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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Training Specialist

Saw a post by Matthew Franz - where he tells us - I don't get e-learning 2.0 - and it made me wonder if Franz is a training specialist - who's not looking at more than training as a model for learning. Here's what he said:
I just don't get why folks are trying to lump in wikis, blogs, rss, etc. as "e-learning."

RSS, Blog, Wikis, etc. are fundamental workplace tools in the same way that other tools (office applications, web applications, the Internet etc.) are also tools, but think of the absurdity of making a big deal of Excel as an "e-learning 1.0 tool."

Is it because corporate trainers (I am one now, so I can critique them) are so backward and 2.0-illiterate? Is that why this is a big deal? To me if you make the definition of "e-learning" so expansive (and yes, I realize there is overlap between e-learning and knowledge management but to classify knowledge management activities as learning seem silly) it makes the term almost meaningless. Yes, everything you do should be about learning and creating knowledge, but this is different from Learning with a Big-L and little-l learning. What am I missing here?
I agree with Matthew that there's nothing inherent in these tools that makes them an eLearning tool. You can use them for very practical things all day long that no one would walk by and say - "Hey, that's a learning tool." So, why are they coming up in talks, blog posts, etc. about learning?

When the question is phrased this way, I'd be surprised if Matthew wouldn't be able to talk to these tools in the context of their impact on personal learning and formal learning. When you look at the examples from my blog post that he cites - Examples of eLearning 2.0 - clearly these things are being applied to formal and informal learning opportunities.

I believe what Matthew is questioning (Big-L vs. little l) is whether there is anything that pushes these into the realm where someone who is a learning professional (especially a training specialist) should somehow care more about these tools than anyone else. (Or maybe I'm missing what Matthew is missing.)

My strong belief (see Leading Learning and Developing New Skills) is that learning professionals (even training specialists) actually have an important responsibility here.
  • Learning professionals must be adept in these tools so that we understand how they apply to formal learning settings and in a myriad of personal learning settings.
  • Learning professionals must be actively promoting (through tactical application) their use in our organizations.
And I'm not allow in these views - see Lead the Charge.

Part of what may be at issue here is the continuing question of the Scope of Learning Responsibility where I see Learning (capital L) being responsible for helping knowledge workers be able to do their work (that inherently has learning involved) more effectively, efficiently, accurately, etc. If you look at this from a training specialist standpoint and stop at formal training as your definition of scope, then this stuff is less interesting (but still interesting).

Matthew, like you, I don't see Excel as being all that exciting with it's application to learning. (Side note: If you had said, Google Spreadsheet, then the collaborative and real-time aspects of the application actually have some interesting implications - maybe we would have had a more interesting discussion.) But when you come out and essentially say that there's nothing that interesting about Wikis, Blogs and RSS when it comes to learning or Learning. Well, I'm not sure how that's even a little defensible.

This could be only around definition of the term eLearning - and maybe Matthew defines it as eLearning 1.0 (authored content) - then I guess I would understand why he tells us that he doesn't get eLearning 2.0.


Anonymous said...


Matthew's post and yours highlight both sides of the growing significance in learning professionals down-playing the "visible" technology at the root of Learning 2.0. Our task is one of "selling" and the object of the "sale" is the practical application of said technology in the context of a knowledge worker's work.

I can see the validity of asking why wikis and blogs and RSS and...and... are included in Learning 2.0, but I'm not sure the myriad answers possible are of any consequence. I think the larger more relevant question is "What are the applications of these technologies in the context of the work to be accomplished?"

I've found it more palitable to "hide the pill in the cheese" when introducing a new technology. As an example...instead of having a formal launch of the first Wiki in the organization, send folks to the Wiki with a link and a few instructions to access something resident on the Wiki...maybe even have them add a something Wiki-ish while they're there.

And THEN, after they've used the wiki (eaten the cheese) tell'em about the pill. Have the formal launch (the grand opening gala) with clowns, balloons, face-painting and three-bite shrimp.

I actually launched a new LMS in a previous life the same way. Who woulda thunk it...introduce six thousand users to a new LMS and not a whimper. This approach is not always guaranteed, because some just don't like cheese.

In practice we're leading with the application of's wrapped in the context of relevant work and has tanigle benefits...and, oh by the way, you just used a virtual classroom tool to participate.

I'm convinced it's an easier "sell" when no one knows you're selling.

...and that would be my $.02


V Yonkers said...

I wonder if the problem is that many organizations seem to fixate on the tool rather than the learning.

I have seen this over and over again in marketing. Companies will launch a marketing campaign using a new "tool" without really developing the message or marketing plan. Just because it is online will not mean it works, especially if your target market does not have access or does not trust the internet!

What Gary is talking about is making sure the training and learning is developed around what you want to accomplish (then choosing the tool). If the focus is on the training, then a new tool might be considered "cool" but only if it accomplishes what you set out to do. Sometimes, face to face training, for example, or using listservs are just more effective. Once everyone is on board, you slowly introduce new tools that may more effectively help learners accomplish their goals.

Karl Kapp said...


I am not sure it is a technology issue at all. I think it is a philosophical issue. Matthew is looking at e-learning or training as a single event. Something that happens once and then it is over.

Learning professionals need to expand the concept to a learning process. Learning professionals must be responsible for the learning process, not a learning event. Web 2.0 tools support a learning process.

E-Learning development tools support a learning event. Event oriented professionals tend to box-in tools and see them only from the event perspective.

The debate should be widened to discuss learning event vs learning processes and not Web 2.0 tools vs "traditional" e-learning development tools.


Anonymous said...

I just went thru the above conversation and i would like to link you guys to a new approach which is totally based on technology which can make learning easier.