A while ago (quite a while for subscribers who have experienced the delay) I decided to start a newsletter covering what I see as the most interesting themes of the work I do (making the most of digital learning). Beyond the self-interest of keeping people in touch with my efforts, I believe the industry misses environments and moments to pause and consider how we are shaping up and the themes which make digital learning what it is and what it needs to become. This is not quite a unique idea – there are some great podcast interview formats and plenty of social channels available. I hope this newsletter is a nourishing complement.
This post is an opportunity to sample the first edition of the newsletter (distributed at the start of the week) and see if it might be for you. There is a sign up box at the bottom of the page – or you can register here. So, here is edition #1…
10L Newsletter #1
If you recall, one of the three intents of the newsletter is to keep you up to date with the 10L interviews (which are published roughly weekly). The most recent is with, the both thoughtful and charming, Micheal Strawbridge. I am no thespian but Michael’s insight from an on stage blooper is a lesson to us all. Other 10L interview contributions are here, including plenty of personal insight and ideas from a range of experienced brains. A good coffee time read, if I say so myself.
Keeping in touch with recent blog posts is the second principal reason the newsletter is here. It is highly likely that I am more concerned about you missing my posts more than you are, nevertheless this newsletter is an easy route to keeping in touch.
So…the news of Articulate being valued at $3.75 billion and receiving $1.5 billion in funding stopped me in my tracks. Not that they don’t deserve it but due to what it indicates for the realities of the market. For investors, I wonder if learning actually does = content after all. If that equation then holds true because for buyers of learning technology learning also = content. Coming into 2021 I was rehearsing the view that the market is maturing and growing in sophistication. This investment has called that into question. The reality may actually be that the market is sounding more sophisticated and progressive whilst still ordering meat and two veg rather than grazing from the smorgasbord. The market though, as we know, never lies. There was also some interesting discussion on LinkedIn on this theme, with most contributors taking a similar and variably jaundiced view. Donald Clark, reliably pushing the boat that little further out, suggests that the vast majority of elearning is ripe for automation, having been effectively the same for 35 years. It’s hard to disagree until we come up with something more refreshing than the SCORM wrapped module.
This leads me to the final notion behind the newsletter – some commentary around the news and trends. We live in interesting times in our professional world and there is plenty to reflect on. My contribution to this reflection is to package up some recent items that have piqued my interest and share some reflections with you. Picking up from Donald’s point, the automation of mundane tasks will become commonplace in many areas. With due apologies for throwing buzzwords around, commentary on “Software 2.0” caught my eye – software, with the help of AI, developing software.
In their review of Top Trends in Tech, McKinsey picked this out for attention, amongst other themes. As software starts to write itself, process and administration automation will accelerate further, quite a lot further it seems. One example highlighted is risk management in financial services where investment models can be created and adapted to monitor risk and compliance issues automatically. Time to release fell from ‘months to minutes’. Hyperbole or no, this is a radical jump in efficiency.
Given the amount of time and effort spent in the learning technologies world on both course administration and compliance, this is a very significant trend. Imagine your LMS adjusting itself to respond to new regulation requirements and targeting ‘learning’ (= content, remember) at the right populations whilst its sibling automates the content creation (= learning, yes) and assessment ready for release. Much saving of time and effort in preparing those compliance meat and potatoes.
This is less science fiction than we once might have thought. The GPT-3 development can already create text which is difficult to distinguish from human drafted content. (Fake news, anyone?). Access has been restricted whilst decisions about how to manage it are made, but the commercial opportunity is pretty clear. Creating content is no longer only a human problem to solve. Similarly, This Code Does Not Exist is an experiment in creating AI generated sections of code based on the Git Hub repository. The site asks us to judge whether the code is real or created by GPT-2 (the version 3 predecessor). I have no idea how to judge myself, so clicked at random, and apparently scores so far, from over 300,000 assessments show 51% are correct, which makes me an expert I reckon.
Back to my L&D sophistication theme, this is one of the reasons the profession needs to raise its sights from learning = content and learning management = administration. The practical application of these technologies is on the horizon but not at such a great distance. No matter how hard we feel these activities seem, it will simply not be that complex any more to software rapidly increasing in sophistication. We need to seek value elsewhere and flex those design and conversation muscles before something else does all the making and managing for us. The AI will struggle with judging human relevance I expect and, as always, this is where we must focus to retain our own relevance.
And on that note, I shall conclude this first edition. Let me know what you think of it so far and I will attempt to steer the course as we go.
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