2019 will be the year that the role of Humans will become more clearly defined in relation to the digital world we live in. It remains irrefutable that humans are still the most important asset to the vast majority of businesses. But what we do, how we are different, and what we can achieve with technology is still open to debate.
How do we fit in? Can we even keep up? The speed of technological advancement and adoption is unprecedented. Remember that we live in a world where the landline telephone and TV took 73 years and 13 years respectively to reach 50 million users, but Pokemon Go took just 36 hours to reach that amount.
In 2018 $9.52 billion dollars was spent on technology in learning, a 30% increase on 2017. But it is fair to say that much of that investment wasn’t successful. We are in a state of Permanent Beta, which is not necessarily a bad thing as we are always evolving. With learning technologies, it is the same; most companies are operating in permanent beta mode, switching LMS providers, implementing communications solutions like Yammer with limited success. Why?
Well let’s take a step back…
In March 2016, Musk, Hawking and Wozniak wrote a letter to the UN, warning of the speed of artificial intelligence, stating that it represented the biggest potential risk to humans in our history. Warning specifically that it could overtake the human brain very soon. In July 2017 they wrote to them again, saying that this had now happened.
Just two years ago, Charles Jennings was quoted as saying “accessibility has replaced retained knowledge as power in business” Things are changing, as although this is still vitally important, it is perhaps not the total solution.
Humans are fighting back, bringing a new sense of collaboration and morality to the use of AI. Utilising AI to our advantage will be incredible for learning, but not without some essential human skills. That is the big difference now.
Core to this will be ‘critical thinking’. So, although accessibility is important, what we do with this information, and how we truly know things, is now being seen differently. The WEF (World Economic Forum) Report put critical thinking top of the list of the most employable skills needed by 2020.
If it was true that facts are unimportant to know, in a post-truth democracy, and that you can just google anything, then people would have googled the science and know that knowledge encoded in long-term memory is the fundamental basis of critical thinking. In other words they would have just googled the fact they were wrong. True learning creates critical thinking.
The internet is not a substitute for your brain – it has no morals, no emotions..etc. A recent Forbes article argues that all skills exist within a context, and work through a medium. You cannot perfect waves without a medium for them to run through. Reading skills are knowledge-dependent. Another example – phonics – you may sound out a word you’ve never heard of but not know what it actually means.
This industrial revolution will be about people. We can spend as much or as little as we like on technology, but it is people that will make the difference. Graduates in two years-time will all have been born in the 21st century. They will have started school the year the iphone launched, but they will be starting work in business rooted in 20th century practices.
Almost all the world’s most serious problems – greed, hate, anger, jealousy, fear have human origins. We will need human abilities to counter and overcome them. It is the same in business. We need more humanity in business.
The development of essential human skills and digital competence, in line with the performance of people and business will be the critical role L&D will play.
This will be the definition of success for learning professionals in 2019. So what do those skills really look like for learning professionals?
Data from the LPI Capability Map shows that the following are the biggest skills gaps, but also the most desirable skills for learning professionals:
- Video Production
- Learning Experience Designer
- Content Curator
- Social Community Manager
- Data Analyst
- Live Online Learning Facilitator
If we are to really make a positive difference with the performance of individuals and organisations, then we need to be investing in these areas. The opportunity to associate learning with success has never been bigger, but now we can see the clarity behind what our role will be.
Let’s commit to embracing technology, developing our human skills and truly driving performance.