When David Kelly asked me to participate in this so-called “meme” session, I laughed. I have three kids and a full-time job. I don’t spend any time on Reddit or 4-Chan. I hardly even know what a meme is. And then I thought, I can be that badass.
So before I could even start working on my presentation, I of course, needed to do a little bit of research. I needed to get my head around the cultural implications of memes. I read and I explored and I looked at a lot of silly pictures with captions. But first, let’s thank Richard Dawkins for the term meme.
Richard Dawkins came up with the term in 1976 He was a smart biologist thinking in terms of EVOLUTION. A meme is…”a snippet of human culture that could survive for centuries.” Think “To be or not to be…” or “read my lips” – catchphrases that stick and that we learn from in profound ways.
Like an organism, these memes replicate and evolve as they pass through society.
From LOLCATZ to the Harlem Shake, some would say that the Internet memes we’re used to these days aren’t that sophisticated. They simply don’t transmit snippets of human culture.
They claim there is NO big idea. They’re funny, yes. But critics argue that Internet memes only transmit the banal and the mundane.
And yet others celebrate the Internet meme as a hallmark of visual play, deep engagement, and meaningful connection that transcends the boring humdrum of daily living in a first world country.
They say that Internet memes help us see the mundane in new ways, transforming the familiar and seemingly trivial in novel, sometimes startling ways.
e-Learning, some could argue, has gone through the same evolution. When people first started using technology to support learning, it held so much promise, with a chance to transform corporate learning and education as a whole.
We saw that eLearning could be really deep stuff, with huge cultural implications. Evolutionary, really.
But along the way, eLearning has spiraled down, down, down into the land of the mediocre.
Boring drivel on computer screens everywhere, created by the CBT lady –that hairnetted Computer Based Training Lady who thoughtlessly serves up eLearning slop to you on your lunch tray every day.
Sadly, eLearning has become…mundane. And something to be truly mocked.
So what does the future of eLearning look like?
Are we creating something that will have long lasting and deep cultural significance or more banal drivel?
Perhaps a little bit of both, right? So here’s what I aspire to for all of us as a future in e-Learning.
I see a future in which e-Learning doesn’t suck.
Because designers will have been armed with skills and knowledge and have learned to recognize that humanity cares deeply about learning and doesn’t want to simply suffer under the horror of bad e-learning.
I see a future where we stop using labels like e-learning or m-learning or wearable-learning. Where instead, we just call it “learning” and see that technology is an inevitable and natural part of what we do and how we do it.
I see a future where one course does not rule them all. We will transcend the pre-fix and we’ll make sure the focus is on helping people do the stuff they need to do their jobs – and live their lives – really well.
In the future, we’ll talk about the Dimensions of Learning – the conditions under which we learn. Think Use Cases.
Instead of leading with the technology, we’ll start with what people need to do: get some info, gain some awareness, troubleshoot, problem solve, learn a new skill, change behavior.
And then we’ll get them the tools, the knowledge, the information, and the practice opportunities to learn what they need or help them create what they need so they can solve the problems they’re trying to solve.
Isn’t that world we already live in?
My kids learn from their computers and ipads every single day and they just call it “playing” or “doing their homework” or “figuring out how to do stuff.”
They don’t call it e-learning. They call it living.
I see a future where learning professionals will be seasoned mixologists, serving up the right learning cocktails for the individual needs.
Where we pull from a complete and complex mix of tools, some technology based and some not, to help people find the ways to access the information they need, and learn and practice the skills they need to learn to perform at their best, and truly make the world a better place.
In fact, the individual will become his or her own learning mixologist, assessing at all the ingredients out there and pulling down just the right ones to create the perfect concoction to best solve their problem…
I see a future where the role of the L&D professional and the business is to ensure the ingredients are fresh and sound…not spoiled with an out of date shelf life…and that we’re teaching people HOW to learn and find what they need.
We will DEFINITELY NOT be limited by the technology, but instead see it as a universe of opportunity.
I see a future where elearning won’t be mocked.
And while there will still be PPTs with text bullets floating around – that will be just fine. Because sometimes a good PowerPoint deck is really all Ryan Gosling needs.
In the future, and together, we will make sure that eLearning is not just a banal, mundane and lifeless meme that is forgotten over time.
But instead we will work together to ensure e-Learning transcends and evolves.
Starting today, and going on into the future, let’s make sure that elearning transmits deeper cultural meaning. And lasts across centuries to add to human creativity and endeavor.
Let’s be a bunch of badasses. eLearning and technology have changed the world. Let’s change it together in all the right ways.
I don’t always create memes but when I do there’s a duck involved.
Ignite! Meme-ing the Innovative World of Learning
This will go up during your
introduction and does not count
towards your 20 slides and 5 minutes
CAMMY BEAN HAS BEEN DOING
E-LEARNING FOR 18 YEARS
STILL SEES A FUTURE IN IT