Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Training Specialist

Saw a post by Matthew Franz - where he tells us - I don't get e-learning 2.0 - and it made me wonder if Franz is a training specialist - who's not looking at more than training as a model for learning. Here's what he said:
I just don't get why folks are trying to lump in wikis, blogs, rss, etc. as "e-learning."

RSS, Blog, Wikis, etc. are fundamental workplace tools in the same way that other tools (office applications, web applications, the Internet etc.) are also tools, but think of the absurdity of making a big deal of Excel as an "e-learning 1.0 tool."

Is it because corporate trainers (I am one now, so I can critique them) are so backward and 2.0-illiterate? Is that why this is a big deal? To me if you make the definition of "e-learning" so expansive (and yes, I realize there is overlap between e-learning and knowledge management but to classify knowledge management activities as learning seem silly) it makes the term almost meaningless. Yes, everything you do should be about learning and creating knowledge, but this is different from Learning with a Big-L and little-l learning. What am I missing here?
I agree with Matthew that there's nothing inherent in these tools that makes them an eLearning tool. You can use them for very practical things all day long that no one would walk by and say - "Hey, that's a learning tool." So, why are they coming up in talks, blog posts, etc. about learning?

When the question is phrased this way, I'd be surprised if Matthew wouldn't be able to talk to these tools in the context of their impact on personal learning and formal learning. When you look at the examples from my blog post that he cites - Examples of eLearning 2.0 - clearly these things are being applied to formal and informal learning opportunities.

I believe what Matthew is questioning (Big-L vs. little l) is whether there is anything that pushes these into the realm where someone who is a learning professional (especially a training specialist) should somehow care more about these tools than anyone else. (Or maybe I'm missing what Matthew is missing.)

My strong belief (see Leading Learning and Developing New Skills) is that learning professionals (even training specialists) actually have an important responsibility here.
  • Learning professionals must be adept in these tools so that we understand how they apply to formal learning settings and in a myriad of personal learning settings.
  • Learning professionals must be actively promoting (through tactical application) their use in our organizations.
And I'm not allow in these views - see Lead the Charge.

Part of what may be at issue here is the continuing question of the Scope of Learning Responsibility where I see Learning (capital L) being responsible for helping knowledge workers be able to do their work (that inherently has learning involved) more effectively, efficiently, accurately, etc. If you look at this from a training specialist standpoint and stop at formal training as your definition of scope, then this stuff is less interesting (but still interesting).

Matthew, like you, I don't see Excel as being all that exciting with it's application to learning. (Side note: If you had said, Google Spreadsheet, then the collaborative and real-time aspects of the application actually have some interesting implications - maybe we would have had a more interesting discussion.) But when you come out and essentially say that there's nothing that interesting about Wikis, Blogs and RSS when it comes to learning or Learning. Well, I'm not sure how that's even a little defensible.

This could be only around definition of the term eLearning - and maybe Matthew defines it as eLearning 1.0 (authored content) - then I guess I would understand why he tells us that he doesn't get eLearning 2.0.

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