Training magazine Events: Reframing Possibility

Instead of focusing on how technology can improve our approaches to training, we must explore the relationship between technology and society to reveal the possibilities it can offer to humanity.

By Tony O’Driscoll, Executive Director, Center for Technology, Entertainment and Media, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

To mark the 35th anniversary of the Training Conference & Expo, at Training 2012, our aspiration is a simple but audacious one: to take what we know about what works and what does not in driving human performance and to apply it in a way that allows everyone to achieve their utmost potential.

As we embark on our “Learning Moon-Shot” and begin to look around for clues on where to begin, technology inevitably enters our field of vision. We human beings have been leveraging technology since the dawn of time: Fire to keep us warm; plant and animal domestication to assuage our hunger; icons and alphabets to communicate; locomotives, automobiles, and airplanes to travel greater distances and build a global economy; and—in the last 6,500 days—the Web technologies to connect, consume, contribute, and collaborate on an unprecedented scale.

In virtually every facet of our modern-day digitally mediated lives, we are experiencing advancements in technology that accelerate how we live, work, play, and learn. New breakthroughs become new products or offerings in the blink of an eye, and the market adopts them at rates previously deemed impossible. Technology is permeating every element of our lives at a pace we, collectively, are ill equipped to handle.

While there is much debate as to whether or not the accelerative effects of technology are a blessing or a curse for society, one observation appears to be holding true: We training professionals have not taken sufficient time to ponder the profound impact technology will have on our own work in the service of unleashing the cognitive surplus that lies largely dormant in society today.

To date, we have largely limited our view of technology to focus on how it can accelerate or improve our current approaches to training. At Training 2012, we want to open this aperture and explore the relationship between technology and society at a much broader level to reveal the incredible possibilities it can offer to humanity.

From brain-machine interfaces that literally turn thought into action to electronic tutors that provide personalized support and structure to every child to the powerful multiplier effect for learning that can be derived from social, mobile, and collaborative technologies, our “Realizing Possibility” keynote session is purposefully designed to expose training professionals to the incredible opportunity technology presents to allow each of us to achieve our fullest potential.

As we conceive of a world where quadriplegics walk again, where people can take action just by thinking, where we have the ability to craft clearer explanations when faced with complex and information intensive problems, and where we can tap into the wisdom of the crowd and the Internet to answer questions in real time, there is a tremendous opportunity for us to leverage what we know about what works and what doesn’t to create a step change in human performance.

As we reframe our perspective from trying to apply technology to improve what we have done in the past to improve training to looking at the impact technology is having in society at large and examining how we might influence that trajectory based on what we know about how people learn, we open up a whole new landscape of opportunity that allows us to ply our craft in an incredibly meaningful way.

I hope you will join us at Training 2012, February 13-15 in Atlanta, as, together, we build the bridge to a better future for everyone. Visit today.

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 3-D: Bringing a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration,” explores how emerging Web technologies is transforming the learning landscape within organizations.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.