It's nice when people care enough about what I'm saying to leave a comment on the blog.
I got a comment earlier today about my most recent post. I've proposed that elearning professionals come from a long line of learning technology solution designers, and by definition, are competent in (1) ID skills and (2) IT skills. My commentor suggested that I have fallen into a technology trap. Perhaps I have. Maybe, better put, I am trying to get out of one.
As long as a/v media and digital technologies of various kinds have been deployed in teaching, learning and training settings, there has been a role for specialists who understand both how to design instructional/learning solutions that are valid, reliable and effective AND how to script, produce and develop engaging, rich technology-mediated experience. Someone who can help reduce the friction that naturally occurs at the intersection when one practice rubs up against another.
And I say this not as some who teaches with technology. I say this as someone who does market research on what does and does not seem to influence how industries evolve. What I've seen is that the prospective impact of an effective learning design is greatly facilitated if it is accompanied by an experience that engages and inspires. And these days one of the places where people are investing in learning experience is in technology. Today there is a growing need for this kind of person who can make the piece parts come together better.
In spite of the fact that ID/IT specialists types (who today tends to be bunched under a number of job titles, "elearning professional" "instructional designer" and "learning technologist" among them) are found in virtually every school, every business, every government agency, every NGO in the world....
...it is a profession that is virtually invisible because there is no consistency in what it is called, as we go by so many different names. Which means that we are not seen in any number, which also means we're not seen in any volume (which in technology is kind of a bad thing). We're not numbered on Labor censuses and surveys - we fall into the category of "other". Ever fill out the requisite form when you want to download a research whitepaper or some such thing? What industry to DO work in? What's YOUR sector?
When you are unnamed, you're at greater risk of being excluded because nobody really knows where you are or what you do. You probably don't have much buying power. Or revenue generating power. Which means not much perceived strategic value. Which means no clout.
I'm not saying this to be mean. Or to pontificate. I'm saying this as a shared wake-up call. Better, as an invitation to get better at articulating the value proposition of what learning technology specialists can contribute to the strategic well-being of our stakeholders and constituents at a time when driving new value matters.
Should elearning practices and ID/IT professionals be defined by our ability to produce courseware? Well, we're going to be judged by our technology facility, might as well accept that. It's half of what we do. So yes. We gotta get better and raise the bar on our technological competencies. So courseware, as the dominant paradigm. And apps, because that where the industry is heading. And games. And virtual worlds.
Or do we believe that the thing that makes us unique as an industry is using technology to enable learning? Well, yes to that, too. We gotta. It's the other half of what we do. Enabling learning through the design of solutions that empower individuals and organizations. We need to know enough about learning theory - AND about assessment and measurement - AND about evaluation - AND about pedagogy/andragogy - that we can actually produce a design that intentionally improves learning and performance.
We have a while before the new economy picks up speed, so there is still time to get smart about working smarter, using our networks and letting technology mediate experience. We'll need to be ready. Sort of like training for a race. Or maybe even an ID-cathelon.