The Internet Time Alliance principals have made predictions for2013. Charles Jennings offers this picture for the year:

A confluence of technology and improved connectivity, increasing pressures for rapid solutions and better customer service, and demands for higher performance, will force the hands of many HRDs and CLOs to refocus from models of ‘extended formal training’ to place technology-enabled, workplace-focused and leader-led development approaches at the core of their provision.

Clark Quinn predicts that “…we’ll see more examples of the notion of a ‘performance ecosystem’ of resources aligned around individual needs and responsibilities, instead of organized around the providing silos.” While he expects greater use of mobile devices to support individual needs and responsibilities, he thinks many organizations will fail to use these methods effectively.

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Harold Jarche reminds us that “…work is learning and learning is the work in the network era…” However, he also believes that most organizations will continue to deliver formal courses and instructor-led training programs.

Jane Hart says that no matter what IT and T&D departments continue to do, individuals and teams will find ways to bypass these units and use technology to access what they need when they need it.

Jay Cross, similar to Jarche, argues that because of the speed and complexity of change, “Learning will continue to converge with work. Increasingly, workers will learn their jobs by doing their jobs.” He believes that “smart companies” will recognize the need for a management style that supports this kind of learning.

This group of thought-leaders seems to envision a world that is making strides away from classroom-based, formal learning and towards informal, social, mobile learning. My prediction is that 2013 will be a time of sorting out instructional delivery methods, with mobile devices taking center stage. But I don’t think there will be much overall gain in support of learning. The economic and legal pressures on organizations, perceived and imagined, will prevent most from adapting to the technological, social, and demographic changes that are going on around them.

To make learners accountable for their own learning, to push down responsibility for learning to customer-facing employees and project teams, and to engage workers in continuous performance improvement, means admitting that the way managers have been doing things might not be best for employees and it means giving up centralized control. This is difficult stuff for CEOs and other managers to accept.

So, while I hope the ITA prognosticators are right (Full disclosure: I have co-founded a business to support individual, team, whole organization, and community learning.), I’m afraid that 2013 is not going to be a year of substantive change in our organizations. Executives will talk a good game, and may even look like they are adapting to the new reality, but when faced with a choice most will opt for the familiar and safe path. 

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