Scott McLeod, of the Univ of Minnesota, recently reworrked and posted a version of a presentation that Karl Fisch created called "Did You Know?". It's really quite good on several different levels (globalization, learning, change, the future) and is worth a view (~6 mins).
Several of the themes resonated especially loudly for me, being an eLearning specialist working for an Indian firm, as well as being the (proud) father of a six year old boy. The world we are living within TODAY is amazing and changing incredibly fast, but it all (may) look like "the good old days" to my son in the same way that today's workforce reflects upon how things were, not in the 1930's, but in the 1830's (or maybe the 1730's!).
The current day statistics and facts he cites are pretty amazing (or scary, depending on your risk profile and comfort with change). And although it's always dangerous business predicting the future (as witnessed by Charles Duell's prediction, as Commissioner of US Patent Office in 1899, that "Everything that can be invented has been invented."), even if only a portion of the forecasts in the latter portion of the presentation are just partially true, we STILL will be in for a wild ride...
(It seems like some of those predictions may have been based on Ray Kurzweil's research on "The Singularity", and how exponential change is powerful but subtle before you hit the "knee of the curve", where change becomes noticable (which is where he claims we all sit currently). He says that we'll experience a century's worth of progress in the next 25 calendar years, and 20,000 years of progress(!) in the next 100 calendar years. Hold on tight...)
So what's the relation to Learning and Development? The scent of it abounds, even if it's not explicitly stated. We must prepare to live/survive/excel in a world that will be changing more rapidly than ever. And in a world of change, it is the person who has learned how to learn who will have the advantage. We need to stop focusing on teaching fact/figures/answers, and begin to embrace the ability to analyze/sythesize/adapt. Good teaching and learning strategies will be at the core of success tomorrow, regardless of the details of what that vista ends up looking like.
In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.
-- Eric Hoffer
(UPDATE: June 25, 2007)
Since Karl and Scott originally published this thought-provoking stack, a fair amount of momentum and interest has developed. While some focused on reworking the orginal material with new graphics and slightly updated content (one was quite succesful, having won in two categories of Slideshow's 'World's Best Presentation Contest"), the original authors (with some help from Xplane) have been busy themselves... They just released an updated version: Did You Know 2.0. Check it out...
(Jon Revelos is Director - Story Based Learning at TATA Interactive Systems)