It was originally my hope to come back from SkillSoft’s Perspectives 2012 event in Orlando with a grand, overarching theme about which I could write and sum up my experience. It hasn’t quite worked out that way. Instead, I came away with several smaller, intriguing ideas that I thought would be interesting to explore. This is the result of attending sessions such as General Stan McChrystal’s talk on Plywood Leadership to an audience of more than 1,100, having one-on-one meetings with learning leaders, and joining the conversation with the multitude of learning professionals in attendance.
I quickly abandoned my goal of capturing the one story of the event and began furiously jotting down every interesting thought/concept/phrase I heard. I plan on researching them individually in more detail in the future, but for now here are some quick snapshots I’d like to share.
It seems as though I heard the word “unified” as much as I might have heard the word “integrated” at conferences a year ago. SkillSoft is touting a more unified offering with its forthcoming SkillPort 8, and other vendors are beginning to use the word unified in their marketing materials.
Why has unification become the new buzzword in learning? Companies are interested in delivering learning content from any source through one interface, and that is a feature of unification. A recent rash of mergers and acquisitions has by definition unified some technology solutions. Other companies desire to move to a system that requires just a single log in for multiple processes. The answer: unification.
The idea of curation is near to my heart. The concept of curation has interested me since I began researching the shift to a Web 2.0 world (remember that?). As we moved from a one-to-many model to a many-to-many model in knowledge dissemination, it became clear that the amount of information available to us at any given time is overwhelming.
The same is true in learning. We spent years encouraging learner-generated content, but now we are faced with an information tsunami. Think of YouTube for a minute. OK, in that minute, one hour of video was uploaded. How do you know which “cat playing with iPad” video is the best? Curation: a process by which some authority culls through what’s available and finds the best information on a particular subject. The curator can be an actual expert, group of experts, or it can simply be the wisdom of the crowd through rating and bookmarking.
One question I heard many times when speakers discussed their LMS was about whether learners had access only to the learning that was relevant to them. As the learning space discusses customization and personalization these questions make sense. However, the answers seemed surprising. Every speaker I heard answer the question said that, no, in fact learners had access to all of the learning content, regardless of their role. Their profile did push the most relevant and (of course) mandatory content to them, but learners were also allowed to access any other content that was available.
Maybe I was the only one surprised by this educational freedom. There has been so much emphasis on delivery of the right content to the right people that many companies have been showing learners only the content relevant to them. This makes sense in theory, but I think the more forward-looking organizations are giving their employees access to the tools and materials that can help them self-develop and explore new areas.
I look forward to exploring the ideas of unification, curation, and open content in depth in future blogs and papers.
If you attended the SkillSoft Perspectives 2012 event, what were your take aways? I look forward to hearing what other attendees had to say as well as seeing the continued changes in the learning, talent, and technology space.