Several things got up my nose yesterday (and I don’t mean literally :). I listened in on the Corporate Learning Trends event in the morning, and in the evening participated in #lrnchat. Don’t get me wrong, both events were great: great presentations organized by Tony Karrer, with examples coordinated by Judy Brown on mobile, Bob Mosher on performance support, Karl Kapp on games & simulations, and Tony on asynchronous elearning (all folks I know and respect); and a great lrnchat session as always with Marcia Conner coordinating fantastic participation by a whole host of great folks. It’s just that several continuing beliefs surfaced that we’ve really got to address.
The first one was the notion that games and simulations are about tarted up quiz shows. Let me be clear, these are a last resort! When you’ve addressed the important decisions, and there’s still some knowledge that absolutely has to be memorized, not looked up, they’re ok. But they’re not your starting point! Games should be first thought of as your best practice environment for skills, not knowledge recitation. What’s going to make a difference in learner (and organizational) performance is not rote knowledge, but meaningful decisions. That is where games shine.
Ok, as Treena Grevatt pointed out, these ‘frame games’ may serve as the easiest entry point for organizational acceptance, but only if you ‘get it’ really, and are only using them as an entry point to do meaningful stuff. Otherwise, it’s still lipstick on a pig.
The problem is, we already have a problem with our formal learning being too knowledge focused, and not skill focused, and a tool to make drill and kill easy isn’t going to help us remedy the problem. So, please: first get that games are really deeply contextualized, immersive, challenging skill practice. Then, when your analysis has addressed that and there still are knowledge components, bring in the quiz show games. If you ‘get’ that, then you might use a stealth policy, but only then.
The second problem had to do with mobile learning. There were still notions that mobile learning could be about courses on a phone and that there’s not really an audience. Look, depending on what metrics you pay attention to, the mobile workforce can be anywhere from 20-40% of your workforce. Sales reps, telecommuters, field engineers, execs, the list goes on. And that doesn’t even tap into the folks who want access for convenience!
And it’s not about courses. It has been, and can be done, but that’s not the real win. As an adjunct to a course, absolutely. Reactivate knowledge (developing learners), update it with podcasts (Chris von Koschembahr had a nice way to interview yourself, controlling the outcome :), review stories, solve problems, review with mentors, etc.
The real win, however (as Judy and Bob both pointed out), is performance support. This can include references, job aids, how to videos, connections to experts, and more. This is huge, yet people don’t seem to be seeing this opportunity yet.
Mobile is ready for primetime. There are ways to deal with screen sizes, security, and cross-platform differences. Next to social learning, I reckon it’s the greatest missed opportunity going.
Speaking of performance support, I do have to admit how surprised I was that people were thinking that single sourcing content to populate help systems, manuals, and training was a new idea. This really isn’t a misconception, it’s just surprising. I led a project developing such an approach years ago now, and it’s another big opportunity. Still ahead of the curve, though, more so than the other two.
The point being, the more you tie these together, the greater the synergy: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And having been out saying these things for years, it continues to surprise me that the meme hasn’t propagated any further than it has. And that’s my learning, that changing minds is a tough job. But still an important one. Evangelism, anyone?