The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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The Future of Learning

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Those of you who read this blog often know that I’m a cyclist and generally a fitness kind of guy.  I’m actually fairly obsessive, and on a recent day entering my daily food and caloric intake into my smart phone, I thought how wonderful it would be if I could record my daily learning experiences in the same way.  Currently my phone is a Motorola Droid, a Google Android based phone because I’m on Verizon and won’t give up their network (which I consider to be better in the cities I commonly travel to).  I use an application called, and the calorie counter application allows me to easily search restaurant menus, foods, and even scan packaging barcodes using the camera interface, all of which will automatically enter in calorie counts along with all sorts of other data.

The problem with current state learning technologies is that you have specific learning objectives, participate in learning experiences whatever they may be, and record them.  This is indeed a good way to track formal learning experiences, but in reality, learning happens outside of these set experiences.  I definitely think that one must record the coursework, mentorship experiences, seminars and conferences that people participate in.  But it all seemed somewhat limited and limiting.

As I entered my daily food into my phone, I thought how the same could be done for learning, although the applications in talent probably go far beyond learning.  Learning happens at random times, in random conversations.  It could be during a “watercooler” conversation, or reading a blog, or having an idea while entering food into your phone.  But all too often, these events remain unrecorded and ultimately forgotten.  In order to capture these, learning really has to be captured at the point of entry, at the time that learning occurs.

Personally, I can’t enter into my food diary at the end of a day, let along days later.  Perhaps it’s rude, but I tend to enter into my food diary at the end of each meal.  The same really has to happen for learning.  If my manager wants to know what I’m doing, there is probably just as much data as a food diary.  Everything I read, and even the things that I think about and develop on my own are subject to being recorded.  Similar to a food diary, categorization, metrics, and progress tracking all can happen real time.

I don’t know if everyone is as consumed by their smart phones as I am, but given what I see at airports and restaurants, there are enough of us that do use our phones for everything that using point of entry learning applications is plausible.  As time goes on, and organizations roll out smart phones to their populations, I’d hope that learning and talent vendors continue to look into the next generation of learning apps.

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