Monday, 10 March 2014

Time to remove the stabilisers?

There's no doubt about it, being in the e-learning industry in New Zealand can sometimes be very frustrating.  You frequently can't win falling between those that scoff at the attempt to drag forward those with literally no 'belief' in the learning technology world to those that think you're way behind the curve.  Truth of the matter it can be exhausting caught in middle ground.  Makes me wonder has the time come to take off the stabilisers?

If we were to blaze forward and challenge with truly new ideas and get up to the forefront of learning technologies from here would it be something that would be embraced by those around you or would you find that everyone had stopped pedaling and lay by the roadside? 

The problem that we often seem to face here is that it's an uphill struggle that we metaphorically run in to.  If you're riding a bike then the uphill bits are always the hardest, particularly if balance is an issue 'cos you sure go up hill slower than down.  Budgets here are often unrealistic, particularly from those looking for next generation learning, this in itself causes many issues and frequently we settle for the all too easy option of pretty e-learning that revolves more around clicking next than actually engaging the learner.  The click next button is pretty much the same as clicking on those stabilisers.  Suddenly we're going at a safe pace that our bosses will be happy with, and if it's pretty at the end surely job done?

A lot of our issues are around preconceptions that we've not really challenged.  In NZ the internet was pretty slow, but with fibre and VDSL already piping our information faster than ever before there are new opportunities to really engage.  Security settings and system configurations have always seemed like sacred cows, but if we don't start to challenge some of these then how will we really know?  There are forward thinking organisations that are actually changing the very environment people work in, providing social and social media opportunities... could it work where you are?  Do you have to be limited by what's immediately around you and what's available?  Do you have to be constrained in 'work time' when who knows what work time even is any more?  If I want to go on Facebook at 2pm on a Monday, can I?  No-one complains when I answer my work emails on Sunday, Saturday and every night in between!  So let's challenge some of our traditional ways and look at a more exciting future in learning.

The answer I guess is to keep a focus on where we're going and to stop looking down at the ground.  We want to try and drastically increase the learning in our e-learning by making it more engaging and interactive, that means sometimes trying new things (even sometimes falling off along the way).  We want to make learning a more social thing, even if that means handing over our control and letting others find their own way.  As organisations we should be opening up communication channels and social media, not shutting them down - all we're doing by this at the moment is causing our bikes to go so slow that they'd be dangerous without stabilisers.  If we open up and speed down the hill, we don't need stabilisers, next thing you know we're all grown up and able to fly on our own.

So for now, those stabilisers are coming off and we're going to forge on.  Some may fall, some may not even try but just one or two of us might make it; that might be enough to get a cycle lane put on the super-highway.