Learning is communication's child

"Learning is communication's child. Our children speak too many languages" (Tim Cliffe).

It reads, as very profound, but what exactly does it mean?

I trust "Learning is communication's child" is self evident. So why do our children speak too many languages, and what are the inferred consequences for learning?

To communicate effectively we must:
  • have a common system of reference
  • a common understanding
  • a desire to listen
I assume the capacity to understand exists.


Teaching (learning) fashions

Having been involved in education, both 'traditional' and digital, for longer than I care to remember, I have encountered fad after fad, the latest new brilliant teaching theory, the last thing in technology that is going to solve all our teaching (and by association learning) problems.

I have listened to 'professionals' spout jargon, to colleagues and at clients, of which they obviously have no understanding...

"We employ the latest Web2 technologies!"

Do you really? What a pity there is no such thing.

"...Bloom's taxonomy..."

Why are you still citing Bloom? That was 1959! You really are cutting edge. Of course, I am not suggesting Bloom is now irrelevant, simply that we have progressed.

Questions abound on various blogs...

"How do we use social media in learning?"
"How do we ensure we integrate mobile technologies?"
"What will be the next big thing in digital learning?"
"How do we deliver 'just in time' learning?"

I am not suggesting such questions should not be asked, but these are not the first questions to ask.

Have you looked at a range of digital learning products? Having read the company blurb about their innovative cutting edge solutions, you would not expect to find similar products to those available ten years ago.


The problem with fashion

The challenge is a simple one, assuming the digital learning company is capable, the challenge is the customer. The customer has:
  • funds too limited to do the job
  • limited resources
  • four members of staff, each writing 25 half-hour activities for the project, in four weeks. Plus their usual job, of course
  • a senior manager who decides to bring the already very tight schedule forward by 25%
  • another more senior manager banging on about time-scales and how much importance is attached to the project
I can see you all nodding frantically. You know exactly what I am talking about, it happens in almost every project.

"I say old chap, you appear to have lost your 'thread'."

My thread is not lost. The point I am making is, if we know the reality, why are we pretending it is something else? Why do we not focus on getting the basics right. Let's face it, there is a good deal of digital learning out there that fails miserably, and we have all been forced to produce it.

Why are we, the professionals, not speaking the truth, using the same language, instead of concentrating on impressing each other with our knowledge of jargon. Let us all be very honest.



Our customers have paid for their digital learning, and a few years hence, decide to expand. The customer has to re-develop the existing programme and then add the new. Let's concentrate on developing learning programmes that really are effective.

That means speaking the same language, and that includes technology. There are solutions 'out there' that do not require tens of thousands be spent on software licences. Solutions that will work on any device. Solutions that come with freely available up-dates. Why are we not ensuring they are supported the most?

The answer is simple, we do not care enough to make it happen.


Too many languages

Too much jargon, too many different software solutions jostling for dominance, and finally too many spoken languages.

"Did he write 'too many spoken languages'?"

We have too many languages. Let me re-iterate...

"Learning is communication's child. Our children speak too many languages"

The single greatest barrier to human evolution and co-existence, is language, that is to say, the number of languages. By implication, it must also be the greatest barrier to learning, from the moment we are born.

"Oh I see, what you are suggesting is to get rid of every language except one. Yeah, right, I can see that happening"

No! What I suggest is to keep every language, and to actively promote an already well established trend...

The globalisation of the English language.

"How on Earth do you think the digital learning community can make that happen?"


"Learning is communication's child. Our children speak one language"

English was the global language for many fields of endeavour, long before cheap travel and the internet accelerated the process. Today, English is moving ever closer to becoming the global language.

We can make a significant contribution to the future of our species by encouraging that process. By ensuring we can all communicate with each other, without fear of 'being lost in translation', or simply not having a clue what the other person is saying.

We can encourage our clients to produce every digital asset in their own language and English. Be creative, make them a deal, where there is a will there is a way.

We can start a trend. Ever seen a trend flourish on Twitter, or an on-line campaign take the world by storm. It can be done.

Let's make a real contribution to our future. Let's make a world where everyone, for the first time since man left the trees, speaks a common language. Through the medium of the internet, it is a goal within our grasp.

The greatest freedom we can possess, as a species, is a common language. Digital learning has the potential to make it happen.