This one may get me in trouble.
I recently wrote an article titled, “Training Is Broken: There. We Said It.” It drew some wild feedback. A colleague of mine even accused me of being “anti-training,” after appearing to have spent most of my career defending sound instruction.
Before I head in the same direction, let me start with a disclaimer: I highly value and advocate learning within an organization. It has been my passion for as long as I can remember.
My concern of late has been that I’ve seen a growing separation between what I have been taught to design and deliver as instructionally sound learning and what the increasingly volatile world we live in will tolerate and pay for.
My early experience with this issue is teaching me that dramatic change is coming in the way many learning organizations go about doing business. Let me throw a question out for debate: Should our emphasis shift from learning that is instructionally sound to learning that is more instructionally relevant?
Let me define what I mean by “instructionally relevant.” The dictionary defines “relevant” as “bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent.” Our learners might argue that although many of the learning assets we offer are highly instructive and informational, not all the information taught or the context in which we offer it has a direct bearing on their situations. Many assets do a great job of informing, but not all transfer to relevant behavior, productivity and impact.
Here are a few examples. For years, debate has raged about just how effective it is to bring learners into classrooms for days on end when research shows — and many learners have told us — they forget a high percentage of what’s taught by the time they return to their desks. Although we hoped e-learning would be the first truly just-in-time learning environment, many organizations have had less then stunning utilization numbers and learning uptake with their LMSs and e-learning investments. User-generated content and performance support tools have become powerful frontline productivity tools for many learners; yet, much of this content never sees a task analysis, content editor or instructional designer.
Not all of our efforts in the past or the examples mentioned above are bad, but the times we live in challenge us to make every learning dollar and intervention count. It may require us to reprioritize how we look at these offerings. Can we afford to design, deliver and measure learning as we have always done in the past, or is it time to take a new perspective on how we serve our organizations? If instructional relevance takes priority, it will fundamentally change the way we look at learning and present us with amazing opportunities.
The first thing to examine is our existing toolset. If we judged every learning asset we offer against an instructionally relevant barometer, the order in which we prioritize, design and deliver learning would change dramatically. An instructionally relevant approach would challenge us to move learning and support closer to our learners than ever before.
It might cause us to view the classroom, whether face to face or virtual, as a learning asset of last resort rather than the stable of our learning offerings. User-generated content might become our primary development engine, and instructional designers and trainers could act as content aggregators and facilitators rather than developers and owners of most of our learning content.
Performance support frameworks may become the leading vehicle by which learning is accessed, with all other assets being made available based on level of need and degree of learning required.
I don’t have all the answers, but I’m seeing and hearing on a daily basis about a fundamental shift in how learning will be consumed, budgeted and measured. Assets that once could stand on their instructional merit alone are now being challenged by assets that have a direct and relevant impact on productivity, revenue and an organization’s ability to survive. Is our industry open to the debate and willing to take the lead?Filed under: Technology