Thursday, December 03, 2009

You could have knocked me over with a feather!

So there I was in this pre-conference workshop at Online Educa. I wasn't the oldest person in the room, but I was certainly helping to raise the average age.

We were talking about how to meet the learning needs of an increasingly digitally literate workforce. One woman expressed the view that our generation wasn't going to be able to achieve this. That we would have to leave it to the next generation. She also seemed to feel that it would have to wait until things had slowed down a bit, so that L&D could catch up.

She wasn't talking to me. She was talking to the panel and I was not a member, but I felt compelled to answer. No doubt this was both poor conference etiquette and poor manners, but I couldn't hold my tongue.

I asked how she thought the next generation would have it any easier, since they will in their turn be followed by younger people who are more comfortable using technologies that have yet to be invented. She was confident that their current literacy would enable them to make the shift. I'm not so sure. Every generation - in fact, I don't even want to use the word 'generation' since it implies a bigger timeframe than is the reality in my experience - will see the tools with which they are familiar rendered obsolete by new inventions. We don't know what hasn't been invented yet and it may be as different from web 2.0 (and 3.0 and 4.0) as 2.0 is from 1.0. We don't know that it will be any easier for our kids to learn the future technologies than it has been for us to learn these ones.

I am also pretty certain that the rate of progress and change is not going to slow down. In fact, I suspect quite the opposite will be the case.

I find it odd that, surrounded by people whose mothers may well be my age, I am often the most 'radical' person - or at least one of the most radical people - in the room.

How can this be the case? Perhaps I am the one who is deluded.

Time will tell.