Learning used to take place in abstract places at defined times: go to this place to be taught. We took time to learn before going back to our real jobs. Back to reality. The shift, across multiple channels, has been away from this over the last few years: social learning, mobile learning, game based learning, all of these things demonstrate a shift in mindset, a move away from abstract events through to learning that is integrated into our ‘real’ lives.
The benefits are clear: we know that one of the hardest parts of learning is to make the leap between “that’s interesting” through to “that’s useful“. Interesting is nice, useful delivers results. The falloff between abstract learning and reality is down to our ability to create meaning from the learning, to use it to adapt our behaviours, to develop our skills, to be agile in our attitude. Technology can be part of the solution: allowing us to access materials outside the classroom, allowing us to get more support directly where we need it, but it’s only part of the answer. The foundation is a solid approach to learning design, a rigorous methodology.
It’s easy to view different training methodologies as simply different channels for distribution, as different ways to say the same thing, but they are so much more than that. We can do different things in each channel: mobile for performance support (very choppy, rapid, immediate materials), social for challenge and reflection (more nuanced, narratives, collaborative), workshops for practice (skill drills, roleplay).
Our responsibility is to remain agile, to recognise that ‘different’ is not always the same as ‘better’, and to understand what ‘better’ actually means. How will we measure success? Where are we prepared to do our learning, to make mistakes, to learn how these different elements combine together? Why do we do what we do now? Because it adds value or because that’s just how we’ve always done it? If we can’t change ourselves, we won’t be able to change others.
Learning is changing, the technology is evolving, expectations are moving, the whole environment is in flux. We need to create engaging solutions that deliver real change. To do that we need to experiment and master new technologies and new ideas. If we stop changing we will stagnate. What are you going to do that’s brave this year?