posted 8 May 2001 in Volume 4 Issue 8
21st century life learning
Exploring the future of e-learning
E-learning is growing rapidly as an industry with current solutions allowing employers to streamline learning needs processes and strategies. With this in mind Paul Buckley presents a scenario exploring the future of learning business and society.
The year is 2049 and the dawn of the Knowledge Age. The E-learning Revolution like the Industrial one three centuries before has changed again the infrastructure of society. The leading e-learning solutions companies have either merged or been forced to fold so that only a few robust organisations such as THINQ still exist. E-learning has been widely adopted by all large enterprises and multi-national organisations. Entire working populations ‘upskill’ continuously over the course of their careers which boosts the quality and professionalism of the global economy. In Britain e-learning has been adopted as standard by education government and business. For knowledge to be used it must be shared and not monopolised. Rewards are for generating learning not for widening the discrepancy between the skilled and unskilled.
E-learning has become free as a result of a number of factors. Back at the start of the millennium in order to stem the skills shortage crisis the British Democratic government adopted Germany’s ‘Dual System’ the synergistic approach to education and business as dual phases of lifelong-learning. The UK government’s policy is to generously fund e-learning solutions as a long-term revamping of Britain’s education and professional skills training. Business too contributes to learning by frenetic sponsorship in a vein unseen just decades ago. The government’s mission is to position the UK as a superpower; as such its competitive advantage will lie in free learning.
Technology has maximised the power and speed of computers with ever more sophisticated chips and the new bandwidth SuperBroadBand. Access to computers has increased too as we see the proliferation of public PC booths especially in deprived areas. These booths are like the former EasyEverything branches a popular but expensive facility at the beginning of the millennium. Private wired or wireless PC or PST ownership sees a huge growth as great as that for television in the last century. They are available now on cars trains and planes and at hotels and hydrogen stations as standard. The trend in business enterprise extension is mirrored in personal technology as mobile phone fax computer printer stereo and TV converge into one.
Costs of phone calls have been driven down to nothing as a by-product of the telecommunications wars. It has long been proven that far greater return is achieved through increased quality and productivity not to mention the time saved through e-learning for instance in time to market. Knowledge gained is in itself business capital; the new currency – and government and business both profit as a result. Terms like human or intellectual capital are still being used but now they are recognised as each individual’s assets and therefore capable in all of us of being developed and nurtured rather like one’s good health and fitness. The generations of e-culture baby boomers have matured and are redefining the possibilities of graphics and animation making synchronous and asynchronous learning as popular as classroom-based learning. Developments in virtual and audio-visual tools from your PST allow increased learning interaction.
On the 102nd floor of the huge three-kilometre diameter structure known as London South lives Bradley Stock. 70 000 others live work shop and socialise there too rarely needing to leave the floor. The space and greenery around London blends into the suburbia of the Home Counties. The next city-in-a-tower will be Manchester. These vertical structures are part of the deep cultural shift towards decreased consumption of fuel in response to governmental drives to slow down global warming. Powerful lifts transport its denizens from floor to floor in a matter of minutes. It takes Bradley ten minutes to get into work and of course no time at all if he is working from home or off work due to his annualised hours. Very little time in the day is spent travelling. His time is better spent on other things.
Being driven in his Audi ee on the magnetic lift intercity link from Manchester which is cheaper than the electricity credits to drive himself Bradley Stock is in the middle of his microbyte learning a two-hour short course on ‘leadership’. Part of the way through he takes a break to order the weekly grocery shopping check out the latest Jake Junior jeans collection and book tickets for La Traviata after seeing a preview.
Bradley is finding the simulations in leadership are good not only because of the acute GVR (Gesture and Voice Recognition) tools which identified at first that he veered from severe lack of confidence in his decisions to being bullish with them hoping people would be more easily managed this way.
Learning about leadership is good because Bradley enjoys it and Bradley enjoys it because it is directly relevant to a task in the new project starting next week. He is reassured that the time spent learning will equip him well next week make his life easier and impress the director. The course has regular reminders of the precepts at the beginning of each stage: Emphasising the corporate future establishing then setting direction and giving vision and inspiration. It also displays a running score.
Now back in his apartment Bradley’s personal evaluation and certification rooms break analyse much and how well he has absorbed the elementary skills in leadership. His pass certificate is added to his portfolio. Bradley then posts his thoughts to the THINQ notice board so it can harness the latent knowledge surrounding each undertaking of the course. The repository of learner’s comments is captured in a database and used to make improvements for the course for others.
