We continue the LPI Member spotlight – this week we hear from Judy Bloxham:

What does the changing nature of Learning & Development mean for L&D professionals?

“In business, the competition will bite you if you keep running, if you stand still, they will swallow you.” Victor Kiam, former CEO Remington

In 2000 I can remember teaching a HND unit ‘Computer Aided Learning’, the learning output was burnt to CD. Two years later and that output was now part of an LMS. And then I start to lose track of all the technologies I’ve learnt and unlearnt.

We have glimpses of the technologies that are just around the corner – greater systems integration and tracking, xAPI, seamless integration between devices, IoT, Wearable Technology, Virtual and Augmented Reality headsets…. What we don’t know is which will thrive and which will wither. In 2007-8 the Sony DS came on the market as a handheld, it was heralded as a potential personal learning device, but where are they now?

Someone who is in the L&D world has to embrace change, and recognise it will happen no matter what. We need to work with the new technologies and the expectations they bring to users. But equally, like with the DS, we need to recognise when that technology has fallen aside and move on. Listen to users they will tell you what is working, they no longer just accept what they are given.

What in your opinion are the most effective ways of encouraging staff to become self-directed learners?

I was involved with a project that was delivering resources to Bricklaying students in a college through Augmented Reality (AR). These were low level learners with little skill in managing their own learning. Through using a delivery platform that engaged them and allowed them to access targeted resources/learning at point of need, this changed. The course tutors noticed that the learners were moving though the learning faster than previous cohorts and also were starting to look ahead in their learning i.e. becoming self-directed.

I think there’s some things we can learn from that. People need to see a purpose to their learning to help them become involved, and it needs to be accessible when and where they want. Alongside this the interface, AR, allowed the learners to get to what they wanted easily and directly. We need to design so that what is there makes it easy to see what is expected and when.

I’m currently doing a MOOC course, I was tempted to join as I knew one of the facilitators on the course and the content looked interesting. One thing I like is its leader board, you get points for completing chunks of study, I’m very competitive so it appeals to me. Little incentives can help get people to engage. I’m very interested in Open Badges as a form of Micro Credentialing and feel that they have a huge part to play in recognising and incentivising that form of learning.

There has been a great deal of publicity and conversation around MOOC’s this past 18 months – what do you think the future look like for MOOC’s?

There are lots of statistics about the poor completion rates on MOOCs, I can understand why. If the content is not clearly structured, or those participating feel like they are not progressing then why continue? There are also those who want to dip in and get just what they want at that point and nothing else. We shouldn’t forget that’s a valid learning experience too.

In terms of MOOCs serving all our learning needs, I don’t think that’s a viable view. They may have been sold as the great learning solution when they first appeared but with a few years’ experience it is showing who will and won’t access them. Lots of research shows that those with degrees or higher levels of education are more likely to undertake a MOOC course, presumably because they have the ability to manage their own learning. This means that a large chunk of the population doesn’t see them as a viable route.

So the future for them…. I think they’re here to stay but may morph in style to make them more accessible to a wider audience. More opportunities to tie them to a form of credentialing via Open Badging, or xAPI feeding into a Learning Record Store (LRS) so the learner has evidence of completion.

Is Learning and Development going through an evolution or a revolution?

Evolution = the gradual development of something
Revolution = a forcible overthrow of a social order, in favour of a new system.

In terms of those involved in the industry I think it’s an evolution. Trying to work with new tools as they appear and work them into current andragogy. That’s probably not the best approach, there are so many instances of people not recognising that new advances in technology require a completely new way of thinking. In the First World War most of the Generals argued that the horse was superior and the tank would never catch on! We need to look at learning in a new light, 70:20:10 does that somewhat. We need to recognise the place for learner as creator too, so many people are now publishing their own things without even thinking about it. How can we incorporate that into workplace learning?

However, in terms of the technology and the learners I think it’s a revolution. Mobile and social learning are overthrowing the order. There are different expectations. If someone looks for something on their LMS and can’t find it chances are they’ll turn to a search engine and probably find something of YouTube. There is a change in attention level, if it’s not there almost instantly then we have a ‘forget it and go elsewhere’ culture.

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

I’m from a more traditional teaching background so the L&D world is a change of direction for me. I found Twitter was the best way to keep informed in my previous role as a Learning Technology Advisor at Jisc (Government funded body to support the use of technology in the FE and Skills sector), so I’m using that again. You do have to watch though, skimming social media can take up so much time. That’s why I like Twitter with its restrictions in the number of characters, it gives a quick clue to how useful something is.

I’m still tweaking my Follows on Twitter, and my boss, Linda Steedman, is great at passing through useful links to follow. Fortunately I’ve always liked to stretch myself and push my learning, so it’s a pleasure.

What advice would you give to someone looking to take up a career in learning?

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy

Be prepared to change, and to change often. Remember to be a learner too and use your experience to help you design better learning for others.

About Judy:

10 years working in the FE sector teaching in IT Department, everything from beginners computing through to industrial courses covering databases for graduate engineers.

5 years working with Jisc – government body set up to advance the use of digital tools in teaching, learning and assessment. Gave an excellent insight into the good the bad and the ugly being used in the education sector. Lots of opportunities to test out digital tools and look at how they could be applied to learning. Research papers published on how Augmented reality could be used as an educational tool.

Currently working at eCom Scotland as a Learning Technology Consultant. My role is to help businesses determine solutions that meet their needs and then work with them to deploy the solutions. I have particular interests in Open Badges and inclusive learning design.

Follow Judy on Twitter @gingerblox