Yesterday i introduced my six stage Learning Methodology: today, i want to look at the first part in more detail. Context.
Context is about the contract between learner and organisation: it’s where we ask people to invest their time and effort in something within a formal structure. Context is the foundation of engagement and it’s more than someone in a suit telling you it’s important.
We live within our everyday realities: the things that are important to me may be of little interest to you. The things that your bonus is worked out with may be different from mine. You may have to travel a lot whilst i work in a nice office. We each have a unique view of the world and the context needs to account for that.
In the Social Age, we have an evolving relationship with work and the context for learning has to reflect that: it needs to align organisational and individual priorities and realities. This means that the context may extend out of work and into your own personal development e.g. this learning will be good for you here, in this job, but it will help you get the next one, because we recognise that this is important in your reality.
The context for learning starts with the very first communications: it’s a retail experience. Gone are the days where we just told people to go somewhere and fed them endless days of workshops and photocopied workbooks. Whatever i want to learn these days, i can Google it and watch a YouTube video or connect with an expert on Twitter. Learning in the Social Age needs to work to commercial standards. There are only two states for learning these days: excellent or redundant. Excellent learning is engaging, everything else is redundant, because nobody will learn from it.
It’s important to set a clear expectation of what should be changing as a result: what the organisation will do and what is expected of the individual. If we can’t answer these questions explicitly, we shouldn’t be training them.
Context is where we throw a stone into the water to create some disturbance: too much and all the water floods out, too little and nobody notices. Disturbance, of the right amount, is the catalyst for learning.
1. Do you understand the everyday reality of the learner?
2. How does it align with other training?
3. What tone of voice will you use?
YES: context is about choreography to deliver a consumer type of experience.
No: it’s not a set of instructions telling you to attend a workshop on a wet tuesday