of ICT for learning (Ian Bennet)*
have been invited to offer a practitioner's perspective on the implementation
of ICT strategies to enhance individual and organisational learning. What
I picked up from this conference shows that the business case and justification
for adopting IT is still the same as before: the basics are to determine
the desired outcomes and to create mobility for evaluating measures and
results. Those seem to be as crucial as ever.
One of the issues we address in the beginning when implementing ICT based
strategies are whether the learning is going to be separate, incidental
to strategic policy, whether it can be run independently, conductive, as
stand-alone, or whether it's going to entirely integrate with the organisational
practices and activities. Where it is entirely integrated, for example,
someone may pick up on learning about interview techniques using the intranet,
if some interview is coming up. It is possible that there are also implications,
for instance to determine whether someone has indeed taken that opportunity;
you can trace whether they continually have to replace people. There are
also some implications for the assessment of competences. Of course, learning
can be modified almost as it needs be; the technology helps to determine
skills gaps, to create knowledge maps, to determine what kind of learning
is appropriate, to choose appropriate times of learning, to create an online
record for tracing where people are with their learning and skills.
When I go back to basics, measuring the outcomes, the technology is a very
useful tool for monitoring and mediating. It's possible to create mentoring
sessions, virtual classrooms where somebody is learning remotely. One of
the things that came across in several conference sessions is that it's
still appropriate to offer support during distance learning, and mentoring
is one way we are doing that, creating virtual classrooms.
There's lots of ways of using the technology to create a hybrid scenario
and support people who might otherwise be left to their own devices. You
can manage learning as well both from the organisation's and the individual's
point of view. It's an appropriate way of re-using training material that
has been created; it can of course be updated and amended frequently. One
of the benefits is that it can be rewound and revisited by the learner,
rather than in a passive way sitting and looking at a video or whatever.
It is and should be quite an engaging and involving way of learning. Also,
learning can be steered according to the progress the learner is making.
It is possible to monitor, for instance, how many times people are going
back over a particular topic. The mentor could intervene and offer guidance.
Accreditation is another role that technology has a lot to offer for. It's
possible to set the required standards that you would need to achieve.
It enables a unified approach; it can be coordinated centrally; it means
the adoption of standards is much more prevalent; it can be deployed very
quickly; it certainly can be widespread, also reaching remote people.
IT enhances and encourages collaboration. In this morning's session we
talked about an organisation that had a company-wide intranet, collaborating
globally using IT. There was a lot of communication across the enterprise,
access to more extensive knowledge, better common understanding. So the
options are greater using IT. It is just another means of delivering learning;
it allows the creation of an appropriate way of learning. It's easy to
use, but again should be encouraged so that people feel inclined to take
it up; it should encourage the inclination to learn continually.
One of the things that came across in presentations is that motivation
is on top of the list of people choosing to adopt this or not. They do
need to be motivated and encouraged, and they need to be supported while
they are conducting it. Also, it is a digital medium, it can be and should
be interactive. There's a lot more scope in using ICT than the traditional
methods; so it definitely has a role to play.
Group, Harrogate, UK
of the presentation made at the final session (plenary round table) of
the HRD conference in Toulouse, May 2003 (see proceedings).