In the continuing series we this week catch up with Mark Aberdour.
In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?
The biggest anxieties are two-fold I think. First, budget: the challenge to do more with less continues, it has been a theme for many years now and appears to remain a very challenging situation for many workplace L&D teams. Secondly, technology: the learning technologies market is more fragmented and confusing than ever, I sympathise with anyone looking to select new learning technologies as it’s a pretty daunting task right now!
Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?
Primarily my twitter network as I am very careful about who I follow. This is mainly L&D people and technology practitioners, I filter out most vendors and competitors so that I see the genuinely useful stuff that arises from what people are doing on the ground, not vendor buzz and hype. I do follow the market analysts too but I aim to look for themes across them rather than reading too much into the what individual analysts are saying, as the relationship between analysts and vendors can sometimes seem uncomfortably close. But they are good for identifying trends across the market. And also my LinkedIn network but it is getting increasingly hard to see through the noise on there (an awful lot of job vacancies, marketing posts and motivational crap these days!)
What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?
I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that Artificial intelligence promises some great innovations in the L&D space. But it’s really early days and comes with a huge challenge to implement in a way that is truly beneficial to people, without riding roughshod over areas like privacy and bias. There seem to be maverick ‘Silicon Valley’ vendors entering the AI/learning/education market with all-guns-blazing who risk doing more damage than good. The relationship between AI and data is interesting, as good quality data is needed to train AI, hence many AI products seem to be riddled with all sorts of bias from inputting poor quality data. L&D needs to learn from these mistakes in the wider industry and tread very carefully.
What “game changers” would you like to see and why?
There seems to be collective obsession with horizon scanning and predicting the future market, constantly looking for the next big thing. I’d like to see that collective brain power and research time used to help people and organisations solve the real-world problems they are having today instead of obsessing over new technology or gushing on about ‘revolutionising learning’ or some such bullshit. It might seem odd coming from a Chief Technology Officer, but I don’t think new technology will solve the world’s problems alone, or even just the problems in the learning and development world. It’s part of the mix for sure, but it ain’t everything!
What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2030?
Sorry, that’s a mug’s game.
What advice would you give your 21 year old self?
Trust your instinct. Question everything. Don’t ever stop learning.
Learning technologist and software engineer with 20+ years experience in the learning technologies sector with leading vendors. Successfully established high growth learning platforms businesses and led large scale platform implementations at global enterprises and government clients. Conference speaker, author, blogger, tweeter. Chief Technology Officer at Brightwave Group.
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