The three I’ve picked for February’s ‘What I Learned’ video:

  1. Artificial Intelligence and the future of the learning profession
  2. Skill gap across the learning profession
  3. Workshops – less is better

Watch the video to hear what I learned and/or read the summary below.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Future of the Learning Profession

I attended the Learning Technologies Conference UK.   Daniel Susskind, co-author of a book called The Future of The Professions, keynoted about the future of work and AI. His keynote made me curious about the implications for the learning profession.

Susskind discussed the first wave mindset of AI from the 1970s and the second wave mindset which now exists. During the first wave, the thinking was based on the difficulty people have explaining how they perform a task due to embedded expertise.  If people couldn’t explain how they did something, then how on earth could instructions be written for a machine to do such tasks?  This thinking led to the AI fallacy – the mistaken assumption that the only way to develop systems that perform tasks at the level of experts or higher, is to replicate the thinking process of the human specialist.

In the second wave we no longer expect AI to be smart in the same ways as people.  We no longer expect machines to think in the same way as people.  This means that machines can do non-routine routine tasks.  Machines may well be able to perform tasks that require creativity and empathy, just in different ways to which humans would perform such tasks.

As learning professionals we should challenge our assumptions as our expertise may be creating blindspots.  The future of learning could look very different to the way it does now, based in part on the application of AI. This ties in with an article I read by Josh Bersin about learning technology developments. He predicts that while Learning Management Systems may not go away, they will be integrated with platforms already used to do work.  This will provide access to real-time content as we needed within relevant work platforms such as Salesforce or Microsoft Teams.

I’m now curious to challenge the assumptions and mental models that I have about what learning will look like in the future.

2. Skills Gap Across the Learning Profession

Here’s something that gave me a jolt when it was discussed at Learning Technologies. The learning profession is falling behind in skills relative to where it needs to be. Towards Maturity’s 2019 research report, The Transformation Journey, shows that readiness of profession is a major barrier to getting the results they aspire to. Over 700 learning professionals are represented in this data.  The readiness graph below shows is that skill levels are less than required across every single competency.  In fact, relative to what is needed, skill levels have actually contracted since 2016.  What a wake-up call!  Now I’m questioning whether / how the learning profession can keep up with change.

2 TM Skills Graph

Source: Towards Maturity, The Transformation Journey – 2019 Annual Research Report

3. Workshop Agendas – Less is Better

I recently ran a full day workshop to develop capability plans for a learning team. I had planned an agenda focussed on team development when the client asked me to include an activity to develop individual plans. In retrospect, I should have resisted this request. I added it into the agenda but as it turned out on the day, I had to revert back to much of my original agenda as we really did need the time for the team capability development planning.  The lesson? When it comes to workshops, less is more!  (As an aside, I find this true of so much in life.)


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