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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Global E-Learning: Rising to the Challenge of Nation Building--Part I


[Author's Note: My apologies to the readers! Part II was published before Part I. This post was the one you should have read first. Cyberspace is not always kind to the creative effort.]

A Story To Tell....

In 1982, I was a classroom teacher in Calgary, Alberta, Canada at the grade 8 level. It was September, the beginning of a new school year and my assignment was to instruct students in the area of Social Studies and Current Events for several grade 8 classes. All the students were bubbling over with excitement. Okay, some were lukewarm. I was informed that I would be receiving a new student, whose family had just arrived from the country of Lebanon. Since I was a current events teacher, I knew that Lebanon had been involved in a civil war with a number of factions still fighting there. Nothing could prepare me for what I was to experience that day when Ali entered my class.
A class assignment was given that day to describe having students describe what a typical daily schedule was like for them at home and then share what they wrote with the rest of the class. This is what Ali read to us:

"..In Lebanon, early in the morning before breakfast my father would gather me and my younger brother together in another room. My father would then blindfold each of us and then place an AK47 automatic rifle in front of us and tell us to take it completely apart and he would time us. After recording our times, he would then then tell us to reassemble it while blindfolded and again he would time us. He would always say that we need to get quicker and more efficient. After our tests we would eat breakfast. Then we would pick up our freshly cleaned weapons and father would tell us to follow him and we would go out quietly and pick spots under cover so that we could kill members of the Christian militia. After doing that we would gather up weapons and ammunition and then go among the ruins to scavenge for things that my father thought we could use..."

After hearing the story, a couple of students asked a question:

Student: " Didn't your mother try to stop you from killing people?"

Ali: "No, my father said that we had to do this or they would kill us. My mother went along with whatever, my father said."

Student: "Why did you come to Canada?"

Ali: "My mother was killed by the militia. My father, with many tears, said that we must leave this place and go somewhere where he could grow old and see his children go to school, get an occupation, get married and have many children. He heard that Canada was a safe place for such things and a beautiful country."

That day many of us grew up after spending most of our young lives taking much for granted.


The Power of Education to Change the World



The power of education to change the world for the better has been an ideal that has been debated through the ages but no more has it been most valued than when a country has lapsed into difficult times brought on by poverty and war. It is at these times when the access to education is removed that we see the growth of injustices, persecution, and that which is morally abhorrent in the eyes of humanity.


Credit: www.edopt.org.uk
 Due to the fact that education has the power to free people from ignorance, enables them to help themselves improve the quality of their lives and in the end, collectively build democratic, viable nations. Tyrants, dictators and others who cherish power and the wealth it provides them, fear the power of education. In many countries where military coups have occurred, educators have been targeted by those who do not want the people under their control to be led to hope that a better life is possible.

Education in Conflict Zones


Most rational individuals would agree that if young people had the opportunity to grow up and be educated free from an atmosphere of hate, mistrust, war and civil instability, that we would see the rise of doctors, lawyers, engineers,..etc dedicated to improving the quality of life of their people in their own countries and perhaps also contributing to the quality of life of peoples on a global scale. Given the truth of such a statement, we are faced with a sobering question:

"How many generations are we willing to sacrifice who have the potential to become nation builders?"





Credit: www.Pinterest.com


Looking at the current conflict zones, the statistics and conditions speak to the frightening answer to that question:




Credit: www.un.org


For those children who survive but remain in a conflict zone surrounded by hate and destruction and with no access to education, they become part of the violence in order to survive.







Those who don't survive do not just become statistics but become a nail in the coffin of hope for a country.




Credit: www.faculty.fordham.edu




Credit: www.baodatviet.un

The Case of Syria

In a recent newspaper series titled: "The Great Exodus of Our Time" by Michael Petrou, the journalist meticulously  highlights individual cases of children who as a result of the devastation in their homelands and the need to labour in order to support their families because their parents have been physically incapacitated or even killed, have no hope for an education in any form. As he points out:

"...What chance does a 12 yr. old boy---who was six when the Syrian war began and has never been to school---have of catching up to his peers elsewhere or even learning to read?.."(Petrou, 2017)

For girls, early marriage, robs many Syrian refugees of an education. As one female student by the name of Safa Zreiqi points out:

 'Some of us don't want to get married. We didn't go to school for nothing. What's a shame is that we studied and got degrees and can't get work.'

