On the second day of Christmas Learning: speed

12 days of Christmas - day 2

Speed is of the essence: but not too fast. Effective learning is better.

In the spirit of the season, i’m dedicating the last twelve days of writing to a series of reflections on key trends and features of learning in the Social Age. Today: speed.

I hope Santa has an asbestos beard, because it turns out he’s risking a lot, travelling at six hundred and fifty miles every second to put that new Lego set in your stocking. As the lead reindeer are vaporised in the heat, the presents in his sack are likely to be shattered by the sonic waves at three hundred times the speed of sound. There’s fast, and there’s stupid.

Faster, shorter, snappier, leaner, the list goes on for the most curtailed superlative to describe the latest, greatest and most minimised approach to learning yet.

But is it effective?

Short is fine, but effective is better. I think what we’re meant to aim for is methodologies and modalities of learning that are agile, that support the building of mental models, constructs and habits that enable enhanced performance. But all too often we end up driven by watchwords and trends that dictate ‘bite sized‘ over strong stories, that measure learning in length not outcomes.

When i wrote ‘Mindset for mobile learning‘, i meant just that: that mobile technology should be about mindset, not chipsets. It should be about understanding how people live and learn and slotting our solutions into that. But i wasn’t arguing that it should be short because short was better: i was arguing that it should be effective by fitting well with our needs. If that happens to be short, all to the good, but if our needs are for reflective spaces, for long demonstrations, for spaces to play, then all of that will be needed if we are to enhance performance.

So, don’t just aim for short because short is cool: aim for effective.

But don’t make it too long either… because there’s a flip side. A great deal of organisational learning is too long! In particular, it’s over contextualised, it’s surrounded by disclaimers and guidance, support and addenda to the point where it’s horrible. All too often we end up with stories being told that face inwards, towards the needs of the organisation instead of outwards, to the needs of the individual.

Well written, concise learning, with strong stories, is better than overblown and self important epics.

Speed is about speed of delivery, speed to competence, speed of access and speed of retrieval if you need to look back at it. This involves good instructional design, good technology, good knowledge management and good infrastructure. It doesn’t just involve calling it a ‘learning bite‘: short chunks of learning need to form part of a wider story arc, they need to be part of a solution that can truly enhance performance through an effective methodology for learning.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Agile, Clarity, Learning, Stories, Storytelling and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to On the second day of Christmas Learning: speed

  1. Pingback: On the third day of Christmas Learning: the sound of jingling bells | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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