Coffee and the Social Muffin. Reflections on the year.

Today it’s one of those occasional reflective and introspective posts, because it’s the 250th blog entry and the last one for the year as i shall be working on The Book over Christmas.

At the start of the blog, in the first week, i wrote a post on the changing habits of consumption, how we live, socialise and learn in different ways these days. Coffee and the Media Muffin (http://wp.me/p1gGpJ-1u). Well, at the end of the year, this feels just as true as it ever was, although the pace of change has accelerated and it’s more sociable than ever before.

I spend a great deal of my time working with different groups across different industries talking about learning, so you soon get a feel for what the common trends. This year has been mobile and social. Everywhere the pressure is towards more e-learning, less face to face, reducing costs and driving down ‘time to competence’. Technology plays a bigger part in all aspects of our lives and mobile has come of age. Tablet devices (or rather the iPad) are mature and permeate every organisation i work with, at least at the executive level, either through formal policy or because everyone just buys one.

But the perils of technology are equally clear: the start of a flurry of poorly designed learning experiences, deployed to mobile and rolled out to a bemused population. People across the country peering at tiny screens trying to read pages of text, losing their signals and cursing the latest thing to waste their time. And, whilst the technology is maturing, it’s moving fast. I must be the only person in the country to have bought a Blackberry Playbook and it’s already redundant and unsupported, which, at £700, stings.

So the worlds is a more mobile place, more time pressured and more social. Social is everything, even though we may not agree what it means. Everyone can see the appeal, even if they don’t know what to do about it. To me, it means community: the great wealth of experience and expertise which is suddenly open to me, and not in an abstract sense, but a very practical and immediate one. This year, the horizons of my community have expanded beyond what i ever imagined. I’ve worked with people across the world, been inspired, challenged and supported by people i’ve never met, except in their digital personas.

This year has been about learning: learning to write a blog, learning more about how people learn, about a methodology for learning, about the technology, about how people in different fields face common challenges, even if they express them in different words.

Next year i want to continue to grow this, with more collaboration, more challenges and more ideas to explore. I find that the blog is my rehearsal space, where i try new ideas out and shape my thoughts through a number of iterations. It’s a very public reflective space.

Next year is also about The Book, which, although embryonic, is taking shape. A book about learning. Whilst the debate may rage about whether the book is dead, this one feels very much alive, although i’m sure it won’t be without it’s challenges and growing pains. I’ve written a hundred thousand word thesis twice before in my life, and both times it took years and wasn’t easy. Nothing particularly makes me think that a book will be easier, but at least it will be in more sociable company than sitting alone in a library.

So this year has been fuelled by coffee and a range of muffins, on a range of continents and in a vast range of good company. And i feel that i’ve barely scratched the surface.

But if we learnt everything this year, there’d be nothing left to keep us busy through the next one.

Happy Christmas!

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About Julian Stodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Blog, Book, Introspection, Learning, Reflection and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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