As Petrou very aptly points out:

"These boys and girls, an entire generation of Syrians, will one day be men and women who will shape Syria and the Middle East. They will have a far more consequential impact on the region than now." (Petrou, 2017)

My question to you, as educators, is one that is daunting to our souls:

" Given the state of lack of education for thousands of refugee children in Syria and abroad, will the cycle of hate and destruction continue to grow with no end in sight or will it finally be broken so that the coming generations will be peace builders?"



Global E-Learning and Nation Building

Coming back to Nelson Mandela' s statement that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world, as an educator you either believe this to be a true statement or you write it off as just another cute meme.

The numbers of refugees from the Syrian conflict have overwhelmed the resources of the countries taking them in. For example Jordan, a country of 6.5 million people is host to 1.5 million refugees whereas the country of Canada with a population of approximately 36 million people has taken in 40 000 refugees since 2015. We could look at the different European countries and the numbers of refugees that they have taken in but that is not the point of this article.



Credit: Filippo Grandi-UNHCR
As Filippo Grandi points out, how we educate refugee children will determine what the future Syria, Iraq, and other conflict areas in Africa, South America, and Asia will look like. What we are talking about is developing nation builders or re-builders who will break the perpetual cycle of violence found in their home countries. On reading this your response might be:

"Noble sentiment! But how?"


Global E-Learning and Empowering Generations to Be Nation Builders

The nation of Canada just celebrated 150 years as an independent and free nation on July 1, 2017. When we look back to the sacrifices made by past Canadians we recognize that it took real nation builders to unite a land into the second largest country in land mass in the world and yet with a comparatively small population compared to our powerful neighbours to the south. People of those times said that what we were attempting was impossible. Our fathers of confederation built the Canadian Pacific Railway that would unite our land from west to east coast. At the time all bets were against accomplishing such a feat given the varied terrain but we accomplished in 10 years what others said would take 25 yrs.


Credit: www.LinkedIn.com
We know that the key to developing nation builders is to provide an environment where hope for the future of a country can be nourished. Obviously, this can not be done in a war zone.

What I am going to propose to you is an unorthodox solution, a solution as impossible as building a railway across a sea of mountains using only equipment from the 19th century and yet it may spark other thoughts because it has become the moral imperative of our time to counter those who have spent the last generation as nation destroyers with a new generation of nation builders.

Global e-Learning is part of this solution that I will describe in Part II.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Global E-Learning: Rising to the Challenge of Nation Building--Part II

[Author's Note: Be sure to read Part I of this article first for the sake of continuity]

It would be an understatement to suggest how unprepared Europe and North America were for the waves of refugees fleeing the conflict zones in Syria and Iraq in particular. Regardless of what the media headlines say in order to sell their wares, heroic efforts were made by all countries to accommodate the families now  arriving and continue to arrive at their borders, many requiring food, shelter and immediate medical care.







Credit: www.abc.net.au

However, in settling refugee families, there is a fundamental mistake being made in regards to the education of children and a missed opportunity.

Refugees vs. Immigrants---Education

In order to understand the educational needs of new families arriving from foreign lands, it is important to make a distinction between landed immigrants and refugees. Landed immigrants make a personal choice to leave their home countries and apply for landed immigrant status in another country. It may be for such reasons as:

  • better employment opportunities
  • better education opportunities
  • better opportunity to acquire and settle on land
  • to join other members of the family already living in the host country


The important point to emphasize is that it is the family's personal choice to move which is often based upon the pros and cons of moving to a host country. As such, the focus of helping families adapt to the host country involves an education that allows for a smooth "assimilation" into the culture of the host country whether based upon the "mosaic" or "melting pot" models.

Does the assimilation always work? Not always! Some groups seek to stay closely associated with their cultural and linguistic roots once they arrive in the host country. In Canada, as an example, big cities such as Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto often have areas of the city where specific cultural groups have chosen to work and live together. They still have pledged allegiance to their host country but it is a hyphenated allegiance.

