Learnlets
Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

24 February 2015

Making ‘sense’

Clark @ 8:19 am

I recently wrote about wearables, where I focused on form factor and information channels.  An article I recently read talked about a guy who builds spy gear, and near the end he talked about some things that started me thinking about an extension of that for all mobile, not just wearables.  The topic is  sensors.

In the article, he talks about how, in the future, glasses could detect whether you’ve been around bomb-making materials:

“You can literally see residue on someone if your glasses emit a dozen different wavelengths of microlasers that illuminate clothing in real time and give off a signature of what was absorbed or reflected.”

That’s pretty amazing, chemical spectrometry on the fly.  He goes on to talk about distance vision:

“Imagine you have a pair of glasses, and you can just look at a building 50 feet away, 100 feet away, and look right through the building and see someone moving around.”

 Now, you might nor might not like what he’s doing with that, but imagine applying it elsewhere: identifying where people are for rescue, or identifying materials for quality control.

Heck, I’d find it interesting just to augment the camera with infrared and ultraviolet: imagine being able to use the camera on your phone or glasses to see what’s happening at night, e.g. wildlife (tracking coyotes or raccoons, and managing to avoid skunks!).  Night vision, and seeing things that fluoresce under UV would both be really cool additions.

I’d be interested too in having them able to work to enlarge as well, bring small things to light like a magnifying glass or microscope.

It made me think about all the senses we could augment. I was thinking about walking our dogs, and how their olfactory life is much richer than ours.  They are clearly sensing things beyond our olfactory capabilities, and it would be interesting to have some microscent detectors that could track faint traces to track animals (or know which owner is not adequately controlling a dog, ahem).  They could potentially serve as smoke or carbon monoxide detectors also.

Similarly, auditory enhancement: could we hear things fainter than our ears detect, or have them serve as a stethoscope?  Could we detect far off cries for help that our ears can’t? Of course, that could be misused, too, to eavesdrop on conversations.  Interesting ethical issues come in.

And we’ve already heard about the potential to measure one’s movement, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and maybe even blood sugar, to track one’s health.  The fit bands are getting smarter and more capable.

There is the possibility for other things we personally can’t directly track: measuring ambient temperatures quantitatively, and air pressure are both already possible and in some devices.  The thermometer could be a health and weather guide, and a barometer/altimeter would be valuable for hiking in addition to weather.

The combination of reporting these could be valuable too.  Sensor nets, where the data from many micro sensors are aggregated have interesting possibilities. Either with known combinations, such as aggregating temperature and air pressure  help with weather, or machine learning  where for example we include sensitive motion detectors,  and might be able to learn to predict earthquakes like supposedly animals can.  Sounds too could be used to triangulate on cries for help, and material detectors could help locate sources of pollution.

We’ve done amazing things with technology, and sensors are both shrinking and getting more powerful. Imagine having sensors scattered about your body in various wearables and integrating that data in known ways, and agreeing for anonymous aggregation for data mining.  Yes, there are concerns, but benefits too.

We can put these together in interesting ways, notifications of things we should pay attention to, or just curiosity to observe things our natural senses can’t detect.  We can open up the world in powerful ways to support being more informed and more productive.  It’s up to us to harness it in worthwhile ways.

17 February 2015

Engage, yea or nay?

Clark @ 8:20 am

In a recent chat, a colleague I respect said the word ‘engagement’  was anathema.  This surprised me, as I’ve been quite outspoken about the need for engagement (for one small example, writing a book about it!).  It may be that the conflict is definitional, for it appeared that my colleague and another respondent viewed engagement as bloating the content, and that’s not what I mean at all. So I thought I lay out what mean when I say engaging, and why I think it’s crucial.

