Only a few weeks ago nearly 30 Institute members and friends gathered in Alexandria, Egypt to ask the question 'What is the future of learning and development in the next five to ten years?' and 'How can the Institute contribute to that future?'
The four day event was led by Executive Director, Andrew Steele, and chair of the International Christian Media Commission (ICMC) board of directors, Dr Dave Adams. ICMC is the legal body that provides a home for the Institute and its activities.
The event reviewed the changes in learning and development in the period since the Institute's founding in the late 1990s and attempt to look to the coming decade and plan how to respond going forward.
The conference followed a process of looking at the world in which our learning and development work is located, asking how things had changed and looking forward to what needs to change as we act for the future (Rehm et al., 2002).
Institute Executive Director, Andrew Steele, said that the structure of the conference was designed to encourage a rhythm of worship and inquiry: "Each day we met at regular points to stop and reflect on God's goodness and his direction for the day. We also gave plenty of time for individual reflection which could be brought back to the whole group."
As well as opportunity to get to know one another or renew contacts, time was given to explore a research project that Andrew Steele had undertaken exploring the future of learning and development in countries of the South. Andrew presented the research and highlighted the challenges that had been highlighted including the need to act to rediscover what it means to do good-enough training. Is it enough to something rather than nothing or do we need focus more on the real needs of partners we are working alongside?
Andrew also noted that we still have a long way to go in addressing the challenges faced on the power and cultural relationships in our working relationships. He pointed to the importance of recognising that, despite our best intentions, many of the systems and structures handed on to colleagues are laden with essentially inappropriate power structures. The research also highlighted the value and strengths of communities of practice (Watson and White, 2009) in training alongside the importance of supporting colleagues who often find themselves isolated and alone in their organisations even though they have roles which can and sometimes do have significant impact.
Conference participants drew the week to a close applauding the breadth of the Institute's activities, recognising the importance of facilitation work of the Instiute and calling for the establishment of a task-group to take future planning forward with a particular emphasis on the development of regional champions.
Particular emphasis was given to capturing the conference journey through various media outputs which can be found on the Institute website. Content available includes research reports, conversations between participants, vox pop opinions and video recordings.
Rehm, R. et al. (2002) Futures That Work: Using Search Conference to Revitalize Companies, Communities and Organizations. Stroud: Hawthorn PressWatson, A. and White, T. (2009) Implementing a Work-Based Programme for Organisational Change. in Young, D. and Garnett, J. (eds.) ‘Work-based Learning Futures III’. held 2009 at Derby. University Vocational Awards Council, 69–76