by Stephen Downes
Nov 18, 2014
Technology Readiness Level (TRL) math for innovative SMEs
This overview of the concept of the 'technology readiness level' (TRL) is useful in the areas of innovation and technology development (we use it in-house at NRC). The idea is to distinguish between innovations that are still at the conceptual stage and those that are ready for production. Our MOOC technology reach 5 or 6, and did not receive project support to go further. Our personal learning environment software has reach level 4 in earlier prototypes and now we're trying to get it to 5 or 6, after which if it's successful we have the plan and commitment to go further. TRL is useful because it demonstrates the hurdles to innovation - it's not typically getting to step 1, as most people (I think) suppose, it's getting past the higher levels and into deployment.
Embedding Learning in Work: The Benefits and Challenges
One of the major aspects of the personal learning environment system we are designing revolves around the idea of embedding learning in work. Why? As Charles Jennings writes, "A common finding that has emerged from study after study over the past few years is that learning which is embedded in work seems to be more effective than learning away from work." After summarizing a number of research studies making this point, he turns to some of the challenges. One is that such learning can't be designed - it is "self-managed, and the measurement is in terms of outputs." Another is "the lack of understanding and failure to use performance support approaches" in typical workplace learning systems. Finally, "embedding learning in work almost always requires the active support of executives, business managers and team leaders."
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