By Tony O’Driscoll
By the time you finish reading this article, 5 million videos will have been viewed on YouTube; 1.9 million messages will have been shared on Facebook; 400,000 people will have tweeted; 15,200 people will have searched for someone on LinkedIn; 6,250 photos will have been uploaded to Flickr; and 4,000 people will have checked into a location on Foursquare.
Today, we are collectively hurtling into the future at jerk speed in So-Lo-Mo. By “So-Lo-Mo,” I don’t mean “slow motion.” Instead, I am referring to the rapid convergence of Social, Local, and Mobile technologies. The pervasive electronic exoskeleton the Web has woven around our planet over the last 19 years has permeated what we do socially, professionally, and educationally to such an extreme extent that we have become oblivious to the profound changes it has brought to how we connect, communicate, coordinate, collaborate, and take collective action.
Information no longer moves in one direction from top to bottom or from teacher to student. Instead, it has a social life all its own, moving from place to place based on individuals’ desire to interact with it, because they want to make more effective decisions, develop keener insights about a particular topic, or know how to complete a certain task. As this new socio-technical system evolves and expands at an increasingly dizzying rate, information becomes the currency, individuals become the transport mechanism, interaction becomes the transfer mechanism, and collective insight becomes the value-added outcome.
More than one-seventh of the time spent on the worldwide Web is spent on Facebook. By the time we convene in Chicago for Learning 3.0 in late October, this single social network will have welcomed its 1 billionth member. Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg suggests that on his platform, communication should not be viewed as a way for people to get information. Instead, he proposes that, within the social Web, information is actually a mechanism to foster better communication between people.
The Web now has two digital on-ramps: Search and Social. Both are important, and both serve to connect people with each other and with information in increasingly efficient and effective ways. While Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information, it appears that Facebook is more focused on leveraging information to organize better interactions between people.
Whichever on-ramp you choose to take, it is clear that the Web itself is evolving into a pervasive and expanding ecosystem whose central purpose is to facilitate collective action, learning, and growth. As the browser leaves its gawky and awkward teenage years behind, the world is entering the era of autonomous learning. That means the long-held vision of having the right person access the right content at the right time in the right modality on the right platform to accomplish a given task rapidly is becoming a reality.
Trainingmagazine’s Learning 3.0 conference will reveal how important new trends and technologies are creating a digital tide that has the potential to lift every learning boat. More specifically, we’ll explore how a world that is becoming increasingly instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent creates an unprecedented opportunity to provide precise and prescriptive learning at the moment of need. We’ll also examine how the social Web creates a platform that allows us to move beyond time-bound transactional learning events where data is downloaded to an “always-on” sphere of connectivity where people convene, converse, collaborate, and learn from each other in real time. And, finally, we’ll explore how our greatest teachers are leveraging this pervasive and expanding ecosystem to reach a worldwide audience at a scale and price-point that simply could not have been conceived of a decade ago.
If you are looking to create a step change in learning within your own organization, this is a conference you won’t want to miss. I hope you will join us in Chicago October 24-25 to see firsthand how cutting-edge innovators are taking advantage of emerging trends and technologies to take learning to the next level.
Tony O’Driscoll is the Executive Director of the Center for Technology, Entertainment and Media (CTEM) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. His most recent book, “Learning in 3D: Brining a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration,” explores how emerging Web technologies are transforming the learning landscape within organizations.