For refugees, the situation is quite different because their choice to leave has been a forced choice in order to survive. So, the questions that need some reflection are:


"Do these refugee groups want to be assimilated into the culture of the host country and even more important, should the education they receive have as its focus the preparation for assimilation?"

As has been witnessed in many European countries, such as Germany, failure to ask these questions have led to clashes of very different civilizations with violence and mistrust on both sides.


Point of View of Refugees

If you were to speak to refugee families about what life was like for them before their homeland became a conflict zone, you would see hesitant smiles as they remembered their family's lives and the lives lived by their fathers and grandfathers. In some instances life was hard but for many despite the hardships, they still had peace, even if it was enforced by a dictator such as Saddam Hussein. Many would tell you that they would like to pass on their traditions to their children and grandchildren but only if there was a democratic government in place that guaranteed certain freedoms that citizens in a country like Canada enjoys. 

If such a future was made possible in their ancestral homelands, would they want to return with their families? Many would say "yes!" Many would like to see their children grow up to become doctors, engineers, nurses, agriculturalists, scientists, lawyers, teachers, writers...etc. and especially if their children could be the ones to re-build their nations. However, such an opportunity is not available in a war zone. However, such an opportunity could be made possible in the host countries.

The Phoenix Project----A Radical Proposal


Rationale for Name: The choice of the name of the project reflects the desire to see nations rise from the ashes through the efforts of those whose futures were forfeited  as a result of being born into a conflict zone. This represents an opportunity for those most affected to re-build their homelands and re-claim their heritage.




Credit: www.pinterest.com

Purpose: To establish "sanctuary education zones" within host countries where the children of refugees (roughly ages 12 and up) may go to access a networked online school system dedicated to educating the children of refugees in all areas of knowledge related to the necessary skillsets for nation building.



Credit: Nefertari (1984)






Mission: To educate and empower the children of refugees in the skills of nation building for the purpose of helping to create a viable future for their homelands. By being educated in professions vital to re-building their homelands, they would return to their homelands to fill the vacuum created by conflict and sow the seeds of peace for their people.

At first glance, such a vision might seem improbable, impossible or even grossly naive but even now in the Middle East there are model visionaries for the children to learn from. Such an example is the one set by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the UAE.



Credit: www.twitter.com


Creation of a Global Networked Online School and Sanctuary Education Zones

In order to layout a framework for how such a project would be structured, it is best to think about some pertinent questions:

1. How do we identify and encourage parents of refugee children to consider this type of education path for their children? When refugee families enter host countries and are being processed, we describe what we have in mind and why we see this as a good path for their children. For those who are living in temporary refugee camps and are receiving medical help, this offer can be made to parents of age appropriate children. Otherwise, public announcements made in the different languages of the refugees are posted in areas where refugee families go to get food and water.












2. Do we have the technology available for creating a globally connected online school? The fact that we already have online schools and universities established means that we do have the technology and the knowledge for setting such a school up. The technology is advancing in such a way as to give more control to all individuals regardless of their status and language is becoming less and less of a barrier


Credit: Roger Hamilton



3. What do these "sanctuary education zones" in the host countries offer? These zones contain technology centers that are set up for children to go and login to their education. They are manned by mentors who are trained to interact with the children in English but also interpreters could be added so that they can receive instructions in their own languages. These zones also offer the opportunity for children to collaborate with children in other sanctuary education zones to exchange ideas, solve real world problems and educate each other with respect to their cultural traditions. Part of the path to peaceful co-existence is to be able to communicate with each other in a non-threatening environment.

4. What happens if these "sanctuary education zones" should be threatened in some manner? Having the school and its courses online would also mean that children could access their education from mobile devices such as Smart Phones, tablets and any other mobile device on a 24/7 time basis. This means that if the centres need to be closed down because of a potential threat, children would not be prevented from continuing their education. With the creation of virtual online communities and worlds, access to education becomes more and more of a collaborative experience.


Credit: Roger Hamilton









Although the above is just an example, our lessons from the experience with virtual worlds in "Second Life" has taught us that we can collaborate on a global scale. The caveat is that cybersecurity is just as important in the online world as it is in our very real world.




