The open door to the learning ecosystem – online academies

sign post One of the most difficult challenges facing strategists and learning professionals is relevance – what does L&D now stand for, what does it deliver, how does it demonstrate the value of it’s strategy?  Reflecting on the keynote from David Price’s keynote from Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2014, it an open, truly connected world, how relevant or essential is the learning department if we can find, connect and collaborate on any subject at any time?  David’s presentation was certainly thought-provoking and at first glance, the central tenet of his book ‘Open: How we’ll live, work and learn in the future‘ is that as our behaviour is irrevocably changed by a technology enabled world and a result, questions whether we need to provide learning as part of our organisational deliverables in any formal sense at all! However, as fast as content grows, changes and evolves online, one of the realities of life is although we need to adapt faster, no one has invented a way to pause relative time so I can catch up with this new content, sift it, work out if it’s relevant, absorb it and then apply it.  The fear that the internet would essentially do away with all learning institutions has been prevalent for the past decade – it’s the kickstarter to MOOCs after all. Yet I am a strong believer in the evolution rather than extinction of learning professionals – where’s the obvious value you can create?   As the facilitator and enabler of learning.  Finding, creating and curating great content can now come from any source but making sense of it and creating a learning scaffold around which relevant and efficient research and collaboration can occur is a highly prized skill.  The time saved, the relevance to strategy and key business goals, the efficiency of learning  are all there for the taking if you can create the effective blend of formal learning paths and off piste social learning, self directed research, collaboration and dialogue.  Formal does not mean fixed, but it is a foundation to help keep the informal on track to meeting real business need. One of the most effective ways in which this can manifest itself in today’s organisations is through the online academy.  Academies created around key professional areas or skills in your business can become the vibrant hub for learning, when a blend of trusted, validated and proven content creates the sense of quality, progression in my skills and knowledge and a tangible way to demonstrate my growing value.  But part of demonstrating that value is understanding, applying then creating new knowledge based on that formal scaffold, and so the cycle and evolution continues. If you want to find out more about how this is done and see case studies of online academies in action, why not come along to my webinar next week (25th June at 10am UK time)?