Let’s be clear what I don’t mean.  If you think by engagement it’s adding in extra stuff, we’re using a very different definition of engagement.  It’s not about tarting up uninteresting stuff with ‘fun’ (e.g. racing themed window dressing on knowledge test).  It’s not about putting in unnecessary unrelated imagery, sounds, or anything else.  Heck, the research of Dick Mayer at UCSB shows this actually hinders learning!

So what do I mean?  For one thing, stripping away any ‘nice to have’ or unnecessary info.  Lean is engaging!  You have to focus on what really will help the learners, and in ways that they get.  And they do.  And then help them in the ‘in the ways they get’ bit.

You need contextualized practice.  Engaging is making the context meaningful to the learners.  You need contextualization (e.g research by John Bransford on anchored cognition), but arbitrary contextualization isn’t as good as intrinsically interesting contexts.  This isn’t window dressing, since you need to be doing it anyway, but do it. And in a minimal style (as de Saint-Exupery said: “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add but when there is no longer anything to take away…”).

You want compelling examples. We know that examples lead to better learning (ala, for instance John Sweller’s work on cognitive load), but again, making them meaningful to the learners is critical. This isn’t window dressing, as we need them, but they’re better if they’re well told as intrinsically interesting stories.

Finally, we need to introduce the learning.  Too often we do this in ways that the learner doesn’t get the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).  Learners learn better when they’re emotionally open to the content instead of uninterested. This may be a wee bit more, but we can account for this by getting rid of the usual introductory stuff.  And it’s worth it.

Now, let’s be clear, this is for when we’ve deemed formal learning as necessary. When the audience is practitioners who know what they need and why it’s important, then giving them ‘just the facts’, performance support, is sufficient.  But if it’s new skills they need, when you need a learning experience, then you want to make it engaging. Not extrinsically, but intrinsically.  And that’s not more in quantity, it’s not bloated, it’s more in quality, in minimalism for content and maximal for immersion.

Engaging learning is a good thing, a better thing than not, the right thing.  I’m hoping it’s just definitional, because I can’t see the contrary argument unless there’s confusion over what I mean.  Anyone?

11 February 2015

Rethinking Redux

Clark @ 9:04 am

Last week I wrote about Rethinking, how we might want and need to revise our approaches, and showed a few examples of folks thinking out of the box and upending our cherished viewpoints.  I discovered another one (much closer to ‘home’) and tweeted it out, only to get a pointer to another.  I think it’s worth looking at these two examples that help make the point that maybe it’s time for a rethink of some of our cherished beliefs and practices.

The first was a pointer from a conversation I had with the proprietor of an organization with a new mobile-based coaching engine.  Among the things touted was that much of our thinking about feedback appears to be wrong.  I was given a reference and found an article that indeed upends our beliefs about the benefits of feedback.

The article investigates performance reviews, and finds them lacking, citing one study that found:

“a meta-analysis of 607 studies of performance evaluations and concluded that at least 30% of the performance reviews ended up in decreased employee performance.”

30% decrease performance?  And that’s not including the others that are just neutral.  That’s a pretty bad outcome!  Worse, the Society for Human Resource Management is cited as stating  “90% of performance appraisals are painful and don’t work“.  In short, one of the most common performance instruments is flawed.

As a consequence of tweeting this out, a respondent pointed to another article that he was reminded of.  This one upends the notion that we’re good at rating others’ behavior: “research has demonstrated that each of us is a disturbingly unreliable rater of other people’s performance”.  That is, 360 degree reviews, manager reviews, etc., are fundamentally based upon review by others, and they’re demonstrably bad at it.  The responses given have reliable biases that makes the data invalid.

As a consequence, again, we cannot continue as we are:

“we must first stop, take stock, and admit to ourselves that the systems we currently use to reveal our people only obscure them”

This is just like learning styles: there’s no reliable data that it works, and the measurement instrument used is flawed. In short, one of the primary tools for organizational improvement is fundamentally broken.  We’re using industrial age tools in an information age.