5. How will this project be financially supported? This would require participation by stakeholders willing to do their part in seeking to achieve a higher purpose. LMS providers to digital entrepreneurs would be involved. In order for something like this to happen, we have to come to terms with what value nations place upon providing education for its children and especially in these times, the education of displaced children living in refugee camps and in host countries. The facts speak for themselves:


Credit: www.motherjones.com




Credit: www.pinterest.com


It is time to change the above ratios!



6. Of what benefit is such a project to the host countries and the rest of the nations? 

Considering the financial drain that the cycle of conflicts have placed on the economies such as the United States , Russia, and other European nations, such a plan would present an opportunity to break that cycle and allow nations to divert funding into more peaceful endeavors. This brings forth a sobering question:

"Is it not about time that we re-task our spending as nations so that we break the cycle of having children who are born into a cycle of violence in favor of spending more to educate new generations to become nation builders?"

Credit: www.wenr.wes.org






Credit: Thaer Mohanmmed



Global e-Learning presents us with an opportunity to educate, nurture and connect generations of children who could become re-builders of their homelands if provided with a peaceful sanctuary in which to grow and acquires the skills of nation building. The inheritance of a peaceful future where they can grow, build families and establish life long friendships on a global scale should not be kept from them any longer. We have the knowledge and the evolving technology to make it happen but do we have the wisdom to put self-interest aside and work for something far more precious and greater than ourselves? That is the tipping point of this proposal.



(If you are passionate about not losing more generations of potential scientists, doctors, engineers, nurses, educators to the vicious cycle of war where children are taught to embrace death, make these two articles go viral on the web! 

For business organizations this should be a wake up call because if you hope to prosper on a global level, keep in mind that the generations that we don't pull from the quagmire of cyclical violence will wage war against society on the new battlefield, the world wide web! Not a threat, just a growing reality.)






Friday, August 11, 2017

Update: Important Article

Greetings to all those who follow this blog.

I wanted to update you on an important article that I am having published in two parts in LinkedIn in the e-Learning Industry forum starting tomorrow (Aug. 12). It is an important article because it connects global e-Learning to the prospect of nation building in conflict zones. The title of this article is:

"Global E-Learning: Rising to the Challenge of Nation Building-Part I"

Part II of this article will be published in this same forum on Aug. 16.

What makes this article so important

It is important because it ties all the advances that we have made both pedagogically and technologically to a very real world problem that needs to be addressed now because the future of nations are at stake.

When you read it, you might say: "How can we possibly accomplish what is proposed?" A better question that should be considered: "What will happen if we don't and can we live with the consequences?"

For people to think about this, they first need to be aware and so I am asking, if it is within your power, make this two part article go viral on the web. It seems that we are able to make many trivial things become a thousand hit wonder on the web, so, now I hope that you will consider this article as something of substance dealing with something that is greater than ourselves.

For myself, I am not looking for recognition. I am satisfied that I rest knowing that I stood up for something that was important to me with passion.

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After this article, I will be devoting some postings in this blog to creating realistic learning cultures within business organizations using e-Learning.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Desperate Need for Inspiration and Brilliance As Drivers in E-Learning

When we observe the rising changes in technology and the exponential rise in information and from it new knowledge, we have to ask the question:

"Are we making the best use of these waves of change or are we like mice in a maze going great distances through the lure of a quick meal but never really being able to synchronize these forces of change to achieve greater meaningful progress in e-Learning?"







However, the question, despite its length, does speak to a problem that exists in the way that we view e-Learning. In order to save time in whatever our daily pursuits are whether in the business or academic world, we are constantly in search of the quick fix that doesn't require of us to do much thinking beyond the bullet points.

In following this pattern, what are we sacrificing or missing as a result?

"Are we mastering the increasing forces of change in technology, pedagogy and individualized learning or are they mastering us?"

Where have those who use to inspire our imaginations to see things in a different light gone? Where are the Nikola Teslas, the Da Vinci's , the Michelangelos, of the 21st century? 






Credit: www.quotesgram.com




We have young people who need such people as a source of inspiration so that they too can be nurtured and mentored so that they in turn may be an inspiration to others. We need to recognize and celebrate the appearance of brilliance in young people and not shuttle them off to their own intellectual ghettos to be with their own kind as we presently do. 





