The algorithm as your learning mentor

LinkedIn are using massive amounts of data on people to offer tailored learning courses and resources. Learning could be breaking out of the organisation. Can an algorithm produce your development plan?

Big data is powerful. Uber can see where the most popular routes are and at what time and raise fares accordingly. Netflix and Amazon know what you want to watch before you do. Facebook and Twitter can gauge the mood of a nation. Google can tell which countries are getting the flu.

LinkedIn has become our online CV. A place to share with the world what we’re doing in our work lives. Get endorsed by people you have worked with and get searched for by recruitment consultants looking to fill their next role. LinkedIn purchased the popular learning organisation Lynda recently. If you’ve never used it, Lynda is a site that pulls together video learning tutorials on workplace skills.

A huge amount of learning content from Lynda and everyone’s online CV, powerfully this means that LinkedIn can push learning content that is tailored for the individual. Spotify tells you what band you might like based on your constant looping of your favourite songs. LinkedIn now tailor the courses to make you better at your job, or work towards your next role. The big data doesn’t stop there, soon LinkedIn will know which courses the most ‘successful’ people have taken along with reviews and ratings for each course. The courses aren’t just stand alone, want to become a manager? There’s a pathway for you.

There are lots of opportunities to learn online for free. Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) are big news in universities and online. Add in the opportunity to complete a variety of courses and post them to your online CV in the way of badges. Google have their own digital accreditation. Universities all over the world are offering small courses in a variety of subjects using FutureLearn and this could be an opportunity for universities to widen participation and appeal beyond the 3 year degree on campus.

Turning our careers into social media events has of course the good and the bad. Sharing achievements, insight and good news is good but when it takes over and you’re doing a course just to put it on LinkedIn to show off could be negative. Could ambition to gain that one more badge producers gamers of the system? Is that a bad thing? Or just making learning a bit more carrot than stick than a real desire and interest to learn. Providing prospective employers with examples of work, achievement and learning must be a positive. 2 sides of an A4 Word document  CV and a 30 minute interview restricts us somewhat in what we can showcase. This can move us towards the portfolio for all.

The gig economy makes this all the more relevant. When more of us are freelancing or changing jobs regularly we need our own place to store everything. Having all of our learning stored in a corporate learning management system isn’t much good if you’re changing jobs every 2 or 3 years.

From a learning perspective the content can feel a little passive in that they are a series of animated or talking head videos. Many do offer working exercises and documents but little true interaction. Many MOOCs do include ‘collaboration’ where learners share ideas and this is facilitated by educators. The one thing that does appear to be missing in the solution is the feedback loop, getting feedback on putting your skills into practice and getting some pointers on what you’re doing – experiential learning. You might know lots about how to be a manager but are you a manager? Using Bloom’s taxonomy, do we get to create and apply rather than just understand and remember? The next step could be mentors who guide people through courses offering feedback. Many parents pay for their children to be tutored outside of the school, parents could go the same way. Skype and Google hangouts provide an ideal way to do this. You can upload a video of your golf swing for analysis or use an automated app to get rid of those yips. Sports psychology guru Timothy Gallwey used a window reflection to show a golfer how their swing was not quite right.

If workplace learners are asked to take ownership of their own learning maybe now they can take it outside of the corporate or university network.

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