Whose job is it anyway?

Photo Credit: baob555555 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: baob555555 via Compfight cc

This post follows the #ldinsight chat from the 6 March 2015.

The chat ebbed and flowed as the best ones do and I was prompted to post the following:

My respected PLN member and friend Con Sotidis in Australia disagreed:

I couldn’t respond in 140 characters and this blog post is my random thoughts around it- Con’s thoughts are here.

Aside from being  a butcher, another previous job I’ve held was in a retail bank.  One of my first tasks there was data entry, taking information from name and address cards and putting them onto a computer.  The address cards were from new account openings; A6 size yellow cards with terms and conditions on the back and space on the front for the names, 2 lines of address including the post town and space for the postcode.

If the full postcode wasn’t entered, I had volumes of blue paperback manuals that provided me with postcodes for Greater London, Essex, and Hertfordshire. If the person lived outside these locations, I’d have to ring the local branch and ask someone to do a postcode check in their blue paperback books. This was to ensure it was accurately entered on the computer. The computer in question had a keyboard, a green text on black crt screen and a printer the size of a baby hippo. The computing bit was in a server the size of your average common or garden shed.

I recently opened a new savings account with my bank and it was done in 3 minutes, online, at home, in the evening. My Mum also opened an account recently. She took a bus and travelled into town on an agreed date and time to open the account with a customer advisor face to face. The cost to the bank to open my online account is fractions of a penny. The cost to the bank branch to do the same for my mother would run up to £100.

28 years after working for the bank and I’m writing this blog post on a tablet device on a train. Technology has moved on – ask a bank clerk to open an account now and they’d likely baulk at the prospect of using a paper card to record a person’s details to be entered onto a database later.

Online transactions are the next iteration of banks simplifying their transactional activity. Before online we had phone, and before that ATMs. Transactions can be carried out via ATMs much more cost effectively; they’re simply channels for trading a couple of pieces of information, (an account number and PIN) for cash. However, as ATMs became ubiquitous and accepted across society, their use has become more limited; so much financial activity can be done online it’s almost possible to live a cashless life.

As life has become more transactional, it feels like learning has followed. When I started work at the bank I attended a 5 day induction course to learn the values, attitudes and some of the skills to work in the organisation. Now there’d be online elearning elements – highly transactional and compliance based. Making learning transactional means it is easier to scale – to that end we have been, and are still, designing the most effective delivery mechanisms.

This is why we don’t need to focus on elearning design as the new L&D skill development. We’ve been through decades where we’d ask a L&D manager to design a learning intervention and they’d reach reach for the PowerPoint template.

If we create a culture where elearning design is expected, what’s to stop that same manager reaching for the elearning design tool?

I think the new skills are more complex than that. Have a look at Kandy Woodfield‘s session from Learning Technologies in January. L&D managers need to develop support and oversight; the mechanics don’t really matter. L&D needs to understand design from a user perspective, not a technical one. Having the ability to design more technically complex delivery mechanisms isn’t the missing skill – that’d be like designing more sophisticated ATMs.

And what will ATM designers do when we’re all living cashless lives and using our NFC enabled phones to pay?

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