Credit: www.hacklibraryschool.com

The debilitating cycle of cynicism that seems to be the driver in many of our societies needs to be broken so that young people can become the architects of a future that has hope for the improvement of the quality of life for all people. E-Learning represents a vehicle that when orchestrated and driven by a vision that believes in hope for the future can have a tsunami effect both in education and in the business world that reaches out and connects young people globally so that what they are tasked with is no longer a local initiative but one on a global scale. Not to persevere in creating such an environment results in young people who will learn and use technology to subvert and use  to increase their own personal gain to the detriment of the good of all people.




"As a business organizations, what kind of new employee do you want to have, one who seeks to use their brilliance to further the cause and health of your organization or one who will use their digital skills to hack your systems and sell your prized innovations to the highest bidder on the web?"

For business directors, some sobering questions to ask your self are:

"How well do you know the intellectual and creative abilities of the employees you depend upon as an organization? Do you have in your midst pockets of brilliant people whose abilities you are not recognizing and as a result are not using to the potential that they are capable of ? Are these the people who are disconnected from your vision for your organization?"

For business organizations, e-Learning when done right can open up a whole new dimension of increased  ROI that you had not possible. The question is how badly do you want it? 

What is the state of your organization's learning culture with respect to the use of e-Learning? Still doing things the way you have always done them?





Or, have you discovered the great benefits of identifying brilliance, nurturing it among your employees and encouraging them to be an inspiration to all?




If you are a business organization, it is time to truly maximize your potential by identifying and nurturing a learning culture where brilliance and inspiration can lead to breath taking innovative ideas that will move you forward in the global economy. If you are in education, your take away from this is to get off the assembly line education model because in today's world one size does NOT fit all and then you will be able to truly appreciate brilliance and be inspired to accomplish great things with young people.




Global Collaboration



We do not need an army of non-thinking, non-creating, non-inspiring conformists. We need those whose brilliance we will nurture, encourage, and showcase through their innovations to the world, so that many of the real world problems that are plaguing our societies can finally be resolved so that quality of life of all people will be enriched.
Effective, well designed, innovative e-Learning is a means to reach globally and heal the wounds of our societies. Build it into our higher education systems and build it into the fabric of the learning cultures of our global business organizations. Our survival truly depends on it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

An Honourable Request

Many of the ideas that I have been exploring in this blog on the evolution of e-Learning and the rising technologies are starting to come into fruition as a result of technological advancement. As a result, I have a request that if you make reference to ideas that have been mentioned here, that you also share the link to this blog which is:

www.darkzoneeducation.blogspot.com







Of Hope and Inspiration!

One of my goals was to stimulate the imaginations of what could be through effective e-Learning and inspire young people to have an active voice in how the future of e-Learning will take shape and how they can be the architects as agents of change of a brighter future that would enrich the quality of life of all people. Unfortunately, too many young people are entangled in the despair of what they see around them and have bought into the cynical mindset that is prevalent in many societies. We see this being played out in countries where living each day is one more day under siege both physically and morally.

If innovation and collaboration are to be nurtured as benefits to our societies, we need to inspire young people to work together for something that is far greater than themselves. This can be accomplished through the effective development of e-Learning in such a way that young people believe that they can make a meaningful difference to their societies as agents of change.



What is required is to mentor them to start to build bridges collaboratively and on a global scale. This process, like any process that is worthwhile pursuing, is not without risks. To take this journey, we need young people who are a "thinking generation" which means a generation who welcomes the challenge of debating ideas that will bring about a transformation that will improve the quality of life for all people instead of a generation addicted to "group think". 

So, my appeal to you is to check out previous posts in this blog in terms of challenging ideas and invite young people to see them and most importantly, use their own imaginations to push the boundaries of all areas of learning to the benefit of all. The future they create is one that we will all have to live in.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Part II--"It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times"--Motivation to Learn

Charles Dickens, in his opening to his work titled: "A Tale of Two Cities"(1859) wrote the following:



Credit: www. Quote Addicts.com



It would be very easy to see the condition of our own world today in this quote but if we did, we would miss that what the quote was leading into was a revolution that would involve great self-sacrifice on the part of the people of France. However, not all revolutions need result in a "winter of despair" but can lead us to a far better place than we have ever been before.

