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

6 July 2009

Web 2.0 Learning Skills

Clark @ 4:31 PM

The Learning Circuit’s blog big question of the month asks:

In a Learning 2.0 world, where learning and performance solutions take on a wider variety of forms and where churn happens at a much more rapid pace, what new skills and knowledge are required for learning professionals?

I have to say that there’s a lot in this.  Taking a performance ecosystem approach, we also need to recognize that the responsibility of the learning role is more than just courses, it’s performance support, social/informal learning, content models, mobile, and more.  How does this play out?

For one, it’s a shift in perspective.  The responsibility needs to be for all organizational learning, not just formal learning.  Who better?  This means understanding information design, usability, and information architecture as well as instructional design.  Also including for mobile, not just classroom and desktop.  Thus, we have expanded content development skills.

There is more, however. As my colleagues and I have been talking, it’s also clear that the role of the learning designer will likely move from exclusively a content developer to likely more time spent as a learning facilitator.  If we start having user-generated content, while we might occasionally be formalizing that, we’ll also need to be facilitating the learning process itself. We’ll have to be understanding how to nurture groups into cohesion, communication, and collaboration: how to catalyze discussions, how to maintain commitment, how to neutralize negativity, and and how to reach out to those who might feel alienated.

As a consequence, we’ll also have to understand organizational culture, the drivers and barriers to individuals feeling safe and valued to contribute. We’ll have to understand incentives, how to moderate behavior, how to align  vision.  It may not be completely within our power to address, but we have to know, recognize, and nurture useful cultural components, and when and how to point out problems to those who can change factors.

We won’t, for at least the short- and medium-term, be able to assume individual learning skills, also.  We’ll have to know what individual and group learning skills are, make those explicit, assess and nurture them, and value them. It will mean letting go, too, as Jane Bozarth points out.

Finally, we’ll have to be smarter about organizational goals, because all of this can’t immediately be done completely for everything, so we’ll have to prioritize.  We’ll have to earn the right to take on these responsibilities by showing that we know how they contribute to the organizational success.

If you don’t get this, we should talk. Developing these skills is critical, and the time to get moving is now.  Is your organization ready?


  1. […] Clark Quinn: Web 2.0 Learning Skills […]

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  3. […] Michelle Martin) required for staff in today’s corporate learning functions.  Clark Quinn addresses the skill requirements for what he calls 'learning ecosystems', essentially the same concept as the learning environments that Josh and I have both written […]

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