Martin Baker is the founder and Chief Executive of the Charity Learning Consortium, the Corporate eLearning Consortium and GivebackUK. He’s recognised as being one of the top ten most influential people working in eLearning in the UK.
In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?
Lack of recognition for the profession. L&D is often not taken seriously and when times are tough, learning budgets always seem the first to be cut. Sadly, the profession itself is partly to blame… we were late coming to the top table to prove our value. Donald Taylor speaks eloquently about remaining relevant as L&D professionals and that is oh so true.
There’s a really interesting revision of terminology within learning which reflects I hope a real game change though. A few years ago the word ‘training’ became taboo. If a group of learning professionals were chatting in a room the word training would be banned (unless they were talking about training a dog). Learning and development was the correct term to use – but outside of L&D the term was, and still is, rarely recognised.
If you go to the business and ask how engaged they are with L&D I expect their first question may be “What is L&D?” When you explain it is learning and development they will probably give an uninterested shrug and say “oh, part of HR.”
Now, more and more I hear L&D professionals talking about performance support, and overall business aims. In order to be taken seriously, it’s essential they think like this. What we do is help individuals become more effective in their jobs, which in turn, collectively makes organisations more effective. It’s as simple as that.
Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?
I’m incredibly lucky in my job that I get to attend some great conferences, often when we’re filming for GivebackUK – a not for profit which I’ve formed to create a free video learning library for charities. We get to film some of the world’s leading thinkers in our space, along with the heads of L&D from some of the country’s largest and most cutting edge organisations.
I had a real ‘lightbulb’ moment when listening to Jeff Turner talk about management at our Charity Learning Conference last year, and the flat structure that works at Facebook. It has changed the way that we work as an organisation.
And I always find Nigel Paine inspiring. He brings so much energy and passion to everything that he does. And his thinking about ideas v innovation has given me great clarity – as Nigel would say: “10,000 ideas don’t necessarily lead to a single innovation.”
On a day to day basis my Twitter addiction keeps me updated, informed and inspired!
What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?
It has to be where the technology is taking us – particularly advances in wearable tech.
One of the functions we’re working on for the new GivebackUK platform is the ability to push inspirational videos to cohort groups, teams, individuals, any place, anytime, anywhere. With the iWatch launch imminent I’m thinking of how easy it would be to watch a four minute video on my wrist on the go!
What “game changers” would you like to see and why?
In the future I think that the increasingly sophisticated use of data will be a complete game changer. Data doesn’t sound that exciting does it! But it’s behind just about everything that we do online.
The Charity Learning Consortium is working with Learning Locker to create a Learning Record Store, which will be able to capture all learning interventions, not just the limited data we’re used to pulling out of an LMS. Start thinking about being able to capture the content from all of those conferences that we attend where we learn so much; those articles we read, those things we do and learn on a day to day basis.
It’s an odd paradox isn’t it that as learning professionals we can easily forget how we learn – which is in very random ways. This will create a place to store anything that has been useful or inspiring that we may want to return to.
What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?
I really hope that L&D will be recognised as the profession it should be. We may be called something completely different, but I’d like to get to the stage that when my Mum asks me what I do she smiles and says ‘Wow’ as opposed to a blank stare!
I hope that all learning will be aligned to helping individuals be more effective – I know I’m banging my drum here, but it’s about performance…
I’m really inspired by the work we are doing with Charles Jennings around 70:20:10 – we have some exciting plans, and it will be fascinating to see how these will have developed in five years time.
What advice would you give your 21 year old self?
I’m a natural born risk taker, I work very intuitively, and I act on ideas, sometimes very quickly – it’s a combination which makes life exciting, but also means that things can and do go wrong. So I would tell myself to remain true to myself, be driven by passion and ambition. To go out and take risks. To not be scared of making a decision, even if that means taking the easy route – those can sometimes be the best decisions.
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