“The ledger”

So we aren’t even at week 1 of the IDEL course, and the University of Edinburgh team are already serving up some real food for thought.

We were given some links to video content to peruse – I’m guessing as a way of getting the juices flowing and priming us for some of the content we’re likely to be discussing.

One in particular peaked my interest – ‘Learning is Earning 2026 by the Institute for the Future (IFTF)’.

It’s a video produced by the Institute for the Future. I’ve never come across them before, but am really glad to have done so. As an organisation it seems to me that they speculate on what the future could look like, by combining several recent developments or trends. In this example they’re exploring a combination of block-chaining, digital credentials and a flat, non-hierarchical form of learning from your peers.

It’s already got the cogs whirring, but some initial thoughts came to mind:

  • The digital credentials mooted in the video are not something for the future, indeed they are already here. From recent conversations I’ve had with my own clients, this is starting to trickle into the mainstream. Whereas in the past they’ve seen quite abstract (I always felt Mozilla’s backpack was a great initiative but had some flaws), we’re starting to see commercial competitors, such as credly and accredible come to the fore. I see great potential in the digitisation of credentials, especially when it comes to providing granular information around the ‘achievement’, real scale (from quick wins to full degrees), and also providing rigour around the attainment of the credential.
  • I’ve also previously come across xAPI, which is using of technology to capture ‘learning moments’ outside of any formal programme and recognising these. Again this is a theme raised in the video. It’s already a tangible form, but it’s still in it’s infancy.

(Both points remind me of a quote by writer William Gibson – “The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” source)

Some other thoughts came to mind:

  • I’m really intrigued by the concept of peer-to-peer teaching – and particularly how this can be tied into a form of digital credential. Is a digital credential only of value if it comes from a ‘reputable’ source, and the output of the learning can be assessed and qualified? I’m sure this is an area we’ll be digging into over the next few weeks.
  • Following on from this, the video raises the incentivisation of peer-to-peer learning through digital credentials (although it doesn’t have to be limited to this). This could be a direction that commoditises, and ultimately weakens the value of the credentials, so if I was the CEO of ‘Ledger LTD’, I’d be wary of the approach to this.
  • It strikes me that using ‘ledgers’ as a basis for granting work, as described by the HR director, can empower hirers to make better decisions. But unless I’m missing something, it should be used in conjunction with the more traditional methods of hiring, to assess overall culture fit and motivations. But this is probably a subject for another time!

Now, back to that list of videos…