As I am getting more into the 'AI helps people to be trained in a personalized way'-project (officially called the skills3.0 project, slides here), I am starting to feel uncomfortable with some of the ideas that emerge and resonate with false assumptions found 20 years ago:
- the old elearning assumption: if you build it, people will come (they did not, at best you need to market it ferociously in order to attract some worldwide learners - confer MOOCs). But when looking at the numbers and the degrees, it is still rather weak in terms of successful tailored learning resulting in professional learning enhancement. In most cases, MOOCs cover the basics, not the advanced side of professional topics.
- another one: having to transform instructors (defined as sage-on-the-stage) to guides-on-the-side (something which is repeated by Norris Krueger in his blog article 'from instructor to educator' with a focus on entrepreneurial education). This idea of guide on the side stems from 1981, which means in the last 38 years we haven't managed to get there... this does show it is hard to expand people to embrace a different approach to learning. For in my opinion the best teachers have always been guides-on-the-side, they inspire their students and lift them to their own next level.
- The debilitation of pedagogy: I cannot get around this tendency to oversimplify learning, and almost dismiss the proven, evidence-based pedagogy we - the learning researchers - established over the last 30 years. For years fellow researchers in online learning were testing, investigating, reiterating learning options, to see what worked best. And as soon as the market took over, all is reduced to .... classic courses, with one speaker who delivers knowledge but barely listens, clearly a sage-on-the-stage model (MOOCs) and all of us learners discussing and sharing knowledge with each other in the discussion areas in order to tailor what was said to our own situations (social learning, which actually happens in face-to-face courses as well). The only thing that is added to the sage-on-the-stage in most of the MOOC cases is 'fancy video' and a 'new type of Learning Management System' (cfr. Coursera, FutureLearn, EdX... they are basically LMS's with some extra's). Yes, some people learn from the hole in the wall, some do, but most of us don't. So why do learning data scientist and innovators in their new learning tools think that all of humanity will start to learn simply because they say: here it is, this will get you in a better career position. And even if this would be the case, please tell me who would have these actual magic courses, for who can build courses at the speed of the emerging, changing industry? And if we build them, who will be waiting, filled with anticipation and willingness to follow these courses?
I feel frustrated that learning is again be seen as simply a thing that all of us do, and for industry-related reasons. Honestly, I think most of us learn informally (proven!) and if we learn for professional reasons we need to be able to spend time on it (HR enabling time), and if we were to be allocated time to learn, it should be allocated in terms of our own capacity for learning, based on our own background in learning (using a holistic approach to pedagogies).
In order to move forward with the Skills3.0 project, there are several elements that need to come together and make sense in order to scale the project as well. These elements are:
- Using AI to filter out industry needs (which means you look at all the reports from industry, and analyse which new concepts arise from these reports to predict where the industry is going)
- Using AI to analyse which true experiences (and related competencies and skills) a person has: based on LinkedIn profiles, current CV's...
- Finding the skills gap between both previous steps: getting to know what people might be missing in order for them to answer to upcoming industry needs,
- And finally pointing them to training/courses/workshops that might push them to be better for the future jobs.
The project is taking off (see movie at the end, to see where we are at, I look a bit tired in it, or maybe simply older).
The last step is underestimated by most of the non-educational people. At present learning cannot be put into simple formula's, it is the complexity of life itself, it is why everything evolves in the long and in the short term, including us humans.
All of the above steps of the Skills3.0 project are laudable. If this works, it has a broader societal meaning, you can even say it provides a way to direct people to a more fulfilling professional life. But... that feels like a Utopian emotion following new innovations. We can see how providing guidance to courses that will help each one of us to perform better, to enhance our careers, to find new professional challenges, ... is a good thing. The only problem is, that humans are also bound to their own learning characteristics (e.g. Big five personality traits, or more academically the learner characteristics guiding their own self-directed learning).
Simply providing courses might not be enough, we need coaching, workshops, orientational sessions which depict which types of learning will benefit you most (e.g. if we look for data science courses online, which ones are useful to each of us individually? that will depend on what we know, where we want to use them for, and how we learn (for me, numbers are a challenge)).
Whether we say learners must self-direct, or self-regulate or self-determine their learning, inevitably this means we are talking about learners that are willing to learn, and are capable of learning. Indeed, in the near future we will ask learners to learn at a speed that is ever increasing, meaning you need to be a really good learner to keep up with your own changing field. Can we do this? And if we can, how does it work?
Short video on the Skills3.0 project recorded during the WindEurope conference in Bilbao. Which will lead to 'building the workforce':