A shift is happening in workplaces across the globe. It is an evolution in the ways people will interact, collaborate, coordinate, and accomplish their work. This evolution, this paradigm shift is based around the social media rich ecosystem of the Internet and all of the emerging technologies that it brings into our lives.
Case in point, a recent survey conducted by Acrobat.com with Directions Research Inc. The results detail this coming change.
The survey results indicate that, “an evolution in office workplace culture, including the changing ways white-collar workers are interacting and coordinating their tasks, and how business will be conducted in the social media-rich environment of the 21st century.”
The 21st Century Professional has long been described as a “knowledge worker.” This term, famously coined by management guru Peter Drucker, is the very essence of educators and Professional Learning Communities. The survey identified four key categories of knowledge workers:
Leaders - Young professionals who use a variety of emerging technologies both at work and in their personal lives
Actives - Largely over-35 year old professionals who have adapted to emerging technologies to meet the changing demands of the workplace
Followers - The less technically-inclined who rely on e-mail at the exclusion of other technologieResistors - Generally older workers who are reluctant to adjust to shifts in the workplace and office technologies
The survey research suggests several trends that have will have an impact on the way Professional Learning Communities will work in the coming future.
1: “The leap in new technology options and the shifting demographics of the workforce mean that the old, traditional way of doing business is rapidly being enhanced by new ways of working. More business will be conducted using emerging communications technologies and social networking platforms.”
Professional Learning Communities will soon be filled members of this “shifting demographic.” They will be comfortable with technology as a natural extension of their work, how they communicate, how they collaborate, how they plan, etc. The technology is certainly going to continue to evolve making it even easier to collaborate virtually.2. “Technologies that people prefer to use in their private lives will become the technologies people want to use at work...what we call the consumerization of collaboration.”
Technology is going to increase its involvement and importance in all aspects of our lives. The younger demographic will assume these technologies will be used, and demand it if they aren’t.
3. “The younger generation prefers to use multiple channels of communication, often choosing social networks, text messaging or instant messaging instead of e-mail and in-person meetings.”
The coming demographic (and a growing percentage of the current population of educators) will see these technologies as a logical extension of who they are and how they work.
Technology is going to change how Professional Learning Communities collaborate and interact with each other.
Why? The next generation of educators is not going to recognize a functional difference between person-to-person PLCs and virtual ones. The coming generation consider those who participate through the “virtual” technologies as present, as being there. They will live in two worlds simultaneously. And they will be good at it, because for them, it isn’t really two worlds at all. There is just real touch and virtual touch. But it’s all touch.
Professional Learning Communities will move back-and-forth from the conference table to the digital network.
If you are interested, here is the Acrobat Survey.