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.