The fateful words of Charles Dickens might very well describe the condition of e-Learning in the highly connected digital world we live in. We can see the contrasts of the "age of wisdom" and the "age of foolishness" when we compare those in education and business at every level refusing to encourage the growth of adaptive, agile, collaborative learning cultures and willing to settle for the status quo in learning that hasn't changed in decades. This is representative of an age of foolishness in which the sacrifices are made by learners who desire and need to learn but see no motivation in learning that stems from curiosity and a very human love of learning.




Credit: Macleans Magazine



The Spring of Hope: Motivation to Learn and Irresistible Engagement

Finding that elusive motivation to learn and fostering an engagement in learning that learners find irresistible is the hope that we have in the development of e-Learning experiences within business training and formal education. True and sustained engagement of the learner can only be achieved when the intrinsic motivation of the learner is more powerful than artificial external motivators. For learners, whether business employees or students in formal education, there are levels of engagement that describe the reaction of learners to the learning experiences that they are exposed to. These reactions also speak to the effectiveness and vision of the instructional design used in the creation of the e-Learning experiences.



Credit: Jim Marteney (2015)



 At the highest point of engagement as indicated in the diagram, you have a learner reaction of high attention and high commitment.



Credit: Jim Marteney (2015)




At the middle level, Ritual Compliance, you have the reaction of a learner that is quite representative of many university students as well as learners in corporate training sessions to the learning experiences.



Credit: Jim Marteney (2015)

At the lowest end you have outright rebellion against engaging the learning experiences chosen for them. In business organizations, the easy manner of dealing with the situation is to eliminate the disruptive influence. Although this may seem like an expedient solution, it is probably not the wisest course of action because in doing so we may be blinding ourselves to serious pedagogical problems inherent in the design of the learning experiences that we are exposing employees to.


Credit: Jim Marteney (2015)

(Editor's note: It appears that this rebellion also applies to the spelling of the word.)


 It is for that reason that we need to see the importance of having someone on staff who does not fit the standard pattern of HR staff but it needs to be someone who is in tune with and current with learning principles that are being uncovered through the research of Cognitive Learning scientists. It needs to be someone who can create learning profiles for employees and is able to convey to employees that they are willing to invest the requisite time in helping them grow in their learning within the organization. It needs to be someone who recognizes that for most business organizations, "blended e-Learning" is the best fit. This learning growth is not to be reserved just for the front line employees but also those who occupy the executive suite of the organization. Leading by example is a priority for a healthy organization in an age of information and learning.


The positive indicators are that students or business employees want to be engaged in their learning but that learning must have important characteristics built into it. Michael Allen, author of " Michael Allen's Guide to e-Learning" (2016) put it very succinctly when he stated that if we want learners to be engaged in their e-Learning experiences, those experiences need to be:


  • Meaningful
  • Memorable
  • Motivational
If we believe that having employees come to training sessions, providing them with trays of snack foods and then exposing them to stacks of PowerPoint slides will lead to sustained engagement in their learning, we are being quite naive and blind to the levels of digital connections to reservoirs of knowledge that employees have outside their work environment. For e-Learning to be meaningful, it means that the employees need to be able to connect with it on a personal level that relates to their goals both in the work environment and outside that environment.








Sadly, there is alot of poorly designed, bad e-Learning on the web. Although MOOCS are improving, they still have a high percentage of learners who never finish courses. Their engagement has become disengagement.

Engagement and Motivation to Learn in High Education

When it comes to college and university, we need to ask in regards to e-Learning, what do students expect from their online education? Solving the simple problems enable us to arrive at solutions for greater problems:

Credit: Caroline Brock (2016)


Credit: Caroline Brock (2016)

As is indicated above, taking care of the daily little things goes along way towards creating confidence on the part of the learner that decision makers have a vested interest in the learning of the employees or students and are willing to demonstrate that interest in credible, non-artificial ways.

This brings us back to the need indicated in Part I that in order to develop effective, irresistibly engaging e-Learning where learner engagement becomes more and more fueled by intrinsic motivation, we need to include the voice of the silent stakeholders in learning, the students or learners themselves. Without their voice, motives that have more to do with profit reports rather than high quality, effective e-Learning design will become the drivers to a continued disengagement of employees and students in formal education. 







