A theory about learning technology

Here is a theory about how technologies for learning are handled in organisations.

  • Organisations buy Technology Systems
  • Learning teams need products to help people learn
  • Users want tools to help them at work

Admittedly, this theory needs some evidential rigour to test it and refine it. It is based on generalisations from my own experience and network and may not sit well in all circumstance. Nevertheless, I believe there is merit here and will explain a little.

Organisations, mainly but not only corporates, govern technology decisions through a combination of functions: Information Technology, Procurement and Finance. These functions have a strong tendency to think a few years ahead, seeking to ensure predictability and consistency. They prefer a tidy room and everything to be in its place.

L&D teams need products that can be managed to satisfy end user needs. These needs are problems of knowledge, skills and behaviour at work. The kind of challenges which we describe as ‘mine’. They are personal. (There is a wide range of L&D functions out there. Some are progressive product managers, others are administrators, managing training control systems).

End users at work care about neither. They are looking for tools that help them get on with the problem at hand in the most useful way. Whether these are bought as systems or managed as products is uninteresting and irrelevant.

Users are always right. Organisations are not always wrong, but many have considerable work to do. Products managers have the honour of figuring this puzzle out.

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