Friday, June 22, 2012

Want People to Learn? Get Them to Collaborate

Of all the sections in my book on critical skills learning professionals need to know now, “enterprise 2.0 collaboration” seems like the most unlikely “critical” skill. However, as the speed of business keeps increasing, learning pros are having to adjust their goals, and the skills they need to fulfill them.
Where once L&D people deliveredlearning to employees on a schedule, today, they have to focus on enabling people to work together so they can learn from one another, when they need to. That’s where enterprise 2.0 tools come in. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Poll: What Is Your Most Important Source of Learning?

As I conduct research on social learning, I repeatedly find statements that claim most of what we learn, we learn informally and/or socially. These terms can mean a lot of things. Informal learning could mean reading a book. Social learning could mean observing someone else walking into the street without looking and getting hit by a bus...causing you to learn, "Don't walk in front of a bus."

I also come across statements that say that even though people learn socially, organizations spend most of their budgets on formal training. From professional experience, I know this to be true.

However, I want to just take a temperature check with a non-scientific poll on Linkedin. The question: What is your most important source of learning? Please take the poll, and if one of the choices does not suit you, please comment below in the poll and list your most important source of learning.

Thank you for participating.

Three Simple Ways to Get Started in Social Learning

Social learning a lot of us hear a lot these days — we know, vaguely, what it is, and we know that it’s happening, whether we like it or not, every day. And yet the vast majority of our money and energy goes toward formal training programs, not these social, off-the-cuff initiatives. Why is that?
For one, formal training is what we know best, so it makes sense that learning and development professionals gravitate toward it. 
[Read More]

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Call for a new Job Title - Learning Experience Designer (LxD)

Traditional learning theory is based on the premise that learning is an individual pursuit reliant on a top-down, teacher-centered approach that requires proper instructional design. This is becoming a less important model for how people learn, as we better understand social learning. Furthermore, as enterprise 2.0 technologies make it easier for people in organizations to connect with each other, it is also easier to take advantage of a social theory of learning whereby people learn through participation with each other in the pursuit of a specific practice. This is the foundation of Wenger's work on Communities of Practice.

If it is true that learning is less reliant on a top-down, teacher-centered approach that requires proper instructional design, why do we need instructional designers? 

We don't.

What we need are learning experience designers. Just as we have user experience designers (UX or UXD), I am making a call to action and an attempt to coin a new job title and abbreviation: Learning Experience Design (LX or LXD). 

After all, shouldn't we be designing activities and experiences in which people can learn something valuable and worthwhile? Shouldn't we treat people like adults and allow them to have more say in what they learn and how they learn it? Our job is not to instruct. Instruction is something against which people can rebel. Our job is to enable learning, something adults choose to do on their own. 

User experience design is not about forcing a design on people any more than learning experience design is about forcing instruction on people. User experience design is about designing things for how people naturally work. Learning experience design is about designing learning for how people naturally learn...through participation in the pursuit of a specific practice. 

So...do you want to be an instructional designer or a learning experience designer (LX)? Do you think the abbreviation for the craft should be LX or LXD? Comment below.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Instructional Designers: Think Like a Software Developer


Lately, I have been a little obsessed with speeding up the instructional design process. As I am sure many of you have also experienced, I have grown frustrated with the gap between how much learning is needed and how much learning can be designed using existing methods and resources.

Though I do not expect (nor will I seek) additional resources, I have been doing a lot of reading on software development methods. No, let's not go crazy here. I have not been reading about how to write code, but about development methods. My goal is to learn from what good software developers do...and that is to ship code fast. I owe a lot of this thinking to Theresa Welbourne's work on FAST HRM in which she has argued that HR professionals need to learn from AGILE programming to speed up development cycles of anything from launching a new compensation program to a new HRIS system. She has even conducted research that shows evidence that business partners in organizations prefer speed to accuracy. 

Of course, speed *and* accuracy is preferred, but that is not always possible. So if a choice must be made, speed should be chosen. And if you think about how software is released, bugs are a part of the game. No software is perfect. It comes with bugs. But that's OK, because talented software developers, using sound processes, listen to user feedback and update the software to fix bugs and enhance features. 

So I ask myself, why can't instructional designers think like software developers when they design and release new training courses? After thinking about this question, I start thinking, "how" can an instructional designer think like a software developer?  What methods that software developers use can instructional designers use to design, develop, and implement learning designs? 

In my research, I am finding methods that could be useful, and I am drafting a more complete blog post on the subject. I think this could be a great topic for a conference session at Learning 3.0 and ASTD Techknowledge. I expect to write this post in early June, so stay tuned. 

Comment below if you think there is a need to speed up the instructional design process.