Learning@work conference reflections

image from a tweet at the Learning@work conference

CC licensed image from twitter by (Vanessa Wiltshire) @twofacedHRlady

This week I attended the Learning@work conference this week at Redfern Technology Park (27-28th October 2014). The theme of the conference was around trends and challenges affecting the workplace learning environment. Presentations and attendees were predominately from the corporate sector or large government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office or Australian Electoral Commission. Interestingly there were not presenters from the EDU sector, although there were quite a few attendees from TAFE and the Higher Ed sector.

What I found fascinating was the theme of social learning which resonated across numerous presentations, particularly Learning and Development managers from the corporate sector who are introducing social media into their organisations capability development programs. Jane Hart set the tone here early on the first day with a keynote on “Social Learning – Learning in the social workforce” in which she contrasted personal social learning (Continues, On demand, Unstructured, Autonomous) with traditional Direct learning (Scheduled events, Structured, Directed). She pointed out research data which showed that when asked employees rated company training the lowest in teams of work place learning . She emphasised that a social learning strategy can’t be driven from the top, directing staff to become autonomous social learners but rather encouraged managers to start by developing their own social learning skills and that of their team. Michelle Ockers from Coca-Cola Amatil outlined how they were adding value in a age of knowledge sharing and collaboration through their social learning practitioner programme.

Interestingly most of the Learning and Development managers were Gen-y,  tweeting throughout their presentations while inviting responses with the hashtag #learningatwork. I could not help but think this might also be at work with the introduction of social learning in corporate workplaces.

Sydney TAFE has been incorporating social learning into online learning programs since 2007, initially with the introduction of wikis and blogs and with social networking since 2011 (when DEC unblocked social media for staff). Facebook has been very successful as a tool in supporting online learning.

image of book cover from the decoded company

I could not end this post without mentioning Rahaf Harfoush’s @rahafharfoush presentation on the Decoded company. Based upon her book of the same name co-authored with Leeton Segal, Aaron Goldstein and Jay Goldman she outlined 3 trends impacting work and learning in post industrial societies. At the core of her argument was big data, the convergence of massive personal data creation ie. images, tweets, FB posts etc., personalisation of live data from devices ie. exercise and health monitors and the capacity for organisations to analyse the data and make predictive assessments and judgements. In the vision for the decoded company workers will get just in time training when they need it where they need it just before they are about to perform a task. While she did not discuss the privacy issues surrounding monitoring workers every move one can see the potential affordances, image a student in workplace in which when they are about to perform a task are presented with content to assist them on a mobile device.

I purchased her book via Kindle during her presentation no doubt adding to amazons analytics engine :>

Overall a worthwhile conference, keep your eye out for reflections from other Workforce Development team members. :>



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