Interview: Nick Shackleton-Jones - Advances in technology
As part of Brightwave's 'What a difference' video series, Nick Shackleton-Jones, Group Head of eLearning (Leadership Development & Talent) at BP, looks forward to the next 10 years of technology-enabled learning.
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So, big trends that we’re seeing outside of the workplace, but I think increasingly will start to influence the workplace: mobile, social, gaming. I guess everybody talks about these. Everybody can see there’s an opportunity but the real challenge is to figure out what impact they’re going to make and how to kind of steer that, or how to be involved in it.
So in terms of mobile, the kind of ubiquity of information; learning resources which are there when you need them. But more importantly I think in the format that you need them.
But it’s actually quite difficult chasing mobile devices. I’ve spent a long – many years, actually, trying to fit content to mobile devices, and actually the good news is the mobile devices are kind of coming to us in terms of content.
Notwithstanding that, the kind of imminent demise of flash, because it’s not supported on many mobile devices, is a real cause for concern. So that’s a challenge.
Social, again. Big issues around how organisations will implement social. Lots of organisations have an appetite for doing it, in much the same way that they had an appetite for implementing e-learning. And there’s real potential for that to go horribly wrong.
It’s much more about culture. Social learning isn’t a technology; it’s a question of a behaviour. And the fact that people engage in social media and whatever is often misunderstood. People don’t understand why they do it; people don’t understand why for example they don’t do it, when they’re part of an organisation. And that’s a challenge that has to be really tackled there, to kind of get it to work.
And I think gaming is another one. I was blogging just actually yesterday about gaming. I think there’s enthusiasm for gaming; people have always been able to see that games have this fantastic ability to engage people.
But if I can tell a short story, about 15 years ago I was working with a company and I re-engineered, or was doing a little bit of C# programming to take a games engine and make it suitable for a shared learning environment.
And we got to the point where we found ourselves in this environment, kind of stripped of weaponry and all this kind of stuff, looking at a PowerPoint slide on a wall in a 3D environment. And I thought “Well, we’ve actually achieved nothing, by doing this; it’s just ridiculous. We’d be better off just sending each other PowerPoints.”
So, the workplace in 2020; this is actually the only answer that I’m 100% certain about, and I’ll tell you about the workplace in 2020. All these things – iPhones – I’m a bit geeky like this – iPhones, iPads, they are ridiculous. They’ll be gone in 2020.
The idea that you have a screen is just silly. And I’ll tell you what’s silly about it. As you move around the world, increasingly you can find information about that world around you – that’s what Facebook is. You meet people; you find information about them online. And the separation of those two things is just a blip in our history.
If I meet you, for example, I can sort of Facebook you or Google you, but there’s no reason why that information about you shouldn’t be available as I look at you. And so by 2020 we’ll just kind of merge those two things; you’ll wear a headset, you won’t have a screen, the information you need will be there in your visual field without you having to look at something, look at screen, look at something, look at the screen, look at something, look at the screen. It’s just a silly thing to do. So I’m confident that, give or take a few years, by 2020, that’s where we’ll be.
So, in terms of how the kind of technology that I’m envisaging for 2020 will impact on learning, again it’s not as dramatic as you might actually think it would be.
Already what we’re seeing is that the format of learning is moving into much shorter, more context specific chunks. So we kind of shoot very short videos about how to do something – if you go on YouTube there are videos around how to cook this, how to hammer a nail in, whatever. And that lends itself to an environment where you navigate around it and as you need a piece of information or a resource, it’s right there to hand.
So I think actually it will seem like a natural continuation.
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