A six stage methodology for learning. Part 2 – Context

Yesterday i introduced my six stage Learning Methodology: today, i want to look at the first part in more detail. Context.

Methodology: Context

Context is the first of our six stages in the Learning Methodology. It’s about making a meaningful agreement with the learner and creating the right amount of disturbance.

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

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Design, Dialogue, Disturbance, E-Learning, Effectiveness, Engagement, Everyday Reality, Foundations, Learning, Learning Design, Learning Methodology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to A six stage methodology for learning. Part 2 – Context

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  5. benoitdavid says:

    I really like the idea of expanding the learner’s perspective, i.e. not just what their existing skills or learning styles are, but include their overall considerations… and including in the “what’s in it for me” something else than “just” the impact in their work seems it would be a pretty novel idea from the perspective of the employer. Makes total sense.

    I wouldnt say though that there are only 2 states of learning. I agree with the excellent (that we should all be aiming at) and redundant, but I would add something in between, which sadly exists in all learners lives: boring/inefficient (thus non-engaging, difficult to concentrate on, with poor potential for applying the learning in the workplace and modifying behaviors…).

    Finally, would you say that disturbance is a “part” or “factor” of engagement?

    • benoitdavid says:

      Forgot to mention: would it make sense to add “disturbance”in the 5th point of the overview of the context part of your model? I like the disturbance idea… 🙂

      • benoitdavid says:

        Man, sorry for the multiple post… this is what happens if I start doing things before I finished my first cup of coffee…

        I also like your idea of packaging learning in a “consumer” type of experience. People have expectations, that we always have to consider when we design things, whatever they are, for the simple goal of increasing the chance of it being adopted by the people we design it for. As you put it so well, in this Social Learning “age”, people’s expectations of anything presented to them must have an “experience”, must be engaging, for it not to be rejected, thrown out, discarded, frowned upon…

        So… when we design and develop learning, it makes sense to approach it as if it was a “commercial” piece: from the outside (look & feel + functionality + usability) and the inside (valuable, contextualized content).

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