What’s a company to do?  The first article quoted Josh Bersin when saying “companies need to focus very heavily on ‘collaboration, professional development, coaching and empowering people to do great things’“.  This is the message of the Internet Time Alliance and an outflow of the Coherent Organization model and the L&D Revolution.  There are alternatives that are more respectful of how people really think, work, and learn, and consequently more effective.  Are you ready to rethink?

#itashare

10 February 2015

The Grail of Effective and Engaging Learning Experiences

Clark @ 8:08 am

There’s a considerable gap between what we can be doing, and what we are doing.  When you look at what’s out there, we see that there are several way in which we fall short of the mark.  While there are many dimensions that could be considered, for the sake of simplicity let’s characterize the two important ones as effectiveness of our learning and the engagement of the experience.  And I want to characterize where we are and where we could be, and the gaps we need to bridge.

GrailEffectiveEngagingLearningIf we map the space, we see that the lower left is the space of low engagement and low effectiveness.  Too much elearning resides there.  Now, to be fair, it’s easy to add engaging media and production values, so the space of typical elearning does span from low to high engagement. Moving up the diagram, however, towards increasing effectiveness, is an area that’s less populated.  The red line separates the undesirable areas from the space we’d like to start hitting, where we begin to have some modicum of both effectiveness and engagement, moving towards the upper right.  This space is relatively sparsely populated, I’m afraid.  And while there are instances of content that do increase the effectiveness, there’s little that really hits the ultimate goal, the holy grail, with a fully integrated effective and engaging experience is achieved.

How do we move in the right direction? I’ve talked before about trying to hit the sweet spot of maximal effectiveness within pragmatic constraints.  Certainly from an effectiveness standpoint, you should be looking at the components of the Serious eLearning Manifesto.  To get effective learning, you need a number of elements, for instance:

  • meaningful practice: practice aligned with the real world task
  • contextualized practice: learning across contexts that support transfer
  • sustained practice: sufficient and increasingly challenging practice to develop the skills to the necessary level
  • spaced practice: practice spread out over time (brains need sleep to learn more than a certain threshold)
  • real world consequences providing feedback coupled with scaffolded reflection
  • model-based guidance: the best guide for practice is a conceptual basis (not rote information)
  • appropriate examples: that show the concepts being applied in context

Some of these elements, also contribute to engagement, as well as others.  Components include:

  • learning-centered contexts: problems learners recognize as important
  • learner-centered contexts: problems learners want to solve
  • emotionally engaging introductions: hooking learners in viscerally as well as cognitively
  • adapted challenge: ramping up the challenge appropriately to avoid both boredom and frustration
  • unpredictability: maintaining the learner’s attention through surprise
  • meaningfulness: learners playing roles they want to be in
  • drama and/or humor

The integration of these elements was the underlying premise behind Engaging Learning, my book on integrating effectiveness and engagement, specifically on making meaningful practice, e.g. serious games.  Serious games are one way to achieve this end, by contextualizing practice as decisions in a meaningful environment and using a game engine to adapt the challenge and providing essentially unlimited practice.

Other approaches achieve much of this effectiveness in different ways. Branching scenarios are powerful approximations to this by showing consequences in context but with limited replay, and so are constructivist and problem-based learning pedagogies. This may sound daunting, but with practice, and some shortcuts, this is doable.

For example, Socratic Arts has a powerful online pedagogy that leverages media and a constructivist pedagogy in a relatively simple framework. The learner is given ‘assignments’ that mirror real world tasks, via emails or videos of characters playing roles such as a boss.  The outputs required similarly mimic work products you might find in this area. Scaffolding is available in a couple of ways. For one, there are guidelines about Videos of experts and documents are available as resources, to support the learner in getting the best outcome.  While it’s low on fancy visual design, it’s effective because it’s closely aligned to the needed skills post-learning.  And the cognitive challenge is pitched at the right level to engage the intellect, if not the aesthetics.  This is a cost-effective balance.

