Category Archives: Learning

Who ya gonna call? Mythbusters

Ghost buster logo on car door

Ghostbusters

When we visit the doctor, we put our trust in their expertise and rely on them to keep at the top of their game. Imagine if, when you complained of suffering from migraines, your doctor recommended a series of bloodletting to relieve the pressure!  Bloodletting was practised by the medical profession using a device (sometimes, using leeches) as recently as 1923! Fortunately, doctors no longer recommend this course of treatment because (unsurprisingly), they realised it didn’t work.

As a learning and development professional, our delegates put their development and skills in our hands; they trust that we have the current skills to help them learn and develop new skills. As with the medical profession, we have a duty to keep up to date, critique, analyse and act on evidence.

The stuff of myths and legend

Dragon sitting on books

Mythological dragon

It’s healthy to question, to never take things at face-value, especially when people rely on our advice and support. I like to do a fair amount of research. Does that make me a Theorist? Hmm, I thought I was more of a Reflector …but I also like to get stuck in and try things out; surely that means I’m an Activist… but… I need some real examples how this might work. Now I’m confused…that would make me a Pragmatist. Help! I have a split personality!

If you value your professional credibility, you will already be keeping up with current debates, thinking and theories. You may have even debated these yourself. Wouldn’t it be great if you could find some evidence one way or the other? But where do you start?

In his book, ‘Millennials, goldfish & other training misconceptions’, Clark Quinn gives you that start you might be looking for.

Clark Quinn looks at three categories:

  1. Learning myths (e.g. tailoring to learning styles etc)
  2. Learning superstitions (e.g. smile-sheets equals evaluation)
  3. Learning misconceptions (e.g. 70-20-10)

It’s a lovely, easy read and is meant as a starting point; it is packed full of citations and references should you wish to delve deeper into the evidence behind the counter arguments. I love that (there’s that Theorist in me again ).

 

The myths

For each myth, Clark Quinn gives a brief description and its appeal. Then he sets out the pros, cons and suggestions on evaluating its validity. Finally, we are given a summary of what the evidence actually says followed by advice on what we should do.

 

The superstitions

Similarly, we read a brief description of each. Clark Quinn then sets out the rationale, why it doesn’t work and what do to instead.

 

The misconceptions

We can easily misunderstand the purposes of certain practices. Here Clark Quinn gives us a counter argument against the brief description of a commonly held belief. He then helps us reconcile, before making suggestions on what we can do.

What I really love about this easy read is that he gives us a handy little summary section where the key points are set out in easy to read tables.

This is a must on your bookshelf. It’s a handy reference and is small enough to carry around with you without taking up too much space or add to the weight in your L&D kit-bag. Ideal for those moments when a debate is about start or you need a quick memory jogger.

This book has re-affirmed some of my own counter arguments for some learning theories and practices that just didn’t sit right with me; I’ve also had some myths and beliefs busted. I’m OK with that. What about you?

An Olympic Online Opportunity

 

 

 

 

At 12:49 on Wednesday 6 July 2005, I was travelling in Staffordshire to a training venue listening for the imminent announcement of who was going to ‘win’ the Olympic Games for 2012.  Now, I’m not a big sports fanatic but I couldn’t help but join in very excitedly with a big ‘WHOOP WHOOP!’ as Jacque Rogge made the announcement ….. LONDON.

Seven years later and it’s nearly here and Olympic fever has begun.  But along with the kudos comes chaos.  Now we’re hearing about all the disruption the Games are going to create.  It’s already started with Olympic organisers creating an Olympic route network meaning roadworks.

With the disruption to day to day business with journeys to work affected, higher than usual annual leave requests, pressures on transport systems and road networks, the advice given in the ‘preparing your business for the games‘ LOC publication to businesses is:

Millions of additional trips are expected on public transport and the road network in London and the UK … This could potentially disrupt your employees’ journeys, business travel, deliveries/collections, and the operations of suppliers, other contractors and freight.  To keep your businesses running, you should aim to reduce the need to travel and make essential journeys at less busy times or by using different modes or routes.

Over the past few months several delegates on my courses have talked about their organisations being encouraged to allow staff to work from home where they’re not needed to be in the office/building.

Of course, this doesn’t just mean problems for day to day working but also day to day training/learning.  Fortunately, if key people in these organisations are on the ball, they will see there is a way around some of this disruption.  Where live conversations are needed to take place, whether it’s to discuss on ongoing project or as part of a planned training course, we have the technology.  We’ve been communicating via e-mail for years.  The concept of collaborating remotely is not new but we’ve yet to embrace the live online environment.  Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown.  Perhaps it’s bad experiences of them in the past.  But now – and I mean now and not in a few months time as an afterthought – is the time to make the most of the technology at our fingertips and start working (and learning) smarter.  If we start investigating as soon as possible how best to engage our live online participants (audience is too passive a word), we’ll be on the winning team by a long shot.

We certainly do have an Olympic opportunity.

Out with old, in with the new

2012Well the first week of a shiny new year has flown by and I thought I’d reflect on my last year’s goals. I didn’t do too badly considering…

My plan to get back into my archery unfortunately didn’t materialise which also meant my plans for a more work/life balance wasn’t quite achieved. However, considering my blogging and professional development are all done in my own time, I’m fairly happy with my achievement. OK’ I didn’t always make my plan of a weekly post but I’ve averaged 3.5 posts a month which isn’t bad.

The last three months of 2011 saw me completely drop off the social media planet. I really can’t put my finger on why. I think I just burnt myself out with the social media scene. My official professional work became more hectic than usual and seeped into my own time (probably a familiar story to others out there) that I found myself abandoning my extra curricular investigations in the world of online learning and learning technologies. My iPhone became a tool for making calls, checking e-mails and taking photos of my beautiful new niece. My iPad started to gather dust on the coffee table. Its only outing a trip to Thailand where it was as invaluable as a Swiss army knife (but that’s another story entirely).I start 2012 with renewed motivation. I’ve made a promise to myself to get back on track and continue with those resolutions I made last year. But in addition I’ve made a promise to myself to make time just for me. After all, as the saying goes, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. And that’s exactly how I felt when I saw out 2011.

With a new year it’s time for a new and more positive outlook professionally too . What changes would I like to see in the year ahead in my profession? I’d like to see more emphasis on how people really learn and less about counting those bums on seats – virtual or otherwise. I’d like to see more acceptance of social tools for learning and working. I’d like to see more effort being put into what makes effective learning online. I’d like to see more asynchronous learning being the norm. I’d like to see more use of learning and collaborating in live online environments when live discussion is considered valuable. I’d like to see face to face interaction used efficiently and when most appropriate and I’d like to see more Learning and Development professionals grab the virtual bull by the horns and start adding to their skills to ensure learning online is as effective as learning in well designed classroom events. Am I expecting too much? It might be easier than you think.

Here’s to a successful 2012.