I don't know if I've ever thought about the relevance of my job. I guess I've always just assumed that it is relevant because one of the primary functions of my role is needs analysis. The fact that I analyse learning needs and then set about finding ways to meet them implies relevance. So my curiosity was piqued when I came across this post from Harold.
The topic of the flatness of the world comes up from time to time and Harold refers to it in this post as "lumpy". I think the word "mountainous" more appropriate. There are still places where learners have to make do without electricity, let alone the www. From their perspective, it must be vertical! But that's not really the issue.
My attention was assured when I read these words:
"The challenge for learning professionals will be to change their toolsets from prescriptive to supportive."and then:
I really do not believe that formal approaches, like instructional systems design, will be able to help these learning needs.More and more, lately, I've been finding that my thinking about learning solutions looks like knowledge solutions. I have been a learning professional for nigh on 20 years now, and have always believed in what I've done. For most of those years, I tried to keep my content honed and neatly structured and packaged. Recently I have felt the need for a little more "mess". In the years (and years and years) that I ran MS Access (other database software is available :-)) courses for beginners, I taught my learners that the records in the database were like a huge black bin bag of data. They could be entered in any order and to varying degrees of completeness. That was not the issue. What was the issue was the manner in which the data was interrogated. A variety of users could draw untold wealths of useful information from that one black sack by virtue of appropriate interrogation, and that was the bit that really needed to work well.
I'm seeing learning a lot like that these days. There's this huge (untidy) quantity of information available. My job is increasingly to make sure that it's in a place where people can get at it, and then to create/provide a variety of safe and useful ways for the learner to access it and draw benefit from it. So, yes, I guess I see my role as having become more supportive than prescriptive.