A midlife crisis? Lessons for learning.

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No, I have not bought a red sports car, nor got myself a toy boy! But I have taken up SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Boarding and go out every morning at 6am if the wind is right and paddle at least 2 km. I am also learning the guitar. And we do live in Bali for a good part of each year with our daughter at Bali Green School. And well yes, I have been a green juicer for a few years now.  (Next 11 day juice fast starts on 1 March if anyone wants to join me and my little group)

Now, who would of thought, a mid forties, middle class corporate gal would head down that track! I certainly didn’t!

What has been really interesting though is how I have been learning these things and how that might apply to how we think about learning in organisations.

Take Paddle boarding for example. I hired a board for a week between Christmas and New Year and just could not bear to be without a board. So I jumped on Trademe and bought the first good looking one I saw. It was new, shiny and still in it’s wrap and half the RRP. The Anderson website said it was a good board for women beginners. Well that sounded like me, so I pushed the ‘Buy Now’ button. Well did I do enough research?’ No! It was too short, too narrow and not deep enough. In short, I bought a SUP for surfing, not cruising between Rothesay and Browns Bay each morning! It meant it was ‘tippy’ and the water had to be glass before I could go out. I was lucky enough to resell on Trademe and get another new (but ‘no brand’ import) that is like a boat that I can go out in most weather. Oh, except for the time I had to get rescued on Lake Pupuke after getting blown away and having a melt down on the water when my paddle broke. But that is a story for another day! So the lesson for learning: Do your research.

Now Guitar. I am learning because my daughter is very musical and loves singing, and watching American Idol and putting on ‘shows’ at home. Green School parents come from all over the world with the same motivation, to give their children the best education. Usually very unpretentious, playing the guitar is quite common. (No, it is not a hippy school in the jungle:) So I thought learning the guitar would be a kind of good thing to do too. So back to Trademe (because ‘reduce:reuse:recycle’ is big in our house) I bought two guitars. One for Sophia and one for me. Hers black with purple stars, mine, the usual looking guitar. Turns out, mine was too small for me and hers to big for her. I now have a black guitar with purple stars. Remember: Do your research.

So here is the interesting thing. We got the guitars. We learnt the names for the parts of the guitar, how to hold it, the string names, and even how to use the tuner, and tune the guitars all from youtube.There are certain songs we want to learn. She loves the music from Frozen, still in the movies, she knows all of the words. She can learn this on youtube.  I want to learn the Green School song, for which I am getting the song sheet and will self teach.

So as L&D professionals, designing and developing learning, we need to consider, if we have highly motivated audiences, how can we use instruction video (or other media) to allow learners to learn at their own pace, at their own time?  Good video doesn’t have to expensive to create. You just need to ‘get’ creative. There are so many amazing tools out there that help enhance, engage and track learner experience.You just need to find them. Do this by surrounding yourself with people who are in the know, do your research, network, read well, be a life long learner, try new tools. I put interesting ones here.

Many universities now have skype available for lectures allowing students to take lectures in the comfort of their home. And if they miss it, listen to it recorded in their own time. We need to thinking differently about how and when we teach  people. We need to cater for people coming into organisations who have learnt this way at school and university. What would they think of being put through a linear, boring elearning course? Sitting in a one day face to face training session?

I am also currently doing the Cousera, Penn University Gamification MOOC (Massive, Open, Online, Course). 47000 people from around the world are participating. Video based with reading. It’s free. I get to do it in my own time. And it’s peer assessed. I get to communicate with people from around the world.

The world of learning is changing. Free education, free, low/no cost learning through the likes of Udemy, Khan Academy, Coursera etc. What does that mean if you are a training provider? It may not be impacting now, but it will. www.asklynda.com, is a great example of moving classroom based training to online at low cost.

Competing with highly skilled freelancers in India, China, Asia easily accessible through elance and odesk, just to name two. What does that mean for contractors, graphic designers, elearning developers? Bloom’s admin is done off shore on an Island on the Great Lakes in Ontario by a Virtual Assistant. Low cost overheads mean we can be competitive in the market.

We need to think global, bigger, smarter so that we can add the most value for the organisaitons in which we support. To show them value, linking to required business results.

We still though, are human. And as Maslow would tell you, after physiological needs (breathing, food, water, sleep etc) and safety (body, property, health etc), belonging is next. Because of this,  I don’t believe any tech tools or online learning will take away from people’s innate need to belong and maybe learn together. But we do need to consider as people’s lives have got faster, busier more global, what are the implications of what is coming down the track in terms of changes to the way we learn, teach, design, coach, etc.

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