Update: I realise you need more than the slides to get this year's battle topics. So here is how to replay your own battle of the bloggers.
- Warm up : In December 2012 (according to the calendar of the Mayas) the world will end. How will learning/teaching/tools/training be different between now and when the world ends? Look around what lives in research, what vendors are vending, the trends of learning land, etc.
- Round 1 : About the brain. There has been a lot of talk about the brain and learning this year. We still don't know much about the brain. The rest of the body is easy: that's just mechanics really. But there is so little we know about the working of the gray matter. The picture on slide 9 is taken from an art exhibition. It's a new ultra portable device that scans for brain activity. Based on what part of the brain is active, metal plates on the ceiling make noise. The press article mentionned potential application in the field of e-learning: you can tell when a learner is distracted and respond to that in the e-learning course. Mmmm. Scary thought. "Mr Stevens, I don't know what you are thinking right know, but I know it's not mathematics."... At the one hand there are books such as 'brain rules' that provide practical tips for learning based on brain research. At the other hand, it's not because we know how two neurons communicate in the brain, that we can sensibly make any extrapolation on complex processes such as learning. What if anything can we use from brain science to make learning better?
- Round 2 : The picture on slide 12 is one of 'the oldest profession'. But that is not correct. If you ask me, our profession is the oldest. And with 1/60 Americans in the education business, I'd argue we are not only the oldest, but also biggest profession of them all. But we don't seem to agree on anything. At the one hand we celebrate 50 years of Kirkpatrick's 4 level learning assessment, but at the other hand you'll find a lot of reasons why that model is crap. There seem to be so many urban legends in learning: left/right brain, you remember 50% of what you smell, learning styles, etc. Is there a common language in learning? Do we agree on anything or are we all working in our little corners? Having common understanding and common language can lead to scale and scope effects and make our profession stand out more and more productive. At the other hand, a highly fragmented and unregulated profession that doesn't have a common language or understanding has more diversity. Or maybe we should keep using models even when they are crap, just because these half lies are the only thing that keeps our profession together. What do you think about the common language of the learning profession? Whe hold these truths to be self evident...
- Round 3: The picture on slide 15 is 'a fool with a tool'. Don't you find it strange? People will always tell you 'it's not the tool, it's what you do with it', and then go into a 1 hour discussion on specific features of specific tools. What's with that? The observation here is on the top 100 most used e-learning tools as traced by the Queen of e-learning tools, Jane Hart. Only one of them, on place 14, is a pure and hardcore learning tool. It's moodle. All the others are tools that at the best have learning as some by-product. Should we have more dedicated tools for proper learning? Or should we move more into the direction of finding learning uses in everyday tools? If we go for the latter, what with all the research funding and corporate R&D on the many learning tools, not to mention the dear old LMS?
- Round 4: This round in short is about the central question: will we have more success with instructionally sound or with contextually relevant learning? Instructionally sound is good content, with proper pedagogical models behind, and proven impact. It's the learning we would all like to develop and diffuse. It's the learning that gets awards. Contextually relevant learning is good enough learning but at the exact moment of need. The world moves at hyperspeed. Is there still time to create pedagogically sound material? Do monkeys run the show instead of professionals?
- Round 5: The wall. It has been 20 years since the Berlin wall came down. In our field, there are many walls. There are walls between the education and the corporate training world. There are walls between individual institutions in the education chain, as there are walls between the corporate divisional kingdoms that have their own learning organisation. There are walls between learning and the other functions of talent management and HR. There are walls between related (or equal?) fields as knowledge management and training. You can do two things with walls: keep (or enforce) them or demolish them. It's very popular to bring down walls, certainly in a world that is increasingly interconnected. Breaking walls in our field means open standards, open content, an education chain, learning integrated in the work, etc. But maybe some walls are there to protect us? What if you are not an English speaking culture, should you have walls to protect you against the flood of the wisdom of English speaking crowd? What if the walls keep us together instead of spreading us out in all directions? What if they keep out evil or ensure you can charge for your service instead of drowning in the all-for-free world? In short, this round is about walls, and which walls to keep, and which to destroy.