The Philosophical Divide Remains in the Learning Industry
A few weeks ago I attended ISA’s 2008 Annual Business Retreat in Phoenix, Arizona
ISA is the Association of Learning Providers, and positions itself as the only association devoted exclusively to the issues and needs of executives in the learning industry.
Being new to the association, my goal was to participate in as many of the conference activities as possible to learn what I could about the organization and its members.
I was pleased to find the conference to be well organized and filled with sessions on a wide variety of intriguing and pertinent topics; each led by informed, experienced and engaging speakers. Some of the more thought provoking topics included burgeoning industry trends, industry financial statistics and benchmarking, marketing analysis, merger and acquisition case studies, and success stories.
One of the things I found most refreshing about the ISA Conference was the pervasive atmosphere of warmth and openness amongst both the staff and members. As a “newbie” to the organization, within hours of my arrival I was made to feel as though I had been part of this group for decades.
Each of the conference sessions required a great deal of group participation, which quickly revealed the underlying schism that still resides within the learning industry.
Call me naive or myopic in my view of our industry’s evolution, but I simply was not prepared for the depth of the philosophical divide that remains between traditional and technology focused learning providers.
As the subject of traditional instructor led training verses web-based training continued as a theme throughout each session of the conference, the divide seemed to only grow … to the point where a nationally recognized presenter, attempting to demonstrate ”bleeding edge” learning technologies (podcasting, Second Life environments, etc …), had his presentation derailed by an onslaught of antagonistic questioning from attendees focused on traditional learning methodologies.
Time and again, I overheard phrases like “We offer some forms of web-based learning, but only when required by customers in order to retain their business.”
I went to the conference expecting to be exposed to different points of view, based on the varying experiences of the members, but not nearly to such an aggressive degree; particularly on a topic I thought long dead.
Fortunately, with our philosophies and methodologies firmly based upon a blend of traditional and web-based learning solutions, I was able to understand and speak to both viewpoints.
But as the needs of our customers continue to evolve, particularly with the growing demands of the ”new workforce,” it seems to me choosing one approach over the other is an exercise in futility … The choice is already being made, it’s now simply a matter of whether we’re choosing to listen and react.
Author: Peter Kelley