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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Models for Learning Questions

We wrapped up our free elearning webinar on Models for Learning in a New World.  My portion was a fast paced look at several important environmental trends such as:

  • Decreased L&D budgets (see Business of Learning)
  • Faster pace
  • Increased workforce mobility
  • Shorter job tenure
  • Increased job fragmentation - fewer numbers in any one role
  • Constant increase in complexity
  • Greater concept work
  • Need for faster proficiency
  • Changing expectations for learning

The bottom line is that Learning and Development needs to do more with less these days or they will be marginalized.  We also have so many more kinds of solutions we can offer.  I described some common eLearning 2.0 patterns that are emerging much along the lines of my previous post Examples of eLearning 2.0.


There were some great questions during the session.  Unfortunately, we didn't have much time to discuss. 

1) Two issues that come up,  at least in the world of training in a government environment, is that of a) security of information, and b) control of the information given to the learner to make sure it is accurate.  Can you comment on those two issues?

Both of these concerns/objections come up quite often even outside of government.  Security of the information is something that hopefully your IT organization is already dealing with.  I recommend adopting their tools and their security mechanisms.  If that's not possible, then start with content that doesn't have the same level of security concerns. 

Control can be similarly avoided as an issue by initially moderating all edits.  Yes that takes work, but it's less work than keeping all the content up-to-date yourself.  Over time you will have some areas where moderation can be removed.

2) How do you sale to the NON-Gen Y's and Millennials who are in upper management who fear things like wiki's?

9) When introducing these new learning methods, I have the impression that the resistance from organisation is lies more in the new role of the training department rather then new technologies. Is this also your experience?

Resistance can come from a lot of places.  I used to find IT very resistant, but now I'm finding more often there are allies with IT who are helping to make this stuff happen.  I gladly jump on their shoulders (and systems).  So, I would agree that new technologies is less the issue.

More often real resistance comes from senior VPs who are not willing to okay something they don't really understand.  Yammer (internal twittering) is almost impossible to explain to someone who has no experience with any social networking (and probably not with anything more than email lists).

My suggestion is that you don't really try to sell Yammer or a Wiki or any other kind of tool.  Instead, you simply say that you want to provide a means of editing the content more easily, or following up on the training to get dialog to happen, or whatever the obviously smart solution is that you are proposing.

As a side note, I think selling Twitter/Yammer is harder than selling social bookmarking and wikis.  Twitter/Yammer is something new.  Social bookmarking and wikis are often a smart replacement with obvious side benefits.

Many of the suggestions in Learning 2.0 Strategy still hold:

1. Start Tactical and Bottom Up
2. Avoid the Culture Question
3. Avoid Highly Regulated Content (and Lawyers)
4. Learning Professionals Must Lead
5. Prepare Workers for Learning 2.0
6. Technology is Tactical not Strategic
7. Avoid the CIO

3) Tony, what is "secondments" that is listed on your last slide?

4) How is "accountability" for learning specific things being handled in 2.0?

5) How do we ensure learning transfer with Learning 2.0 methodologies.

This was discussed a fair bit during the session.  You can certainly still test whether learning objectives were achieved, but … the point is often that "learning transfer", i.e., testing knowledge, is not really the thing you are going after.  Instead, you often don't quite know what content will be covered and accountability is more the end result – for example, a presentation might need to be created.  I might use the analogy of the thesis associated with an advanced degree.  You are not testing for content, rather you are expecting the completion of a process leading to something that is fairly well defined.  You will evaluate using much the same way that we Evaluate Concept Work.

