Cheif Learning Officer Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

A Hammer Looking for a Nail

 -  11/10/11

Learning is more about remediation and maintenance than about helping learners start from scratch.

I've always loved the expression, “When you’re holding a hammer everything looks like a nail.” In the ever-changing world of learning, I wonder to what degree this saying resonates when it comes to our approach to solving new learning challenges. I have long believed that our industry finds a new platform, such as e-learning, mobile learning, performance support or social learning, and immediately places it into our training bucket. Many would argue this approach is what hurt the early days of e-learning, when we promised a just-in-time experience but often delivered a boring and ineffective online offering instead.

It’s worth taking a closer look at the learning landscape and considering exactly what type of experience we’re being asked to support and then building solutions from there. I would argue that we are doing less and less of what we have called new or introductory training. By this I mean introducing learners to content about which they have little prior knowledge.

When I first entered the adult learning space, it was on the heels of the PC explosion. Desktop PCs were just emerging in the workplace. We had little to no prior knowledge of this tool and what it could do. So, we built powerful and effective “new” training. That was 1983. Things have changed for the learner since then on many levels, yet when I look at our current introductory courses for IT systems I still see many of the same learning constructs and approaches used, including bringing people into days of stand-up, instructor-led training, much of which is painfully familiar or unrelated to what the learner will be asked to do on the job.

If we take a look at the content and the learners we’re supporting, even with “new” systems and programs, is the experience and outcome really new? Or is it really an extension of, or additive to, prior knowledge already acquired through years of similar experiences? It’s time to start designing for “more” training rather than new.

“More” training is based on the fact that our learner comes to our training programs with existing knowledge or life experiences which we should build upon. This calls for a different design strategy on all levels from the approach we currently take to collect and create content, to the form the content takes when delivering, facilitating or supporting the learning experience.

Article Keywords:   training   learning model  


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