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Has business changed?

May 22nd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I am blogging ‘live’ from the Scil conference at St Gallen. Quite interesting in that the conference is very much geared at the HRD and business world – ‘communities’ I do not venture too far into often. The conference is entitled “The Changing Face of Learning – getting the right balance.” So is learning changing in the business world?

The first speaker up is Erlan Joergensen from Shell. I can’t say much sounds new. His slogan is Ask-Learn-Share. He is very much at pains to say that all learning has to be related to the needs of the business. This seems a step back to me. What he is saying that is new is to integrate – on a business basis – the informal and workplace learning together with formal learning within “global networks”. All courses will have a workplace component.

Certainly Shell do seem to using networking tools – wikis and bookmarks – and have embraced the idea that global networks can link tacit and explicit knowledge through peer assisted problem solving. The wiki, he says, provides the ‘business operational knowledge’ for the whole company. Interesting too, that he calls it “a wikipedia”! Shell are also looking at the use of Second Life.

The wikis are being used to develop communities on different topics with 27000 active users and 2500 new entries in the last month.

OK – time to make my mind up – what do I think? Certainly bringing access to knowledge sharing tools looks impressive. It is not quite clear how such tools and activities are being integrated into the blended courses. That there is a new focus on work based learning – and that supervisors are seen as important in this is not new but does represent a shift of emphasis. However, the relation between individual learning and organisational learning seems unclear. And there are still too many business buzz words for my liking.

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