6) Can you comment on the advantages/disadvantages of company-created social sites (private networking sites) vs public sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Not sure I even know how to answer this.  Most of the time, there's pretty clear separation between private and public sites in terms of your goals and use cases.  I will say that sometimes companies get it a bit wrong when it comes to leveraging existing sites to create value that extends beyond the firewall.  For example, having a robust group and network on LinkedIn can be quite valuable when you have employees who should be able to reach outside the firewall for expertise and can leverage LinkedIn to find internal expertise as well.  Similarly having content that flows outside to partners, customers, etc. can be an interesting solution.  I do think there are interesting opportunities here.  However, most L&D are focused much more on the private kinds of solutions at this point.
7) Is there a method to map different models of learning to different types of projects?
Great question. I don't know. There are lots of patterns emerging, but I don't think there's a "method" yet. Is there a method for mapping blended learning to types of projects even taking away some of the newer complexities of learning 2.0? Not sure. Help?
8) We are in the brainstorming sessions of creating a blog and podcast. What tips or advise can you give on the focus and direction of these?

We want to allow users to get to know us and our abilities. One of the challenges we have is that many departments don't understand that we could help them identify and solve many training issues.

We would like to create a "Get to Know Us" site where we discuss what we are working on lately and some of the recent products we have released.

This is interesting.  I personally would be really concerned about making sure that my blog or podcasts were valuable to my target audiences.  Creating an internal newsletter as a blog or podcast that doesn't have compelling information may find few followers.

I think rather than "Get to Know Us" or "What we Offer" – maybe instead focus on "Smart Ways to Solve Your Problems" … Taking a focus on case examples or new methods or ??? that is all around how they can get their work done better would seem to be much more interesting.  How about becoming an aggregator for them of this kind of information?  Show them interesting solutions at other (related) organizations so that they can have a more interesting conversation with you.

In some ways, I would think of this as you taking the lead in learning the kinds of things that they would want to have time to learn about themselves.  How are other organizations using these things?  How are they improving performance?  What are some interesting trends out there?  Bring that together for them.  That's high value for you and them.  I'd think that's a compelling internal blog and/or podcast.

One last note – podcast implies that you have a set of people who have access to iPods / iPhones and time to listen.  I personally, listen sporadically to podcasts.  A blog would be much better to reach me personally.  Maybe you have a good audience for the podcast.  But my guess is that the blog will fit much better.  Heck, you can probably get the blog posts emailed to people. :)


V Yonkers said...

On #2, in other words, sell the affordance, not the tool. Twitter allows for brief announcements to be broadcast at one time, but a company may not want to jump on the "Twitter" bandwagon because they don't really understand what it is. However, you can sell a twitter like tool by focusing on its use for broadcasting information quickly throughout the organization. For example, many law enforcement agencies use a broadcasting mechanism to send out Amber Alerts. Identifying the use of the tool, then working with IT to identify the tool that will meet that need within the security and culture of that organization.

Tony Karrer said...

Virginia - great point. And I just saw a great line that backs you up:

"our audience is interested in receiving timely, useful URLs, but see absolutely no value in Twitter" from

It's all in how you position the value of the tool not the tool!

Gary Wise said...

Tony, sorry I missed this event. Casualty of not having a clone to be on three places at once. The 7th question in today's post sounds like a methodology approach to applying learning, and I'd like to offer up a couple of posts on my blog in support of an answer. The first two posts describe the application of a design model that supports a continuous learning environment where a blend of formal and informal learning co-exists. the model does not recommend learning type, but it does provide guidelines for discovery that point toward different venues and delivery attributes. My whole take on determining the appropriate blend is a function of identifying the performance outcomes desired and working backwards into the most effective learning blend. The biggest influencer in this model is the "work context" of the learner, and that plays a huge roll in the third phase of the Learning Continuum. This is the gist of my topic in the "Future of the Business of Learning", so I won't blather on here, but if desired the posts are at Living in Learning

Gary Wise said...

Virginia, I call your concept of selling affordance "hiding the pill in the cheese."

"Cheese" = business-relevant benefits of twitter...

"Pill" = twitter.

Keeping the technology transparent becomes more important the older the audience is that we expect to adopt it. If they do not know they were using Twitter...rather that they had virtually instant access to critical links...bada-bing...adoption.



Peter Casebow said...

On question 7 and models for learning - have posted a response at