Whatever happened to ‘Edutainment’?

Couple of things that have got me thinking in the last week or two….

  1. A post on the Learning and Skills Group Forum which asked the question of how technology is changing the (workplace) learning paradigm.  Are instructor led training, computer based testing and web based training on their way out?  “Is mobile learning ready to receive the baton” or is there a need for “new instruments”?
  2. A colleague querying what music I was listening to when they spotted me on my commute.  The answer, that my phone does not have music on it only podcasts, seemed to have surprised them.  I looked at the LSG Forum for some learning related podcasts but I could only find an old post from 2010.  As a result, I thought I would throw out on Twitter [400th tweet btw] what learning (or learning technology) podcasts people would recommend:

Whilst this got a RT [thanks @Andrew] and seems to have encouraged some new followers [*waves*] no one actually replied (as yet) with an answer.  Now, if we are going to be serious about the use of technology to appropriately support learning outcomes surely there should be a podcast which helps professionals keep on top of what is happening?  Well, perhaps not.  There are, after all, lots of webinars (not least from the LSG), newsletters (for example from ALT), Brandon Hall events, etc.  Lest we forget the conferences… lots of conferences.

Paradigms for learning tech

Anyway the above two points got me thinking, once again, about the nature of a professional identify in learning technology.  I will not go over old ground here, and there have been some good recent posts from the HE perspective (including this one).  However, there is a key point in that HE-orientated post that I think is the crux of the issue where learning technology falls down in the corporate world (at least based on conversations I have had at CIPD, LSG, etc events):


Now I think most people I have met in corporate L&D are curious about new paradigms.  However, and unlike in HE in many places, hands are tied by corporate red tape to apply this into practical solutions (see my response to E.Masie on this topic).  For example, IT systems will be more risk adverse so you can not encourage wide spread adoption of (say) mobile apps.  I can look at my personal experience for plenty of examples; when working in FE/HE I could see something worth investigating and work it into a program (through discussion with a tutor or instructional designer) immediately, or at least into our own learning tech training, in the corporate environment scale and other issues often work against you.

A greater shift in paradigm would be to look to influence culture first and deliver ‘solutions’, to training needs analysis that we can easily quantify, second.  Again, the obsession with length and tracking, often inflicted by professional certification agencies and governments, does not help but we also need to be far more flexible if we are to recognize the ’70 and 20′.  Let us wear curiosity on our sleeves in L&D, a badge to be proud of and worry about tracking later.  There are, of course, many paradigms that can be enabled by ‘learning’ technology to mix up workplace learning and make it more varied – including virtual reality, virtual classrooms, games, etc.  Let’s aim to entertain, not to just record high smiley sheet scores, but to deliver valuable outcomes.

Podcasts, the ultimate edutainment?

I learn a lot from podcasts.  They also entertain.  They often combine the best of ‘anytime anywhere’ learning with interesting narratives (normally via discussion and other radio techniques) and hosts.  However, we don’t seem to have a stand out example for learning technologists to learn from?

The British Tech Network or the US-based TWIT (The Week In Tech) will cover you for technology topics including Mac, Windows, corporate tech, Google, security, gaming, mobile and web design.  Perhaps the issue is that learning technology crosses over all of these, we use software from a range of areas to produce outputs to solve learning needs.

The lack of a podcast leader for learning technology certainly is not for lack of action in the direct field though.  The Adapt Framework, for example, retrofits functionality familiar from (Flash) web based training interactions into a HTML5 tool.  Now, I’m excited about Adapt and have been attending webinars about it.  Do we need an independent podcast to follow this kind of development free of bias from the developers?  Just look at the money, for example $2000, for independent views of LMS systems!

Now, there are some podcasts (my listening list is here) and I have done some research in the last week or so and added some new things to listen to but I have still not been able to find a news-orientated show to offer a view across the profession(s)/industry.  That said, search for EdTech podcasts (for example in iCatcher my app of choice) and you do go get a lot of results (indeed I have followed EdTechTalk on YouTube for a while) so maybe my ‘holy grail’ is out there but I am missing it.  Perhaps it is just me and other professionals keep up-to-date well enough via their RSS and other feeds?  Certainly across blogs, LinkedIn, etc there are plenty of people doing good ‘curation’ roles for industry news.

Personally though, I would argue that, there seems to be a space for a podcast to cover:

  • learning technology related news
  • panelists’ views (with a mix of K-12/school, FE/HE and workplace)
  • the week ahead (webinars to look out for etc)
  • panelists’ picks (something to try this week)

For example, recent stories that could be covered in ‘news’ would include:

Would love to say I could host such a thing (even though I acknowledge it would be a LOT of work) but I have a terrible voice for radio/podcasting 😉

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader (I.gardner.gb) and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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