Monthly Archives: February 2011

J.R.Hartley who?

I just had to write a little blog post about the new advert for Yellow Pages. Or, rather, Yell.com. Some of the old adverts have seen somewhat of a resurgence lately and wonder whether it’s a little like those comfort foods that have also made a comeback in these days of recession. I hear Arctic roll is back in vogue (yeah I know – beats me too, although I did rather like it as a nipper).

The advert took me back to a grandad-like, kind looking old gent, patiently trudging around all the bookshops looking for ‘fly-fishing’ by J.R. Hartley. (bear with me on this…. ). After a fruitless day, the kind old gentleman returns, forlorn, to his home where his daughter comforts him with kind words, a cup of tea and the Yellow Pages. There they let their fingers do the walking (don’t you just love good advertising?) and finally hit home. The kind old gentleman places and order and they ask for his name “oh yes, my name…. it’s J…. R….. Hartley”

Yes all that from my little grey cells. The power of a really good advertising message – remembered often long after the product has gone.

This evening I saw the ‘remake’. I’ve found it on YouTube for you (no I’m not getting paid by Yell.com) and it made me smile. Where’s this going? Well, it was the soundbite line that struck a chord…”what we do hasn’t changed – just the way we do it”.

For those of you who might know me know I’m a little like a policeman or a doctor in that I’m always ‘on-duty’. That is, I see connections with learning and new technology for learning almost everywhere. This short little advert just made me think how what we do or need to do for effective learning actually doesn’t change. We still need to collaborate, observe, read, listen, apply, reflect and analyse but now we just have different, up-dated, quicker, more efficient tools to do them with.

Ok, ok… here’s the original just for you old nostalgic sentimental readers out there.

Replying to Online courses must die!

I just love Twitter even though it’s sucking the life-blood out of that work/life balance of mine (what work/life balance my husband says). Anyway, last night I was catching up on the stream peering through my blurry eyes when I came across this super blog post by the e-Learning Provocateur (@ryantracey). The title is alone ‘Online courses must die‘ warrants a read. It’s an old post (in social media terms anyway – going back to July last year) but no less topical for that. It certainly lives up to the title of the blog – provocative.

It’s full of very thought provoking stuff and matches my own ideals one of which is using authoring tools for the right job. So often they’re the proverbial hammers cracking nuts with equal devastation.

I’ve popped a reply on Ryan’s post but it has piqued my interest that I may well explore some of those points further.

Read and enjoy!

Content v Technology

Since the Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition, there have been some great blog posts pondering on the results and looking to the future. I was also interested in the short Voxpops interviews (Voxpop1, Voxpop2) with a selected few from the event. The question posed to interviewees was “What changes would YOU like to see in L&D for 2011?” I was going to do a short review of what people said in their interviews but instead thought I’d just capture the main points in the Wordle you can see above.

It’s interesting that the advice for L&D is to focus on the learning, the learners, the business goals, performance based.  Surely that shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone and it’s a shame that we needed reminding.  There was a lot of references to the learning being effective.  Quality certainly should be at the heart of developing our staff.  In order to produce quality learning we need to make sure the learning is relevant, learner-centred, bite-sized with plenty of practical application and which can be assessed in a more realistic method that handing out quiz questions no matter how you dress them up.  It’s our responsibility to help people learn to do their jobs well which has a direct effect on the bottom line.  We shouldn’t be teaching them how to pass tests – where’s the learning in that?  Give them work-based projects instead.  Help them feel they are contributing.

At the same time as calling for more effective learning, there was also a call for it to be more efficient and to make use of more online learning.  The danger of taking our effective courses online is we may leave out what makes it effective in the first place.  That’s all the learner-centred stuff.  The conversations, the group work, the feedback, the questioning, the collaboration.  Where will that all go?  So they become efficient but now their ineffective.  Efficient without efficacy actually leads to more inefficiency.  Without good quality learning, people won’t learn well (or at all in some cases).  So what happens?  They make more mistakes in their work and/or have to retrain.  If they retrain using the same ineffective materials as before, what’s going to happen?  Yep – a never ending circle.

What’s encouraging is the recognition that training – the formal stuff – is only  a small part of the development of individuals in the workforce but it’s what happens after they’ve had the formal training that really embeds the learning.  We’ve heard a lot about formal training accounting for only 20% of our knowledge on the job. The rest being attributed to informal learning.  However, there’s a little more to it than that as Clive Shepherd points out in his ‘The New Learning Architect’ but performance support will be the cement that makes the learning stick after the formal events have long past.

What I also found interesting from the Voxpops (considering we were at a the Learning technologies) conference was the low key references to using technology for learning.  Oh yes, there was a whole floor at least dedicated to technology but when speaking to the L&D people not the vendors, there was little emphasis on using new media or more technology in their solutions.  James Clay’s post ‘Focus on the technology or not’ puts it brilliantly.  He says:

… it is vital that practitioners are aware of the potential and availability of technology. When they know what is available and importantly what it is capable of then they can apply technological solutions to their learning problems.

L&D should more than capable of designing an effective solution that meets adult learners’ needs but a more efficient delivery means the more likely it has to include new technologies thus creating a huge skills gap. It’s no longer about content versus technology but about content AND technology. In this media filled world where people are always connected and will find it very difficult to avoid using technology to communicate, work, rest and play we can no longer separate the two. We need to think of the technology as the enabler. L&D really need to become more tech savvy and keep up to date with research. They need to try things out and exercise their creation and innovation muscle. Think about using technology not normally considered a learning tool for a learning activity (see Milo). I know we shouldn’t try and shoe-horn a particular piece of technology into a learning solution just for the sake of it but if people are already using the technology in their working or personal time, isn’t it about time we can help them continue to use them for learning.

To quote again to James’ post:

you have to start from somewhere and by explaining the potential that learning technologies offer, you are starting from a good place that will open minds to future potential and possibilities

Overall, the message I got from listening to the VoxPops was that following a logical blended approach to designing learning solutions in organisations is definitely the way L&D can become more than just the ‘training department’.  L&D can become the cement that holds the organisation together by becoming more cultivators of learning.  Helping learners learn for themselves and providing more performance support.  By increasing their knowledge, understanding and skills in using new media tools for more efficient delivery of learning, L&D will ensure their longevity in the organisation by becoming an integral part of the bricks and mortar.  Organisations will pay a high price if they don’t invest more in their L&D professionals.