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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Does the discussion/debate do any good?

I just saw a great comment from Mark Oehlert around my post: Informal Learning - Harold Tells Us Where To Put It - Now What. In the comment he says relative to discussing Informal Learning:
P.S. Can I just say that I love this debate and think that it is serving our
industry well and that we need more of this and we need it at conferences, up on
stage in front of thousands of people.

This comment really struck me, because one of the questions that I struggle with all the time is whether spending time speaking/writing/talking about these issues does any good?

If you've attended Training, Performance, eLearning conferences over the past 10 years, I'm sure you've had the same experience of seeing the same presentations year-after-year. Many of them talk about:
  • We need to focus on business outcomes and performance - not butts in seats.
  • We need to look beyond training to other kinds of interventions.
But, the rest of the sessions will be about "Adding Interactivity" to your courseware. Getting your LMS in place so you can count butts in seats. How to build your eTraining more cheaply. Basically, how to do more of the same. If you look back at my Hot Topics in Training - A Crude (but mildly interesting) Analysis, you can see this. At least Games and Simulations were new intervention types getting more discussion.

So, while some of the speakers talk about new approaches (e.g., Marc Rosenberg - Rosenberg's Beyond eLearning - Is that eLearning 2.0?) the reality is that 98% of attendees are going to go home and do the exact same stuff as before.

So, I seriously question Mark's statement:
  • Do we need people talking about this at conferences?
  • Does it do any good?
  • What can we do to have greater impact on the practice of learning (as opposed to the rhetoric)?

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