Sometime back I read an interesting article which says that the half life of technical knowledge (period after which knowledge becomes obsolete) is reducing. A few decades back it was perhaps 10 years which has now come down to 18 months. This has significant implications for training and learning.
The most important implication is "no one knows it all". It is just impossible for a person to know everything in their field. Taking an example from the software industry, in 1996 when people first started working in Java, there were developers who knew all of Java, but as the platform started bulging it became increasingly difficult. Now it is possible to know only a part of the platform really well, and as the platform grows, keeping up with the latest information is even more difficult.
Maybe we need to change the learning and training paradigm. Instead of trainers, we need facilitators who are part of a reciprocating learning network. No one is only a learner or only a trainer. Learners probably are 80% consumers and 20% contributors, while facilitators are 20% consumers and 80% contributors. Everyone should ideally teach and learn in a continuous and informal manner.
To facilitate this, we need to change a few things. The first is "attitude". People need to change the attitude of wanting to be "taught" to taking a more proactive role in their learning. They must actively seek knowledge and mentors in the network. The network must consist of micro-mentors where everyone has strong skills in certain areas, and the network as a whole has sufficient knowledge to meet the needs of the community.
Such networks may actually satisfy the training needs of companies much better than classroom based training.
I think the Internet and new media such as blogs, podcasts, and webcasts, and educational technology holds great promise in helping us creat such networks. We can create a suppporting infrastructure using open source technologies, but more about that in another post... :-)