The work I did with the Wadhwani Foundation hit a slightly different spot in trying to get to the grail.  I didn’t have the ability to work quite as tightly with the SMEs from the get-go, and we didn’t have the ability to simulate the hands-on tasks as well as we’d like,  but we did our best to infer real tasks and used low-tech simulations and scenarios to make it effective.  We did use more media, animations and contextualized videos, to make the experience more engaging and effective as well.

The point being that we can start making learning more effective and engaging in practical ways. We need to make it effective, or why bother?  We should make it engaging, to optimize the outcomes and not insult our learners. And we can.  So why don’t we?

5 February 2015

Agile Bay Area #LNDMeetup Mindmap

Clark @ 8:05 am

I’ve been interested in process, so I attended this month’s Bay Area Learning Design Meetup that showcased LinkedIn’s work on Agile using Scrum for learning design. It was very nice of them to share the specifics of their process, and while there were more details than time permitted to cover, it was a great beginning to understand the differences.

Basically, a backlog is kept of potential new projects.  They’re prioritized and a subset is chosen as the basis of the sprint and put on the board.  Then for two weeks they work on hitting the elements on the board, with a daily standup meeting to present where they’re at and synchronize.  At the end they demo to the stakeholders and reflect.  As part of the reflection, they’re supposed to change something for the next iteration.

There’re different roles: a project owner who’s the ‘client’ in a sense (and a relation to who may be the end client).  There is a Scrum master who’s responsible for facilitating the group through the steps, and then the team, which should be small but at least represent all the necessary roles to execute whatever is being accomplished.

When I asked about scope, they said that they’ve found they can do about 100 story points (which are empirical) in a sprint, and they may distribute that across some elearning, some job aids, whatever.  They didn’t seem too eager to try to quantify that relative to other known metrics, and I understand it’s hard, particularly in the time they had.  Here’s the Mindmap:

(null)

 

Allen Interactions also discussed their SAM project (which I know and like), but the mind map didn’t match too well to their usual diagram (only briefly shown at the end), and I ran out of time trying to remedy. It’s better just to look at the diagram ;).

 

3 February 2015

Rethinking

Clark @ 7:58 am

(in the future)
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies? Or hot fudge?

Dr. Agon: Those were thought to be unhealthy, precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.

In Woody Allen’s Sleeper about someone who wakes up in the future, one of the jokes is that all the things we thought were true are turned on their head.  I was talking with my colleague Jay Cross in terms of why we’re not seeing more uptake of the opportunities for L&D to move out of the industrial age, and one of the possible explanations is satisfaction with the status quo. And I was reminded of several articles I’ve read that support the value of rethinking.

In Sweden, on principled reasons they decided that the model of prosecuting the prostitute wasn’t fair. She was, they argued, a victim. Instead, they decided to punish the solicitation of the service, a complete turn around from the previous approach.  It has reduced sex trafficking, for one outcome. Other countries are now looking at their model and some have already adopted it.

In Portugal, which was experiencing problems with drugs, they took the radical step of decriminalizing them, and setting them up with treatment.  While it’s not a panacea, it has not led to the massive increase in usage that was expected.  Which is a powerful first step.  It may be a small step toward undoing some of the misconceptions about addiction which may be emerging.

And in Denmark there was an experiment in doing away with road signs. The premise was that folks with regulations will trust the regulations to work. If you remove them, they have to go back to assessing the situation, and that they’ll drive safer.  It appears, indeed, to be the case.

I could go on: the food pyramid, cubicles… more and more ideas are being shown to be misguided if not out and out wrong.  And the reason I raise this is to suggest that complacency about anything, accepting the received wisdom, may not be helpful.  Patti Shank recently wrote about the burden of having an informed opinion, and I think we need to take ownership of our beliefs, and I think that’s right.

