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Live blog: Clive Shepherd on the changing skill set of the learning professional

Clive Shepherd has extensive experience in blended learning and calls his approach “More than blended learning“. He is currently diving into the areas of the skill that learning professionals need in the blended era.

Technologies changes learning. We can now have a more continuous learning process because of learning technologies. Clive personally has experienced a continuous retreat of focus on technologies- it now comes at the end of the design journey. Technology doesn’t make an effective learning experience. A good design does.

The problems of the skill set

The commonality of the learning professionals of today: the problems of the skill set. (possibly excluding the people in the room who are into learning technologies). What skills are we talking about?

  • Practical, physical skills. Playing the violin or golf
  • Social skills: being able to relate to people etc. “he’s brilliant at selling”
  • Thinking skills: designing a learning program, anticipating risks.

Changing the skill set takes time. The change to the new skill set makes people feels stressed.

What’s changing? 

  1. From organizing events to facilitating/managing processes. In facilitating learning processes time becomes much more fragmented than when organizing events.
  2. From face-to-face to online. You need knowledge about technologies to work online. A new field for many learning professionals.
  3. From dependency to empowerment. What we always wished for is starting to happen. Yet, it makes us feel uncomfortable. Everybody can look up everything online, we all have smartphones and other devices. People no longer accept what we say. The power of relationship has changed.
  4. From same-time to over-time. Think of facilitating a MOOC, you allow for a little bit of time every day.

However, the essential skills of the learning professional continue to be human skills. The teacher – student relationship remain important – though the teacher can be your neighbour or colleague and not always has to be the trainer.

The three essential skill areas for learning professionals

Three essential skill areas are: Interacting with stakeholders, interact with learning, interact with media.  (see graph)

About stakeholders: How do learning professionals behave when interacting with stakeholders? In many cases they behave like a salesperson- like order-takers rather than consultants. You have to build your credibility to act as a consultant. About media: Mind you: Media –  is not dehumanized. When you interact with a book you are not  interacting with a tree, but with the author. Equally, when interacting with media you are interacting with humans.

These three essential skill areas leads to new roles like architect, evaluator, analyst, instructor, expert, coach, facilitation, designer, journalist, curator.

EVERYbody should be up-to-date with tools and technologies 

In our book ‘learning in times of tweets, apps and likes’ we also write about the changing skill set and new roles for Learning and Development. It is interesting to compare our line of thinking. A difference with Clive is that we focus on different new roles like content curator, community manager, team coach which may or not be executed by a learning professional. These roles may also be fulfilled by professionals or managers. We see learning professional specializing.

Besides this we focus also on learning analytics which I don’t see reflected in Clive’s diagrams. Clive may be even stronger than we stating that everybody needs to invest in knowledge on tools and technologies.