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Jane Hart, Independent speaker, writer and social collaboration consultant
How did you get into a career in elearning?
It was in the early 1990s, when I was a Senior Lecturer at a university in London, that I first encountered the Web. In fact, I set up the first web-based course in my university in about 1994 to put into practice my ideas about offering education online. I then went on to talk to other universities around the country about how to do the same.
But in 1997 I left the university to offer consultancy services to both businesses and education on online learning, and began to work with many organisations – large and small - helping them understand and implement new technologies for learning. In 2000 when the term ‘elearning’ first appeared, I called myself an ELearning Consultant.
But three things have changed my view and approach to organisational learning.
1. It became clear to me that most people’s learning in the workplace takes place outside training or elearning.
2. The growing professional use of social media has meant that individuals and groups are now solving their own performance and learning problems – frequently bypassing L&D and IT to do so.
3. A number of organisations are now using social technologies internally and in the process of transitioning into social businesses.
So some time ago I re-focused my writing, speaking and consultancy work - from how to design or manage elearning to how to support an ongoing approach to continuous learning and performance improvement through working collaboratively, powered by social technologies, in the workflow. Hence I now call myself a Social Collaboration Consultant.
Do you feel there are good opportunities for women working in elearning?
I think women have a lot to offer the profession, and as the field of work is quite broad, there are plenty of opportunities for specialisation.
How are you working to make elearning more effective?
For many the term ‘elearning’ is synonymous with online training courses, and the role of an elearning consultant is seen as one of designing and managing online courses. Although for sure this type of work is not going to disappear, I believe there is going to be a growing need for people to support the continuous learning that takes place in the workflow – powered by social technologies. However, supporting collaborative working and learning practices requires more than just blending “social” into elearning; it needs a different mindset and skills set. You can’t really train someone to be social, you can only model the new social behaviours required. Hence my recent work has involved writing and speaking internationally about this change in approach, as well as working with a number of organisations helping them with social collaboration. Here’s my latest whitepaper, The Social Learning Revolution: bit.ly/slrwp – if you want to find out more.
If you could give eLN members one elearning tip, what would it be?
eLearning is not the solution to every performance problem; there may be better ways of solving a problem. It’s not always about designing a solution for people and managing their use of the solution, but helping people identify and organise their own solution to a problem, and then supporting them as they do so. Think: from “Command and Control” to “Encourage and Engage” or even better “Connect and Collaborate”.
You can tweet Jane via @C4LPT (https://twitter.com/#!/C4LPT) .