

This is more important than ever before and we need to become skilful and comfortable with technology in our organisations for learning and people’s performance. Before I dive into technology though, there is some other thinking around this.

David D’Souza, Head of Engagement and London for CIPD, recently wrote a LinkedIn article highlighting that people often ask him what’s ‘new’ but should be asking “what really works?”

D’Souza points out:

If you took a step back and looked at most business problems (diversity, fairness, better leadership, silo working) and then looked at the raft of things being done to address them then you will often find that

  1. We don't learn from the failure of past initiatives when we plan the next one
  2. We don't often stop to think deeply enough about why the current situation exists
  3. We like stuff in nice wrappers

This reflection and contextual thinking is what is needed regardless of the problem, solution or technology. Looking through the lens of technology it can be easy to go and look for the new system, platform, process or app without understanding the fundamentals of what needs to happen in the organisation.

I talked about the importance of the business focus in the first of this series of blogs around the Online Educa Berlin conference.

In his TJ article 'The changing L&D skillset' from September 2009 and part of the L&D 2020 research project mentioned in my previous blog, Paul Fairhurst carried out some in-depth interviews and concluded: “The major difference...between ‘new’ and ‘old’ L&D professionals is the focus on the business outcome rather than the L&D process.”

Indeed the Kaplan Leadership & Professional Development UK Survey of 280 UK-based HR and L&D professionals found that the number one criteria for choosing an L&D provider was “knowledge of your business”.

Once the business focus, consultancy role and learning from the past are entrenched, the technology is only a part of what comes next.

Whether it’s for communication, planning, research or learning intervention delivery, we need to become technically adroit. We need to be confident about which new developments are likely to support learners and workers and the achievement of business objectives, without, as D’Souza points out, always falling for the new thing. There’s no harm in not being the early adopter.

Technology in learning is about being digitally savvy ourselves as professionals. Many of us aren’t comfortable with our skill level, some even delight in it, either genuinely or as a defence mechanism. As good as you might be in a classroom, if you aren’t looking at the broader context of technology and communication, you are going to be losing out, and so are the organisations you work for.



About the author

Jo Cook is the deputy editor of Training Journal. Contact her on Twitter @LightbulbJo or email jo.cook@trainingjournal.com

Read more about the session TJ will be delivering at the OEB conference here


Listen to the OEB podcasts https://soundcloud.com/trainingjournal/sets/oeb-2017-previews


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