Global Perspectives on Learning Crossroads
I just returned from an intriguing and provocative learning visit to Doha, Qatar (Middle East) and Almaty, Kazakhstan (Central Asia). It was a fascinating visit that overlapped with Qatar’s role in the Israel hostage exchange and the firing of the CEO of OpenAI.
It was both exhilarating and challenging to explore how learning and education might evolve in the next few years - for everyone, everywhere on a global scale. I presented at the EdCrunch X event in Almaty and had wonderful dialogues with the leaders of the WISE project of the Qatar Foundation in Doha!
Here are some of the conversations and highlights from my visit to these two very different countries and interactions with learning colleagues from Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East:
AI & Learning: There was a very different set of conversations and quite divergent approaches to how AI would impact/evolve/change workplace learning. The learning vendors were all adding AI to their marketing materials and demonstrating how they would link or leverage generative AI rapidly. Fewer were actually providing innovations that would directly help the learner - though that was on most future builds.
AI & TechBro’s: Our visit overlapped with the firing and rehiring of Sam Altman at OpenAI. In both Qatar and Kazakhstan, there was exhaustion and cynicism about the media coverage the Sam Altman and other male entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. The phrase “TechBro’s” was used to describe the celebritization of these leaders, rather than the innovations and transformation they are claiming. Someone said it felt like we were watching a reality show or gossip column - all the way to talk of a extreme boxing fight between Musk and Zuckerberg.
Move Beyond the Course as a Unit of Learning: My speeches and conversations were focused on moving beyond the “COURSE” as the primary unit of learning. Ask 10 random people in your organization how they learned to their job better - and only 1 or 2 would point to a course they took. The rest would refer to people, observations, feedback, online video and other learning “experiences”. Yet, our Learning Systems still use the course as a the main unit of delivery. It is time to evolve a new term to reflect learning experiences.
HR, Talent, Skills & Learning Alignment: An international perspective on skills was quite evident in our dialogues. Colleagues were advocating for a much closer integration and alignment of the HR/Talent functions with Learning and Skills.
Lifelong Learning Careers: While the field has used Lifelong Learning as a term to describe the continuing role that learning can/should plan in an employee’s life - there has not been a deep conversation about how to make Learning a Lifelong Career. How do we shape the opportunity for educators to work in multiple fields (K-12, University, Workplace) and to bring business colleagues into the learning field with new roles.
Storytelling is Core: I was delighted to see the extent to which Storytelling was on the agendas for discussions about the future of learning and education. Storytelling is evolving - with media, technology and connectivity. Storytelling is a core part of both informal and formal learning. We must look at the “story” from an audience experience point of view - enabling user choices for the how, when, what and style of storytelling is optimal in each situation.
And a Broken Elbow: On the last night of the trip, we were at a restaurant for a Thanksgiving meal and I tripped on a chair - falling and breaking my elbow - just 20 hours before flying home. Off to a nearby Turkish Hospital for Xrays and it turned out that i had broken the top of my elbow. The doctor did an amazing cast for overnight stability - which had to be removed for a safe 14 hour flight home in a sling. Back in NY, I went to NYU hospital for deeper assessment and the good news was that I didn’t need surgery - just time and stretching for the elbow as it healed. Whew!
We look forward to more international trips and conversations in 2024. I will be keynoting an Education Conference in Thailand in July and back to Qatar in November. I learn so much, with fresh perspectives, as we interact with learning, talent,business and HR colleagues around the world.
Yours in Learning,
MASIE Learning Foundation & Collaborative
PS: Just 10 spaces open in the AI & Learning LAB in Saratoga Springs in January - info and registration at http://www.masie.com