Friday, April 28, 2017

Is LinkedIn Everything It Can Be As a Professional Portal? A Rhetorical Question?

Anyone who has been associated with LinkedIn over an appreciable amount of time has noticed a variety of changes, some good and some quite questionable.There are two agents of change in the transformations that we have seen. First, there are the changes made by those who form the administration of LinkedIn. Their primary motive is to attempt to make the overall experience pleasant for all users while maintaining their original mission of creating an environment for professionals from many strata of our societies to connect, discuss common issues and form professional bonds. This mission is useful in that we all have a professional story to tell and as users we have a desire and an essential need to learn and grow.




Secondly, there are changes made by those participants in LinkedIn who make up the subscribers to all the professional forums set up in LinkedIn which represent the many professional interests which have a common thread running through them which is the use of technology as it pertains to the specific interests of groups. Having stated that we should stop, step back and ask an important question:

"Is LinkedIn everything it can be as a professional portal?"

To begin to answer such a question, we need to look at the status of LinkedIn but more importantly, the perceptions of LinkedIn on the part of the participants.


The Nature of LinkedIn and Participant Perceptions

Looking at the stats on LinkedIn, we see some interesting forms of growth:



Credit: www.LinkedIn Blog.com
The stats as they appear show an impressive pattern of growth but to be honest in such as assessment, we have to ask:

"Impressive pattern of growth compared to what?"

The natural response on the part of many individuals would be to compare its growth to social media giants such as Facebook  and Twitter but do we really want to use them as the comparative standard? We claim that LinkedIn is a professional portal but then to compare it to social media portals we run the risk of forfeiting its professional status. This is where we have to take a reality check and ask :


"What are the perceptions of the subscribers to LinkedIn in terms of how they think it is used?"





Credit: www.themommiesnetwork.blogspot.com

In looking at the above survey results, do the responses reflect more a perspective that LinkedIn is a professional portal or that in fact it is another clone of Facebook or Twitter?



Credit: www.entrepreneur.com

It is interesting that two articles have recently appeared that predict the demise of LinkedIn as a professional site due to the ever changing perception that it is steadily transforming into just another social media portal.


Credit: www.LinkedIn.com

In an article by Jaakko Paalanen titled: "The Death of LinkedIn"(April, 2017) , he points out an interesting juxtaposition that is occurring between the focus of Facebook and LinkedIn when it comes to promoting business interests. In a second article by Daniel Tunkelang titled: "How LinkedIn Could Be Disrupted" (April 2017), an interesting point is made that despite the big data that LinkedIn collects on subscriber preferences and offerings, they are not staying ahead of the curve when it comes to innovating and as a result, down the road, an opportunity exists by rising competitors to disrupt it.

The Problem and Potential Solutions

At this point in time one might ask whether or not we see evidence of this drift of LinkedIn towards becoming more of a social media site. For many people on LinkedIn, this has been a resounding yes. Consider the number of times people have complained about the amount of social media content appearing on LinkedIn and the number of likes that such complaints have garnered. To those who are complaining, I would offer these challenges:

"What are you doing personally to change this?"

"How often have you, personally, instigated a discussion that is in line with the mission of LinkedIn?"

"How often do you personally respond to posts in more than the traditional 140 characters of a social media site such as Twitter?"

"How much time are you willing to allocate to a thoughtful response to a post or are you still time's prisoner?"

As much as we dislike the misuse of LinkedIn, it would be hypocritical not to admit that we are also part of the problem. 

So, what are some possible solutions?

  1. Get involved in discussions in meaningful ways that promote the stance that we are all learners and can profit much from the expertise of others.
  2. Promote and encourage discussion. Even though LinkedIn can be a one-stop "tip factory", it needs the help of subscribers to truly help it become more innovative.
  3. Make a point of sharing articles that caused you to stop and think with others.
  4. Stop complaining and making excuses for the quality of LinkedIn by leading by example.

These are just a few ideas but the last word of wisdom, I leave to a cartoon character:



Credit: Walt Kelly


[If you find this article interesting, pass it on but more importantly discuss it. Also, it might be helpful to share this article on LinkedIn itself but I will leave that up to the reader!]