Life without Wikipedia - imagine that?by
As we approach 2015, members of the Charity Learning Consortium look back at the huge changes in learning technologies over the last 15 years, and talk about their hopes for learning in the future.
What were you doing in 2000, the start of the new millennium? I was at primary school watching chunky VHS tapes, and playing on huge desktop computers. It was the dawn of a new way of learning, using technology in ways that were previously unimaginable: Google was in its infancy having only been formed in 1998; the term Wi-Fi had only just been coined (in 1999); broadband had just become available in 2000; and Wikipedia didn't exist until 2001. All of this in a mere 15 years.
As we move into 2015, I asked several members of the Charity Learning Consortium to reflect on the past 15 years of using technology for learning. We also wanted to gaze into the future to see what's on their learning technology horizon. Here’s what they had to say...
What advances have you or your organisation made in using technology for learning in the last 15 years?
"In the last 15 years we’ve moved from using acetates to PowerPoint to Twitter chats and MOOCs. It's been a rollercoaster ride with highs and lows but every time we’ve been brave enough to take a new leap forwards it’s been hugely valuable." Kandy Woodfield, Director of Learning & Enterprise at NatCen Social Research
"Fifteen years ago the only technology we used was VHS videos, CDs and cassette tapes. We then progressed to elearning on CD and replaced videos with DVDs, but now have most of it online. This has made our resources much more accessible to all our staff and volunteers, wherever they are and whenever they need it, and has streamlined the administration and reporting behind it." John Le Rossignol, Learning Resources Manager at RNLI
"Technology has blossomed. When I started working in learning and development in 2001, there were still more OHP (over head projector) machines than data projectors in the office. Today I notice learners learning in their own time on phone apps. It's a different world." Martin Botting, Organisational Development Manager at Aldingbourne Trust
"Our IT infrastructure at the NAS has changed considerably over the last few years. We've introduced interactive whiteboards/tables in our schools along with the use of IPads for our students to aid their learning. We're also using WebEx technology heavily for online training and meetings, alongside eLearning for mandatory courses as well as online resources." Nicola Tyzack, Organisational Development Administrator at The National Autistic Society
How is technology helping you/your organisation do ‘more for less’ within L&D?
"Delivery of all our mandatory training via our internally developed elearning has resulted in an annual cost saving of in excess of £162K - which is roughly three times our entire elearning budget - and ensures all staff and volunteers have access on demand." Velda Barnes, Head of Learning & Development at Addaction
"We're starting to look at compliance in more detail and are in the process of adding eAssessments to our LMS, which would allow all staff to test their theoretical knowledge instead of them attending repetitive face to face sessions. This would save staff coming off their shifts, and reduce the amount of training an individual does - so they do what they need and show their practice and competency whilst working on the job." Mark Turton, Trust Training Manager, The Orders of St John Care Trust
"Using elearning has enabled us to reduce the use of traditional face to face training and reach staff that are geographically away from the centre. This has improved the number of learners we can reach, and also allows for bespoke courses to be developed from a central core." Peter Coley, Head of Learning & Development at St Mungo’s Broadway
"Our online learning platform has greatly reduced our printing and postal expenditure and has enabled us to introduce a blended learning approach. This has significantly reduced time and cost in terms of travel, time away from the day job and trainer contact time.” John Le Rossignol, Learning Resources Manager at RNLI
Well, the use of elearning to reduce costs doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but I wonder how organisations are looking to develop. Now for my favourite part - and the most exciting - what are our members planning to do in the future?
What’s on your organisation’s learning technology horizon for the next 15 years?
"We're examining social media as a platform for delivering small bite-size learning interventions, and also the use of virtual training to reach the expanding workforce. All our internal IT will be cloud based and this will allow our LMS to be fully compatible with the organisation." Peter Coley, Head of Learning & Development at St Mungo’s Broadway
"We’ve just launched our first social platform for learning and it’s enabling us to effectively blend our L&D programme in a way that wasn’t possible two years ago. Now we curate a wide range of learning resources, we can weave in MOOCs, live online learning and social forums - empowering our staff to direct and shape their own learning pathways. In the future we’re excited about using the Curatr platform for developing organisation-wide, MOOC-like initiatives which bring our staff based in the office and field together, to learn from one another and share their expertise." Kandy Woodfield, Director of Learning & Enterprise at NatCen Social Research
"Developing apps for mobile; integrating formal and informal learning; after that who knows!" Velda Barnes, Head of Learning & Development at Addaction
"Currently a complete overhaul of our IT systems and looking ahead to more use of mobile and social learning." John Le Rossignol, Learning Resources Manager at RNLI
"The hope is that our LMS will 'speak' to our HR/Training management system. This would fast track any training someone had taken and automatically update the records in the HR system, without the need for human intervention. The use of mobile learning will be useful to assist in blended learning, but it'll still be a case of small gains to meet a greater opportunity to upskill and maintain our employee's learning needs." Mark Turton, Trust Training Manager, The Orders of St John Care Trust
"We want to continue to increase and build on the use of eLearning and WebEx technology throughout the organisation and really get this embedded as part of blended learning. We've recently gone through an upgrade in our IT systems and are also looking more towards online collaboration possibilities with things like Yammer or Lync. To be able to tie all of our systems together with mobile capabilities would also be a great step forward." Nicola Tyzack, Organisational Development Administrator at the National Autistic Society
“We think small is beautiful - like us! We want learners to learn using whatever means necessary. Choice is broadening; so let people choose whatever's right for them.” Martin Botting, Organisational Development Manager at Aldingbourne Trust
Rosie Haighton is the Community Manager at the Charity Learning Consortium. Connect with Rosie on Twitter @RosieHaighton1 and @charitylearning and let us know your memories of using learning technologies over the past 15 years.