Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reflections on Gerd Leonhard's session (LSG13)

How is learning changing in the digital age?

Digital is now becoming the default for everything, with the divide between digital and physical learning spaces continually eroding.  Our assumptions about linear change have to be thrown away, because technology is changing at an exponential rate, and we won't keep up and remain relevant unless we change our attitudes.

How is work changing in the digital age?

Businesses still sit on the fence, uncertain of when the real shifts in economics - such as digital advertising, the internet of things and cloud culture - will really start to take effect.  Mobile internet access is expected to be particularly disruptive, with mobile money transfers already commonplace in Africa.  Many standardised jobs based around transactions are becoming automated, so how do we adapt to this future?  The key is not to try to beat the machines, but consider how best to use new technology to our advantage.

The future is 'humarithms' - not algorithms

Companies that base their value on logic alone will eventually find themselves obsolete, because everyone is converging on the same set of logic, and it is only our intuition that can lead us to discover new ways of doing things.  As standardised work and protected spaces come to an end, businesses need to move towards a decentralised model, and e-learning can become a key part of organisational strategy.  But this has to move away from the standard perception of e-learning as distributing content - it has to be disruptive in nature, focused on breaking down the traditional silos.

Where are the future job roles?

Physical output is reaching its peak - we simply cannot continue with our model of outsourcing labour to cut costs.  As more value gets placed on the intangible products of a company, real human work will become focused on such areas as interface design, visualisation of data and software programming.  So as we move towards the complete automation of work, we have to ask ourselves if this will set human beings free, or doom us to become unemployable?  A tough question, but several members of the audience were quick to give their solutions:
  • Developing your identity in a world of automation will be increasingly important.  Know your value’ (via Ben Betts)
  • The future of work? Become indispensable’ (via Steve Wheeler)
  • Maybe we need some Big Wisdom – Wisdom trumps knowledge and information which will also trump data’ (via David Wilson)
See also: Learning & Skills Conference 2013 curated backchannel resources.