Inside a lava tube on Hawai'i (Personal collection)

Ashes to ashes

Reda SadkiWriting

L&D is dead.

Pushing us down the blind alley of technological solutionism, the learning technologists have demoted learning to tool selection.

  • Microlearning reduces the obsession with knowledge acquisition from a one-hour video to 60 one-minute videos.
  • Gamification is lipstick on the pig of behaviorism.
  • xAPI and other “X”-buzzwords are just the latest tin con by desperate LMS vendors.
  • Fantasizing that VR or AR will save us perpetuates the persistent confusion between tools and process.

As ‘learning leaders’ we are condemning ourselves to irrelevance by chasing ephemeral fads, investing in empty gimmicks, and embracing bearded gurus spouting non-sense.

  • ‘Learning in the flow of work’ is a successful consultant’s buzz word, but will not help us any more than 70-20-10 did.
  • Leadership ‘development’ remains about pampering a few executives old enough to appreciate cushy hotel and conference rooms.
  • Kirkpatrick died, replaced by a coterie of rabid Kirkpatrick wannabes frothing at the mouth about their new, convoluted learning ‘measurement’ systems, pretending they are now driven by research, in denial that evidence for education in general – and for learning and development in particular – is pathetically weak.

Clutching the pearls of ‘strategic relevance’ to the business supported by pseudo-studies to measure ROI is, at best, a tenuous proposition when every choice in the labyrinth of possibilities leads to the dead end of a cost center in perpetuity.

How could the role of education for the future be limited to providing better tools, in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution or Second Machine Age, in which a range of new technologies are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds?

It is mostly a failure of imagination. That is the only reason to shed a tear.

Image: Inside a lava tube, Kazumura Cave, Pahoa, Hawai’i (Personal collection).