Thursday, 13 February 2014

Somewhere to call home

After nearly ten years calling New Zealand home, last night I got to call New Zealand my country too.  Gaining citizenship is no small step and not something you enter into lightly.  Whilst some people may suggest that you’ll never be a true Kiwi if you weren’t born here, I think most of us realise that’s just not the way the modern world goes.  It’s a bit like adopting a child or being a step-parent; they may not biologically be yours but you have taken them in as if they were - in fact since you’ve actually made a choice about them in some ways it’s more significant.  Same goes with nationality; we have no control over where we’re born but we choose to live in a certain place and beyond that there’s the ultimate choice to truly belong, as a citizen.

So where am I going with all of this?  It strikes me much the same is true in learning technologies; we get our technologies in a similar fashion.  Some we review, carefully consider and choose, others we inherit or have just grown up with.  The important thing is not necessarily where the technology came from (or blaming who chose it) but what you can do with it.  I’m reading the interesting book by Nigel Larra ‘The Modern Family Survival Guide’, I can’t help thinking a similar guide would be useful for us in the L&D and Training Manager world.  Learning Technologies Survival Guide?  I’m not sure, but one of the great things in the book is the disposal of the myth of the ‘perfect family’ and advice about accepting what you have and making the best of it.  So it is with an LMS; for example, there’s no such thing as the perfect LMS (shock, horror) or the perfect authoring tool (but…) or even the perfect web-browser.  It’s a fallacy and knowing that alone is a massive first step towards making the most of your system.

I still haven’t really explained my direction have I?  Well, it’s clear there’s no such thing as the perfect family and aspiring towards something that doesn’t exist with the components that could never be that way is crazy.  Same as with country.  I accept New Zealand fully as my country with all its flaws and annoying bits (shock, horror again) and hope that both my family and country accept me the same way with all my flaws (this time there’s a distinct lack of the shock and horror and almost certainly a longer list).  So it should be with your learning technologies.  Either accept what you have and make the most of it; or relocate yourself or get a divorce (again I speak of experience of both).  Seriously, if your Moodle instance is not perfect but you can work with it and find a way to make it work then embrace it and call it home.  If you’re stuck with Captivate but lust after Lectora then either make do with Captivate and start really unlocking the power it holds, or really do something about it.  But remember Lectora isn’t perfect and Sum Total isn’t good (sorry, that was mean, I meant perfect either).  The other man’s grass may look greener but you have to spend time over there before you can be sure… and don’t expect Captivate to understand while you have an ongoing affair with Lectora!

If you know realise that you can live with your current system that’s great, you’ve found a home and start making it your own.  If not, then you need to start working up a strategy for change based upon reality not some fantasy of what life with Lectora really entails.  My dad said to me when I first emigrated here that although it was a great place, to remember you still have to work, there will still be hard times and some people won’t like you.  He’s right (wow, he’d love to hear that), that new system you make crave will still take a lot of work, will still have annoying bits that you can’t change and some people will dislike it.  We’re all a bit like that though aren’t we?  Both in ourselves and our families and even in the country we live in.

Perhaps Dolly Parton said it best… “if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with”  or maybe it’s a case of asking not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country… or maybe it’s just time I stopped with the cliches and just worked with what I have the best I can?  Whatever you’re dealing with, it’s likely to go better if you put yourself into it fully.