50 years ago, had we told people that citizens of the future would carry a supercomputer in their pocket, we might have imagined a race of ‘ubermensch’ – enlightened beings, polyglots, erudite and versed in everything from differential calculus to economic theory.

That this is not the case - that the vast majority of use to which our devices are put can be summed up as ‘3G’ (Gawking, Girls, Games) will not come as news to you. The proportion of time we spend engaged in self-directed learning is vanishingly small.

Again, this should not come as a surprise – whilst I am not a fan of conventional learning theory I do agree with the Piagetian notion of ‘equilibrium’: in essence that we learn the minimum needed to adapt to our environment.

This is a short video series, each around 5 mins long, looking at disruptions in L&D. Firstly, some basic concepts. Secondly, some examples of 'what good looks like'. Finally, an explanation of learning and a new approach to learning design.

“The term ‘concern’ has, in the first instance, its colloquial signification and can mean to carry out something, to get it done, to ‘straighten it out’… We use the expression with still another characteristic turn of phrase when we say “I am concerned for the success of the undertaking”. Here ‘concern’ means something like apprehensiveness.

From a practical post to a mystical one.

Existence could be described as the descent of the Real into reality. Heidegger calls this awareness of the Real 'Es gibt' ('It gives') which we experience as destiny. 

If you watch the Wire (which Zizek persuaded me to do) you eventually get the sense that behind all the shootings, drug deals, arrests and subterfuge ('the game') there is a deeper, tragic narrative. What you see is reality, what you feel is the Real.

A very practical post this time.

Two bits of confusing terminology that have come up in conversation recently: '70/20/10' and 'Online learning vs E-learning'.

I often encounter confusion regarding where our online work sits (it belongs in the 70), and I am sure some of our suppliers are baffled when I politely explain that we do online learning so we don't have any involvement with E-learning.

“If you want to get to there, I wouldn’t start from here"

There are, I suppose, two perspectives on AI: an attempt to coax technology into working like people, or a way of doing things that people do.

As AI progresses we find that we can do more of the second thing whilst getting further from the first. That is: with more processing power we can get technology to do things like play chess or drive cars - but how they do it resembles less and less how people do it.

As a child I took bad photos. I still take bad photos, but as a child they were bad in a specific way.

I was maybe early teens - I had a Russian camera which I loaded with black and white film (because processing black and white film was cheaper) and I would snap away, then wait days for processing. They would come back with stickers on, telling me that they were various kinds of poor.

I was interviewed recently about the work we've been doing at BP and at the end the researcher asked what question I'd like to ask of other organizations. I said 'what mistakes have you made?'. It occurred to me that I should probably share a few of mine:

1) Building a course when I should have built a resource: around 20 years ago I was working for a global telecoms company who sell the kinds of phones that you have on your desk, if you still have one (either a desk or a desk phone).

The learning industry suffers from the chronic disorder that things that are supposed to work, don't. Lectures, e-learning modules, learning styles, blending and MOOCs to name a few.

Of course there are some things that work pretty well - performance consulting for example - but until we have a working theory of learning it's going to stay pretty hit and miss overall.

Years ago our HR Director challenged us all to consider the question ‘what does the organisation really hire you to do?’

The answer – delivering learning – never seemed very satisfactory to me. The business is really interested in outcomes. They have never been entirely convinced that learning delivers them, and we have never been very convincing.

But now I think it is clear: either you are delivering engagement, or you are improving performance. There is no ‘learning’ role.