There are lots of approaches to get out of the box: appreciative inquiry, positive deviance, double loop learning, the list goes on.  Heck, there’s even the silly and overused but apt cliche about the definition of insanity. The point being that regular reflection is part of being a learning organization.   You need to be looking at what you’re doing, what others are doing, and what others are saying.  Continual improvement is part of the ongoing innovation that today’s organization needs to thrive.

Yes, we can’t query everything, but if we have an area of responsibility, e.g. in charge of learning strategy, we owe it to know what  alternative approach might be. And we certainly should be looking at what we’re doing and what impact it’s having.  Measuring just efficiency instead of impact?  Being an order taker and not investigating the real cause?  Not looking at the bigger picture?  Ahem.  I am positing, via the Revolution,  that L&D isn’t doing near what it could and should, and we are via the Manifesto that what it is doing, it is doing badly.  So, what’s the response?  I’ve done the research to suggest that there’s a need for a rethink, and I’m trying to foster it. So where do we go from here?  Where do you go from here?  Steak, anyone?

#itashare

28 January 2015

What I do, don’t do, and why

Clark @ 8:51 am

My background is in learning technology design, leveraging a deep background (read: Ph.D.) in cognition, and long experience with technology.  I have worked as a learning game designer/developer, researcher and academic, project leader on advanced applications, program manager, and more.  More recently, I’ve been working with many different types of organizations including not-for-profits, Fortune 500, small-medium enterprises, government, education, and more with workshops, project deliverables, strategic consulting, writing, and more.

This crosses formal learning, mobile learning, serious games, performance support, content systems, social and informal learning, and more.  I reckon there’s a benefit to 30+ years of being fortunate enough to be at the cutting edge, and I work hard to maintain currency with developments in learning, technology, and organizational needs.I like to think I’m pretty good at it, and I am for hire.  I’ve worked in most of the obvious ways: fixed-fee deliverables when we can define a scope, hourly/daily rates when it’s uncertain, and on a retainer basis to keep my expertise ‘on tap’.

What I have not done, is work on a commission basis. That is, I don’t push someone’s solution on you for a cut of the action. I’ve cut a few such deals in the early days, particularly for long-term clients/partners, but to no avail.  And I’m fine with that. In fact, that’s now my stance.

There are reasons for this both principled, and pragmatic. On principle, I want to remain able to say Solution X is the best, as I truly believe it to be true, and not be swayed that Solution Y would offer me some financial reward.  I believe my independence is in my clients best interests.  This holds true in systems, vendors, individuals, whatever.  I want you to be able to trust what I say, and know that it’s coming from my expertise, not some other influence.  When you get my expert opinion, it is to your needs alone.  And, pragmatically, I’m not a salesperson, it’s not in my nature.

I also don’t design solutions and outsource development. I have trusted partners I can work with, so I don’t need solicitations to show me your skills.  I’m sure your team is awesome too, but I don’t want to take the time to vet your abilities, and I certainly wouldn’t represent them without scrutiny. When I have needs, I’ll reach out.

So I welcome hearing from you when you want some guidance on reviewing your processes, assessing or designing your strategy, ramping up your capabilities, considering markets, looking for collateral, and more. This is as true for vendors as other organizations.  But don’t expect me to learn about your solutions (particularly for free), and flog them to others.   Fair enough?  Am I missing something?

27 January 2015

70:20:10 and the Learning Curve

Clark @ 8:09 am

My colleague Charles Jennings recently posted on the value of autonomous learning (worth reading!), sparked by a diagram provided by another ITA colleague, Jane Hart (that I also thought was insightful). In Charles’ post he also included an IBM diagram that triggered some associations.

So, in IBM’s diagram, they talked about: the access phase where learning is separate, the integration where learning is ‘enabled’ by work, and the on-demand phase where learning is ‘embedded’. They talked about ‘point solutions’ (read: courses) for access, then blended models for integration, and dynamic models for on demand. The point was that the closer to the work that learning is, the more value.

