What are the great opportunities for applying new technologies to support or enhance learning? And what are the common pitfalls to avoid? These were the main questions to explore during the Fishbowl event held in mid-February in London.
Great minds… join a fishbowl
Trent Rosen from PSK Performance organised the fourth London fishbowl and brought together an impressive panel again. Stella Collins, Sarah Lindsell, Geoff Stead, Matthew Mason and Nigel Paine shared their thoughts and engaged in discussion with the participants. With the Dorchester Collection Academy as a great location and Hannah Grennan as the host, it was an honour for me to moderate the session. Here are the main messages the panel and participants shared.
Seeing a learning technology provider as a partner
Choosing the right piece of technology is not easy. The first thing you should know is why you want a new technology solution and how it will help your people and organisation to become better. It is important to be able to really get to know the functionality of a solution, to actually play with it and be aware of all the functionalities ‘coming soon’ or ‘on the roadmap’. The more ‘bling-bling’, the more attention you need for the actual status of the functionality.
A good vendor will have a good conversation with you around these topics. In the end, you don’t choose a vendor only because of the technological functionalities but also for the people who work at the vendor. You want a partnership during sales but maybe even more during implementation and maintenance. People make the business — also at learning technology providers (also read ‘Starting with an online learning platform’).
Make it work
In general, there are no ‘plug and play’ solutions. It is very unlikely that one vendor can deliver a complete solution that solves all challenges at hand. It’s smarter to think in terms of an ‘ecosystem’ of solutions. That also means that new solutions and existing infrastructure need to be integrated, and it is important to check that at an early stage. It is also important that new learning technology fits within what users expect. They have their actual user experience via other digital platforms and tools, both at work and in their private lives, and expect a user experience at the same level from a learning technology solution.
Each organisation also has its own ‘logic’ when it comes to the use of technology. It’s important to understand when and how people like to use technology to get their work done. Try to understand that by analysing user data and use these insights. Also engage users to explore what works for them and use these insights to implement new learning technology.
Culture eats learning technology for breakfast
What came back a few times during the discussion was the influence of culture. You can bring in the best of the best learning technologies with all kinds of cool and new features that can enhance learning in a way never seen before. But if the culture doesn’t allow people to spend time on learning, to be online or to experiment and make failures once in a while, it won’t work. A great learning technology can never beat a bad learning culture. However, a bad learning culture can easily beat a good learning technology. So the final recap statement of the Fishbowl was that ‘culture eats learning technology for breakfast’.