Mobile Learning; Some thoughts and conversation

I seem to be having a lot of conversations with people about mobile learning recently. 

Everyone seems to be saying it is the next big thing, it will change the way in which we learn and organisations need to embrace it.  Seems a lot like the same language people are using about MOOC’s and that e-learning evangelists have been banging on with for what seems for ever now.  Sorry but I do get a little bit tired of people banging on endlessly about how this new great thing is going to change the way in which we train people, that traditional face to face learning is dead and we need to embrace whatever this new thing is.

Now don’t get me wrong I love technology, probably more than I should, I have a house full of apple, android and windows devices, desktops, laptops, tablets and phones all of which I use continually for various purposes, including online and mobile learning, both synchronous and asynchronous.   I love the idea of I-tunes U and the like which gives me the ability to download and listen or watch a course or lecture when I want.  But, that is my personal learning and I going to sit on the train or the bus into work and watch some organisational training on my iPad or my android phone, ummmmm probably not, because I would rather sit at my desk with my headphone and substantially larger than 10 inch monitor and comfortable chair.  Am I going to access it at home, again probably not, for the same reasons and more, namely I am at home with my family and relaxing.  If I didn’t have a desktop or laptop would that change things, to some extent, but I would still primarily only access the training at work.

Another issue raised time and time again in organisations (non-technology based ones at least) is that of why should I use my data to access organisational training.  Now if we were somewhere where there was less limited/costly mobile data or more widespread easily accessible and free wifi, this may not be the case, but we aren’t.  Even if we were however the questions still to me has some validity, why should I utilise a data connection that I pay for to access training provided by the organisation I work for.  Should it not be the case that the organisation has a responsibility to provide me with the tools necessary to access the training within work time from work equipment.

And finally, despite what the evangelists will try and tell us, there are some things you simply can’t deliver in an online environment.  It just doesn’t work for everything and further does watching a quick simulation of how to do a task on my smartphone, just before I actually have to undertake the task actually teach me anything, or am I just going to have to watch it again the next time I want to do the same task.

Anyway Just some thoughts.

The Greens, TAFE and the future of the Public VET system

Before I even start talking about this, please note this is not a political discussion, it is a discussion about the Public VET system and the Greens position on it.

So as some of you are aware the Greens have released a position paper on TAFE and the public VET system 

Essentially it seems to be their position that the competitive VET market place has ruined TAFE, failed miserably and not met the needs of the country, so in order to rectify this they needs to give TAFE $1.2 Billion.

First off (and for any of you who read this regularly yes I am on my soap box again)  as with so many discussions of the VET system in this country the people who have written this paper show an utter lack of understanding of the landscape, by simply focusing on the TAFE vs Private provider.  Yet again the Enterprise RTO segment of the market is not even considered, mentioned or acknowledged.  The ERTO space is not about making a profit through the provision of training, it is about providing the best possible training to its staff, and, and I have said this many times before, if the public VET system worked and provided industry and organisations with the level of training and quality that they required then there would be no reason for enterprises to go through the costly exercise of becoming and maintaining their own RTO status.  They also as I have discussed elsewhere lumped all of the so called ‘private’ providers into one bag, which again simply shows their lack of understanding of the system and the players who make it up.  However  as I have said before time and time again, at least in my experience TAFE has failed to provide the level of service and outcomes that organisations need and this failure has little to do with funding levels or having to compete and far more to do with inflexible systems, generic programs and overly convoluted management practices.  So if you are going to have a discussion about VET and if you are going to have a position on it, please at least be aware of all the players and stakeholders.  (Ok I am off my soap box now)

So what about the position paper; firstly let me be clear about this, I support public education, to my mind education should be free that has always been my position, whether that is primary, tertiary or vocational, people’s social and economic status should not prohibit their ability to get a quality education.  I also support the TAFE system, in principle; we need to have a public provider of quality education, we need it for a range of reasons, but and here is the but, it has to deliver the outcomes that industry needs and it is not doing that and I fail to see how throwing more than a billion dollars at a broken system is going to change that.

Rather than just throwing money at TAFE, fix what is wrong, make them more competitive, responsive, innovative, less bureaucratic and top-heavy, more about the outcomes that industry, individuals and the country needs.  If the VET system is failing it is not failing simply because they don’t have enough money, it is failing because there are systematic flaws in the bureaucracy that surrounds the entire area, which makes it much less agile and responsive to need than it should be.

If a non-TAFE provider can deliver a program, which gets better outcomes and suits the needs of business and individuals better than the one delivered by TAFE, why should people to forced to undertake the TAFE program and get a lesser outcome.

My question is why shouldn’t TAFE compete with everyone else who provides training, those TAFE’s which have embraced this competitive funding model, and who are responsive and innovative and who provide industry with the outcomes that they need are successful, it is ones who not willing to do this, who are stuck in their old models who are failing.

TAFE needs to be supported, but it needs to be supported in a way that makes sense, that provides for the future industry needs of the country.  Just locking away funding and throwing it a TAFE is not sensible way forward.

The future of L&D

Once again a fantastic little post from Sukh. I think that he and the report he quotes are definitely right. One of the big issues I see on a daily basis in L&D is a lack of skills and knowledge around the financial and business acumen piece and it is letting us down. As I have said in previous places if we are going to talk about ROI and the financial costs and benefits of learning initiatives we had better know what we are talking about because trust me the guy from finance sitting across the table from us does. It reminds me of one of the best book I ever read on the Learning Function “The Business of Learning” by David Vance.
The need for good data stems from this necessity to be able to justify the need for and even in some instances the existence of programs. If we can’t show that there was a better customer experience because we sent our staff on a course then why are we sending them on the course. It is also not good enough anymore to have the soft numbers either; the doing this course will make staff more productive which will give them an extra hour a day to do the things they need to do which will equate to a $300,000 saving in first 3 months rubbish. Its rubbish and everyone knows it is rubbish, yet I still see they claims being made on almost a daily basis. However if we can show that an increase in customer satisfaction is due to the program of learning, then, then we are onto something.
A lot of people in L&D need to realise that it is a business, just like every other part of the business and start to act like it.

Thinking About Learning

Have you had a chance to look at the latest report from the Learning and Performance Institute about the Capability Map of L&D professionals? It makes for interesting reading. You can download a free copy of the summary report here, and if you’re a paying member you can download the full report here.

Here’s what I’ve taken away from the report. L&D will become a dead profession in the next five years unless we undergo radical change. Or thought about another way, L&D has the prime opportunity to position itself as a value adding service to the business.

Either way the future for the profession is highly volatile. I’m not even being sensational about this.

What are L&D professionals good at?
– Managing the learning function – hurrah!
– Live delivery – phew.
– Learning resources – yay!
– Performance improvement – come on!

What are we poor…

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