Passing the first post: Making it up as we go along

The urge to justify myself is upon me. Given the ease of expressing oneself this contribution needs some deliberate placing. So…this first post is an attempt to claim that position. A clearing of the blogging throat. This blog will be about work essentially and about the work of applying technology to learning. I can’t really claim a studious heritage in education, training or psychology. Neither can I point to a long history as a teacher or trainer (or a short one). By now, I have been travelling the learning technologies territory for many years and I might just be finding my feet. I find myself with opinions and points of view on what is and might be happening with the current world of learning and the use of digital things to that end.

Not all opinions should be shared, of course. Some should be buried and built over. With good intentions, however, an opinion shared may have value beyond the polishing of an ego. I hope to use this blog as a means of sharing them (the better ones) and figuring out their value. If things go well, a few interested folk may help to steer me and share their own views. So, do sing along with the parts you recognise.

This will be blogging as a kind of public rehearsal. (Possibly as a form of modest therapy). Early parenthood taught me that we are all making it up as we go along. Improvising and busking, hoping and waiting for familiar patterns and melodies. Some do this with great confidence and panache. Some falter and are less convinced and convincing. We are all figuring things out afresh however. This is nowhere more true than in ‘digital learning’, whatever it may be, where a great global experiment is well underway.

So…I think this is my first opinion to post. It is healthy to be suspicious of those who are offering (or selling) certainty in the learning technology game. Even a high degree of confidence is worthy of a good dose of scepticism (and a well guarded wallet). Phrases and words such as digital, training, data, mobile, learning, social, online, networked and such, are hard to grasp on their own. In combination they can be very slippery no matter how cool they sound. The older certainties of the LMS and instructional design feel increasingly less relevant, no matter how reassuringly familiar. The new horizons of social learning, for example, are exciting in their adolescence (or childhood, for the less excited) but it’s hard to see what kind of adulthood may emerge. Perhaps confusion is a sign of good judgement? It is a great time to experiment though and figure some of those genuinely valuable answers to the best learning question: “Why would anyone want to use that?” The plain English equivalent of asking for the use case – the cornerstone of any good product design. (Asked in polite English of course. There is no need to be rude.)

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