However, I was reminded of Fits & Posner’s model of skill acquisition, which has 3 phases of cognitive, associative, and autonomous learning. The first, cognitive, is when you benefit from formal instruction: giving you models and practice opportunities to map actions to an explicit framework. (Note that this assumes a good formal learning design, not rote information and knowledge test!)  Then there’s an associative stage where that explicit framework is supported in being contextualized and compiled away.  Finally, the learner continues to improve through continual practice.

I was initially reminded of Norman & Rumelhart’s accretion, restructuring, and tuning learning mechanisms, but it’s not quite right. Still, you could think of accreting the cognitive and explicitly semantic knowledge, then restructuring that into coarse skills that don’t require as much conscious effort, until it becomes a matter of tuning a finely automated skill.

721LearningCurveThis, to me, maps more closely to 70:20:10, because you can see the formal (10) playing a role to kick off the semantic part of the learning, then coaching and mentoring (the 20) support the integration or association of the skills, and then the 70 (practice, reflection, and personal knowledge mastery including informal social learning) takes over, and I mapped it against a hypothetical improvement curve.

Of course, it’s not quite this clean. While the formal often does kick off the learning, the role of coaching/mentoring and the personal learning are typically intermingled (though the role shifts from mentee to mentor ;). And, of course, the ratios in 70:20:10 are only a framework for rethinking investment, not a prescription about how you apply the numbers.  And I may well have the curve wrong (this is too flat for the normal power law of learning), but I wanted to emphasize that the 10 only has a small role to play in moving performance from zero to some minimal level, that mentoring and coaching really help improve performance, and that ongoing development requires a supportive environment.

I think it’s important to understand how we learn, so we can align our uses of technology to support them in productive ways. As this suggests, if you care about organizational performance, you are going to want to support more than the course, as well as doing the course right.  (Hence the revolution. :)

#itashare

21 January 2015

Wearables?

Clark @ 8:22 am

In a discussion last week, I suggested that the things I was excited about included wearables. Sure enough, someone asked if I’d written anything about it, and I haven’t, much. So here are some initial thoughts.

I admit I was not a Google Glass ‘Explorer’ (and now the program has ended).  While tempted to experiment, I tend not to spend money until I see how the device is really going to make me more productive.  For instance, when the iPad was first announced, I didn’t want one. Between the time it was announced and it was available, however, I figured out how I’d use it produce, not just consume.   I got one the first day it came out.  By the same rationale, I got a Palm Pilot pretty early on, and it made me much more effective.   I haven’t gotten a wrist health band, on the other hand, though I don’t think they’re bad ideas, just not what I need.

The point being that I want to see a clear value proposition before I spend my hard earned money.  So what am I thinking in regards to wearables? What wearables do I mean?  I am talking wrist devices, specifically.  (I  may eventually warm up to glasses as well, when what they can do is more augmented reality than they do now.)  Why wrist devices?  That’s what I’m wrestling with, trying to conceptualize what is a more intuitive assessment.

Part of it, at least, is that it’s with me all the time, but in an unobtrusive way.  It supports a quick flick of the wrist instead of pulling out a whole phone. So it can do that ‘smallest info’ in an easy way. And, more importantly, I think it can bring things to my attention more subtly than can a phone.  I don’t need a loud ringing!

I admit that I’m keen on a more mixed-initiative relationship than I currently have with my technology.  I use my smartphone to get things I need, and it can alert me to things that I’ve indicated I’m interested in, such as events that I want an audio alert for.  And of course, for incoming calls.  But what about for things that my systems come up with on their own?  This is increasingly possible, and again desirable.  Using context, and if a system had some understanding of my goals, it might be able to be proactive. So imagine you’re out and about, and your watch reminds you that while you were  here you wanted to pick up something nearby, and provide the item and location.  Or to prep for that upcoming meeting and provide some minimal but useful info.   Note that this is not what’s currently on offer, largely.  We already have geofencing to do some, but right now for it to happen you largely have to pull out your phone or have it give a largely intrusive noise to be heard from your pocket or purse.

