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Perry Timms



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Time to zoom in to the future of learning?


I’m known to the readers of HRZone through my column on all things social (media) and so I’m using space to both update my status and also give a little glimpse into the future – something I’m a little bit obsessed with.

The update…

As Director – People & Learning at Media Zoo I’m now part of a creative team of designers, app builders, animators and filmmakers creating new ways for people to learn through the big portal to the world we call digital.  It is a part of my portfolio of roles – something I call a patchwork quilt approach to work rather than a duvet.

The future…

Digital, technology, social media – all things that excite, confuse and divide people in equal measure. Yet within that digital world, I see so much renewable energy. So much hope for better. So many connected forces to restore the value we have somewhat lost in learning.

Predicting the future is everyone’s right and no-one’s rightful claim.  I’m going to have a go, though if only to keep our minds whirring and active, so we don’t miss out on golden opportunities or sleep walk into more of the worst of the current.

Perry's prediction #1

My first prediction is that digital WILL continue to rise. Despite doom merchants predicting the demise of some social networks, a shift in platforms and a withdrawal of people who are trolled, hacked or overwhelmed by what’s online, we will adapt and make good this digital revolution.

OK the technology moves faster than we can all keep up with, but we are in a similar state to previous “ages” and it’s in our genetic makeup to overcome any adversity standing in the way of improvements to our lives and better ways of getting the best outcomes for what we do and who we are.

The famous quote – “the stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones” springs to mind and so it will be that the industrial age won’t have ended because we ran out of industry. It’s just that we found different ways to connect, share and learn.

What economy / age are we headed to?  I’ve heard people proclaim it’s knowledge; creative; collaborative; experience or even sharing. I’ve heard people declare the post-materialistic era is upon us; the upcycle economy will save our planet and that social will become our new force for good. 

Perry's prediction #2

My second prediction therefore is perhaps – just perhaps – we’re headed into the Learning Economy.

Where learning is a value adding force and people’s jobs have inbuilt learning time. Imagine a team member who will only join you IF you can provide hard-wired CPD (Continuing Professional Development) time? 

So much is learning a benefit and a part of the job/role; it’s given pride of place alongside designing and building apps. For a learning professional that’s SURELY nirvana?

Learning our way to managing complex change, unpredictable shifts in need and a constantly iterating world where no version is ever final.

Learning that has a value. Not a deficit. Learning time that is counted as a boost and a performance enhancement. If you’re not learning and applying new thinking, then you’re of less value this month than you were last month.

A shareholder report that shows how much you’ve earned because you’ve learned. Surely we’re only an algorithm away from this being a simple thing to acquire?

Having read and researched many companies who are outliers, high performers, exponential growers and soulful places to work on a higher purpose – they all learn LIKE MAD. It’s not like boards just look at reports – they share what they’ve learned. People work in pairs so they can share what they’ve learned and learn whilst doing.

This isn’t the end of the classroom but it IS the end of the fixation on learning as event-based, time out of work and lost effort.

No more will learning be this adjunct to corporate life – it will power the world of work.

It’s that vision I’d love to help build, be part of and see come to pass – the dawn of the learning economy.

Perry's prediction #3

And so my third prediction: the miniaturisation of everything. Again I’m not the first to talk about this and not in learning certainly but we are in a world where time is one of our most scarce and valuable commodities.  Because of that things have had to become more fluid, adaptable and can be wrapped around things not boxed up and rigid.

So learning is being minaturised to fit into the slots and crevices of our lives. It has to be. We have become so tuned in, so available and so choosy about our time that we are no longer scheduling ourselves in chunks.  Except for work meetings of course – but they’re coming under increased scrutiny for efficiency.

As learning has become minaturised so the essence of the learner experience in design has become crucial. No longer thinking “how do we keep them for 45 minutes in front of a screen and test them?” we’re now thinking “who are my learners?" "what do they need?" and "how can I present the best possible learning experience in the sweetest and swiftest possible manner?"

We're also asking: "how can I be creative in my design and help them achieve their learning goals?”

It’s that mentality that culminates in short, elegant, engaging learning on-screen. Like the development of apps, taking learning as a journey through which a learner is taken on adventure to stimulate the retention of knowledge and the a-ha moments of realisation. Not getting immersed in click through rigid linear processes.

Films that move. Games that intrigue. Wisdom that inspires.

All in miniature form. To fit around and into the learners’ time and attention span to create a maximum impact experience in as short a duration as possible.

And multiplied time and again. TED talks knew what they were doing with 18 minutes impresario performances.

Learning is about to get a lot more impactful in a whole less time.

Zooming in on what matters. When it matters. To make learning matter.

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