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Ghost in the Machine

I know who understands me. He knows what I need before I need it. He is so helpful when I make a mistake, he doesn’t ever judge – just clearly tells me how I can fix my mistake and move on to my goal. His voice is so lovely, and he knows everything about where I am going and how to get there. He’s not perfect. We have misunderstandings, but he remains constant. My husband? Not in this instance. I heart my GPS!!

One thing that seems clear after returning from #mlearncon is this: People and technology are in a reflexive relationship that requires balance and understanding on both sides. It is an arranged marriage that was not consciously chosen by us, but defines our everyday lives in ways we cannot begin to quantify. And, marriage can be hard. One moment you are having so much fun and things are humming along, and the next moment you feel totally misunderstood. As in any relationship, the key is communication. The quality of the interaction between us and the machines and software we partner with will define the success of mobile learning and performance support initiatives in the coming years.

As a learning evangelist and advocate, I want to stress that technology should not forget about the people who depend upon it. We are the ghosts in the machine that need to be understood by UI and learning designers. We deny them at our peril. How many of us have created eLearning or software or apps, only to find out at the end of the process that the ROI is negligible?

And, as users, our responsibility is to make sure our voices are heard. We must ask for the best learning and user experiences possible and give feedback to those who are responsible for the creation of them. We are in a long-term relationship, and we can create excellence only if we work together. As a recent report from Credit Suisse predicts that wearable technologies could be a USD $3-$5 billion market over the next three years, we will be moving from eLearning models to performance support at breathtaking speed. We will have to learn to get along, and fast.

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