So two things about this: one why the watch and not the phone, and the other, why not the glasses? The watch form factor is, to me, a more accessible interface to serve as a interactive companion. As I suggested, pulling it out of the pocket, turning it on, going through the security check (even just my fingerprint), adds more of an overhead than I necessarily want.  If I can have something less intrusive, even as part of a system and not fully capable on it’s own, that’s OK.  Why not glasses? I guess it’s just that they seem more unnatural.  I am accustomed to having information on my wrist, and while I wear glasses, I want them to be invisible to me.  I would love to have a heads-up display at times, but all the time would seem to get annoying. I’ll stretch and suggest that the empirical result that most folks have stopped wearing them most of the time bears up my story.

Why not a ring, or a pendant, or?  A ring seems to have too small an interface area.  A pendant isn’t easily observable. On my wrist is easy for a glance (hence, watches).  Why not a whole forearm console?  If I need that much interface, I can always pull out my phone.  Or jump to my tablet. Maybe I will eventually will want an iBracer, but I’m not yet convinced. A forearm holster for my iPhone?  Hmmm…maybe too geeky.

So, reflecting on all this, it appears I’m thinking about tradeoffs of utility versus intrusion.  A wrist devices seems to fit a sweet spot in an ecosystem of tech for the quick glance, the pocket access, and then various tradeoffs of size and weight for a real productivity between tablets and laptops.

Of course, the real issue is whether there’s sufficient information available through the watch that it makes a value proposition. Is there enough that’s easy to get to that doesn’t require a phone?  Check the temperature?  Take a (voice) note?  Get a reminder, take a call, check your location? My instinct is that there is.  There are times I’d be happy to not have to take my phone (to the store, to a party) if I could take calls on my wrist, do minimal note taking and checking, and navigating.  For the business perspective, also have performance support whether push or pull.  I don’t see it for courses, but for just-in-time…  And contextual.

This is all just thinking aloud at this point.  I’m contemplating the iWatch but don’t have enough information as of yet.  And I may not feel the benefits outweigh the costs. We’ll see.

20 January 2015

Getting strategic means getting scientific

Clark @ 8:13 am

I’ve been on a rant about learning design for a few posts, but I ended up talking about how creating a better process is part of getting strategic.  The point was that our learning design has to embody what’s know about how we learn, e.g. a learning engineering.  And it occurs to me that getting our processes structured to align with how we work is part of a bigger picture of how our strategies have to similarly be informed.

So, as part of the L&D Revolution I argue we need to have, I’m suggesting organizations, and consequently L&D, need to be aligned with how we think, work, and learn. So our formal learning initiatives (used only when they are really needed) need to be based upon learning science. And performance support similarly needs to reflect how we process information, and, importantly, things we don’t do well and need support for.  The argument for informal and social learning similarly comes from our natural approaches, and similarly needs to provide facilitation for where things can and do go wrong.

And, recursively, L&D’s processes need to similarly reflect what we do, and don’t, do well.  So, just as we should provide support for performers to execute, communicate, collaborate, and continue to improve (why L&D needs to become P&D), we need to make sure that we practice what we preach.  And a scientific method means we need to measure what we’re doing, not just efficiency, but effectiveness.

It’s time that L&D gets out of the amateur approach, and starts getting professional. Which means understanding the organization’s goals, rejecting requests that are nonsensical, examining what we do, using technology in sophisticated ways (*cough* content engineering *cough*), and more.  We need to know about how we think, work, and learn, and apply it to what we do. We’re about people, after all, so it’s about time we understood the science in our field, and quit thinking that our existing practices (largely from an industrial age) are inherently relevant. We must be scrutable, and that means we must scrutinize.  Time to get to work.

#itashare

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