Workplace learning in ten years

The LCB Big Question for March is, What will workplace learning look like in 10 years?

I’ll start by going back 10 years to my workplace and see what is different from early 1999:

  • I was still using a paper-based Day Timer, so I can’t quickly see what I was doing at that time. I switched to a Handspring (Palm) in 2001.
  • I had high-speed Internet access at work ( a university) but not at home until 2003.
  • We had digital cameras at work but our camera at home used film.
  • My professional network was the people at work, our clients and partners and a very few people (e.g. Jay Cross) who were blogging and giving me a way to interact with them without having met.
  • To set up a collaborative work space for our clients, Lotus Notes was one of the few options. Most of our clients balked at the idea of online collaborative work and preferred e-mail or the telephone (some things don’t change).
  • We were pushing workplace learning options like EPSS, KM, and CSCW but most of the money was being invested in online courses, LMS, and LCMS.
  • Big conferences, like OnlineLearning, were attracting thousands of attendees.

In the intervening decade I wondered about some of the technological changes. We now have practically unlimited digital storage, increasing bandwidth, almost ubiquitous connectivity, and the ability to digitally capture and share everything we see and hear. I’ve also had the ability to work on my own, from a small town in Atlantic Canada, because of our networked infrastructure. This was not really possible in 1999 but by 2003 it was feasible, though a challenge.

Workplace learning in 2019:

  • Much of the workforce will be distributed in time & space as well as in engagement (part-time, full-time, contract, mix).
  • More learning will be do-it-yourself and gathered from online digital resources available for free and fee. More workers will be used to getting what they need as they change jobs/contracts more frequently but remain connected to their online networks (online/offline won’t matter anymore).
  • Work and learning will continue to blend while stand-up training will be challenged by the ever-present back channel. Successful training programs will involve the learners much more — before, during, and after.
  • Conferences, workshops and on-site training will become more niche and fragmented (smaller,  focused, & connected online) as travel costs increase and workers become more demanding of their time.
  • The notion of PKM will have permeated much of the workplace.
  • These changes will not be evenly distributed.

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