Bradley checks his Learning quotient against Work and Leisure and happy that his balance is within the optimum band he then visits his Competency Roadmap. Consistently updating his job description career aspirations and present and forthcoming projects it indicates that a course on ‘innovation’ would give him the edge for next week’s new project. An automatic search on ‘innovation’ brings up all the meta-tagged knowledge objects such as articles market research upcoming seminars and courses. Innovation was a buzzword at the start of the century and though much was written on creativity and how it was the catalyst for change it is only now that the world’s thought leaders can begin to answer the questions behind this ‘gift’. Bradley books himself on the advanced 24-hour course ‘Being Creative and Growing Talent’ created with the South African business guru Dr Jaco Olivier after checking Dr Olivier’s profile experience and expertise and the ratings of the course itself.
Twenty-years ago a very different Bradley Stock had been retained by Her Majesty’s Service paying the price for possession of marijuana in the last year before it was legalised. By day he laboured on city construction sites; by night he collected urban refuse both activities filling the growing gap for unskilled workers. In a controversial initiative championed by THINQ prisoners just as those in deprived areas 30 years before would be ‘e-learned’ into better valued members of society. It was controversial because in this highly skilled society Britain was in danger of out-skilling even menial labourers from their jobs before the licensing of sufficient robots. Prisoners had for some time been used to close this gap. As one of the first generations of convicts to benefit from this government/THINQ project Bradley had completed a comprehensive training programme to align his skills with those of a responsible citizen and a clean energy researcher. Recognising this as a lifeline he had thrown himself into learning and been surprised at how rewarding it was.
The government’s mass and swift up-skilling of the disadvantaged helped to enhance and enrich life for the poor and is now effectively eradicating poverty itself. Talent has been released from those previously oppressed by lifestyle and lack of means to learn. This emanation from previously latent groups such as children is now encouraging genius to flourish earlier and in many more directions than ever before. Learning has become a pursuit of society from schoolchildren to professionals alike. In the 2050s we will be privileged to see what will turn into the second coming of British inventors artists and entrepreneurs since the Renaissance.
Now as a dedicated clean energy researcher at NewClear Bradley’s goal is to manage the huge energy demands which are occurring as the remnants of the industrial age mainly the filtered coal gas and nuclear power plants are converted to hydrogen solar or wind.
NewClear’s objectives are to maximise clean fuel efficiency to meet accelerated demand. Passionate about solving spiralling problems such as over-population and global warming he is determined to learn as much as possible about the Dutch approach to recycled energy. The Dutch are the world leaders in this market. Surprisingly to Bradley’s father Dutch energy courses are in Dutch; he muttered something about the net being all English in his day. To Bradley the internet breeds diversity and anyone from any of the world’s cultures can contribute share their ideas and take away new concepts. The nature of the net is that it is incredibly fast and adaptive making qualities like personalisation so natural and encouraging flexibility of style language and content.
Bradley’s 40-hour Dutch language course provides him with virtual real-life experiences using sophisticated animation AV and GVR (Gesture and Voice Recognition) tools. Roleplay scenarios can include finding one’s way to the rail station checking times and buying tickets. One is required to interact with Dutch characters who hold the same beliefs tradition and mannerisms as real Dutch people. The course will continue down the path one carves out until either one achieves the objective or one bails out and overrides it. Bradley can already speak basic Dutch and is rapidly grasping the essential business terms. The course has already given Bradley a feel not just for the language including colloquial language spoken in a whole raft of relevant situations but of the culture and any prejudices too.
Bradley believes this will be essential to his understanding of the Dutch superior progress in clean energy when he visits their Energy Convention in Amsterdam next month. Bradley is not one who would ordinarily waste fuel and time flying to a conference. It is much more environmentally friendly cheaper and thorough to attend conferences online a medium that also allows every single seminar to be experienced without having to choose between concurrent ones. Online conferences supply one with notes at one’s fingertips – and not in a heavy case at the end of one’s arm. In this instance however Bradley’s trip is also not only an excuse to take his partner away for a week. He has been elected to help his director contribute to a THINQ course on clean energy. Newclear’s expertise library containing all the articles diagrams databases and reports of Bradley and his colleagues has evolved into a formidable wealth of knowledge.
It is 22:00 and as he expects he receives a punctual call from his partner. He takes the wireless headphones off his head as he is sitting at the PST anyway. Just out from her neoyoga class Lara’s glowing face flashes up on screen and her voice projects from the speakers. Five minutes later Bradley aims his handheld PST through the kitchen doorway to set the kettle to boil chooses a Lee Morgan CD adjusts the treble and muses on the best way in his lifetime he can help educate and lead people to save themselves and their planet.
Paul Buckley is managing director of THINQ. He can be contacted at: email@example.com