I was loaned a review copy of The Learning eXplosion from the author and I was really excited to read what was written not only because I know the author and am intimately familiar with FranklinCovey, but also because I'm very interested in both Technology and Education in general and felt that an exploration of Online and Technology based learning is a very intriguing topic well worth exploring.
The book is laid out vey well and feels very conversational. From the first page to the last, I felt like I was engaged in a discussion with the authors. Granted, it's a one-sided discussion as far as the book is concerned because obviously while a "static" book may pose questions to the reader, it doesn't respond or alter the discussion based on my responses. However, this book (as you might suspect based on the topic) includes supplemental online material to not only keep the discussion going but to turn it into a more "LIVE" conversation. The authors maintain an active twitter account, blogs, Facebook pages and more. By doing this, not only do they help ensure their readers can be kept up to date with new information, but they also actively engage with their readers to answer questions or postulate on concerns and continue discussions. So in a sense, the book transcends the page in the very way they suggest 21st century learning needs to transcend the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom/teacher learning.
As I read the book, there was a natural flow/progression. The book began with general education and information about the Online Learning trajectory and the influence and influx of technology…each chapter/segment gradually introducing more and more information and presenting ideas for learning and incorporating more. After a time, the flow moved towards the idea of transitioning "your" training/education system from traditional learning to online learning.
For me, the first portion of the book was very interesting and engaging. The ideas and concepts were very intriguing and I found myself wanting to stop reading in order to go and check out some of the applications or websites referenced in the book. There is a great appendix to the book with notes and references that include URLs to applications, websites, studies and more to help supplement the areas referenced in the text. There are many that I hope to follow through and learn more about.
As I moved into the latter portion of the book, my reading was from more of a theoretical level. While I work in software development and naturally help support and roll out any technological modifications to our company's training program…it would not be within my sphere of influence to pitch an idea for an Online Learning platform. As part of my supporting role, I could certainly provide feedback for the primary stakeholder, but I felt like I was not really the target audience for the latter portion of the book. As such, there were segments of the reading that didn't really connect with me and towards which I felt overly critical even though my personal knowledge of those interactions (specifically those of a stakeholder working with corporate level executives to get approval/etc) is certainly not as rich as the intended audience (the proposing stakeholder) would be.
Still, even without being exactly the target audience, I felt that even the latter portion of the book held enough general knowledge and ideas that it could be valuable information even for someone like me (in more of a support role to the stakeholder) or even for an individual team contributor simply looking to learn more about emerging technology.
I certainly agree with the premise in this book that the world of learning is changing. Some of the data was shocking to me but not entirely surprising when I stepped back and thought about the nature of technological growth in the past few years. I think back over my dozen years in college (I was a part time student that took more than a decade to get my Bachelor's degree). Over that time, the learning models at the University changed at least 3 times that I can recall. Admittedly, most of my classes/learning was in a "traditional" model, but even then there was plenty of growth and movement towards a blended model where technology was increasing in importance.
I think this book would be a great read for any educator or lover of technology (especially emerging technologies related to blending learning with social media). I also firmly believe that this book has lots of great information for a training manager, hr manager, or other stakeholder looking to expand the training and learning opportunities within a company or organization. This book has a wealth of great information and resources to help jump start your online learning strategy.
(NOTE: You can find links to some of the resources mentioned in the book by hopping over to the authors's blog at www.TheLearningeXplosion.com. The blog is updated fairly frequently and includes links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts as well).
4 out of 5 stars
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