I don’t think I’ve made a habit of it, but it occurs to me that it might be good to reflect a little on this past year. In particular, I want to revisit the areas I’ve been focusing on. There’ve been some emergent themes, and it’s worth it (to me, at least ;) to think a bit more about them. So here’s what I’m thinking about while reflecting on 2021.
Obviously, the cognitive and learning sciences have been a theme. The publication of my book on learning science this year was a catalyst, as you might expect. In it, I covered not only the basics, but some of the extended areas. These extended areas include thinking about situated learning and the importance of context, distributed cognition and the use of external representations, and an area new for me, embodied cognition including gesture and motion. Annie Murphy Paul’s The Extended Mind covers these nicely.
Another topic is talking about engagement (including four posts on the topic, starting here). Which I view as the complement to the learning science side. I think of learning experience design as the elegant integration of learning science and engagement, and am continually working to create a definitive approach to the latter as I’ve done with the former. (Stay tuned.)
Coping with change is another recurrent theme. As we are facing increasing chaos, the ability of organizations to adapt requires innovation. Which, really, is a form of learning. I argue further that it’s an area L&D should be engaged in. Agility will be a critical differentiator for organizations, and it’s an opportunity to be more central to organizational success.
I’ve also been on about how the transformation organizations need shouldn’t start with digital. I think this is an increasingly important realization in this era of change. To be successful, organizations need to work in coherence with how their people think, work, and learn. If you get that right, digitization can facilitate outcomes. However, if you digitize some of the old approaches that are holdovers from prior eras, you can limit the effectiveness of the investments.
Reviewing my past year’s posts, there’s a mix of other topics. I’ve continued my usual ‘takedowns’ of myths, shared thoughts on education, and unpacking nuances of learning design. A mixed bag, but then this blog is about my various ideas. So that’s my current reflections.
Take note, there will be some changes to announce come the new year. Until then, please have a safe and happy holiday season, and best wishes for the new year.