Learning as part of the bigger picture

I am currently undertaking the Exploring Social Learning MOOC thanks to Martin Couzins and Sam Burrough. It is all about looking at the realities of social learning and how we can get the approach really working in the context of organisations today. What I expected about this topic was that it would draw on lots of ‘learning’ related content I had either read or seen referred to in the past. What I didn’t expect was for it to draw on some of the broader organisational challenges I am seeing more widely debated beyond the L&D space in HR and talent circles.

Two of the videos featured in the first week of the course were by speakers who keynoted at HR Tech Europe in the Autumn and I discuss their frankly brilliant sessions in a previous post here. Aside from the fact that the evolution of organisational structure and hierarchy is anthropologically interesting, the bit about this type of content that intrigues me most is where L&D fits into the bigger picture.


There seems to be agreement amongst today’s leading thinkers that we are going about our everyday lives in a very uncertain and volatile world (VUCA – to coin the phrase – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). And that social change, technological advances, world wide networks and instant connectivity have apparently altered everything forever. Although, in a tweet chat last week for #exploresocial there was indeed a bit of consensus that things have probably always been uncertain throughout the ages, but it is the way in which we are now interconnected and ‘always on’ that has accelerated the pace of change and added to the overall volatility we seem to be feeling today.

Why is this relevant to learning? Well prior to embarking on the MOOC I am not sure I would have drawn immediate parallels. But myself and fellow MOOCers were challenged from the beginning to consider if traditional learning and development approaches are well suited to helping people deal with the challenges our uncertain world presents. Or could social learning hold the key to success? If L&D becomes more agile in its approach, does that help our people do the same, thanks to learning that is easily found at the point of need and up to date information always available as a result of more collaborative approaches to working and learning, peer to peer sharing and interconnected networks of like minded people?

The MOOC and the debate is still ongoing and I will keep you updated on how that continues. But as I look ahead to the next edition of HR Tech Europe which touches down in London next month, the same debate is being played out across the agenda to a much broader audience which includes not just L&D folk but HR generalists, payroll specialists, recruiters and more. The opening keynote will explore how organisations can adopt network thinking to stay ahead of the game in an uncertain world. And sessions throughout the event are delving into the impact of social collaboration and prepping us for ‘tomorrow’s world’. It’s pleasing that the Future of Workforce Learning has a stream in its own right. But it is the inclusion of learning in these wider debates that is even more exciting. Could it hold the key to organisations’ ability to adapt, survive and thrive in a VUCA world?

I’m looking forward to once again be part of the blog squad for this event and bringing you some insights on all of this. I’ll also be interviewing some of the speakers and learning experts between now and kick off on 24 March 2015. And I’ll have finished the MOOC by then too. Stay tuned for updates… Unless the world turns upside down in the meantime and someone pulls the plug. In which case I’m pretty certain even more volatility would kick in, but maybe that’s for another post 🙂


About kategraham23

Start-up founder, writer, connector, librarian's daughter. Interested in learning, HR, technology, online, media, marketing, fashion and cricket. Not always in that order. The views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the company I work for currently, or those I've worked for in the past.
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