Times are a Changing – That’s Good!

[Reflection is a key part of the learning process.  Time for me to incorporate it into my blogging!]

This week (which isn’t over yet!) has been crazy busy, but inspiring and edifying.  Between preparing for teaching/leading a second of my CPLP study group, the Masie Systems and Tools conference, presenting our project as a part of the xAPI Spring 2017 Cohort, and my usual personal learning activities, it’s been a week of seeking>sensing>sharing at its best.

Some of the insights from others and that I’ve had this week:

  • The breadth of knowledge we are expected to understand as L&D professionals is astounding – yet this week, I met and interacted with dozens of folks who navigate between learning theory, finance, analytics, social dynamics, impact of future technologies, technological infrastructure, group and organizational dynamics, etc. and do so effortlessly.
  • Elliott Masie shared three fundamental changes that are occurring in how humans learning:
    • Memorization for learning is declining being replaced by Familiarization as a tactic.
      • Based on the research of Betsy Sparrow
      • We aren’t as concerned about absorbing information as we are in learning how to navigate to it
    • Reading is being replaced by watching
      • 60% of all web landing pages incorporate video
    • It is no longer the WHAT that matters, but the WHO
      • learners will search for information, determine WHO provided it, and contact them for the learning
  • “We’ve become a world of self-service.  Except in corporate learning.” – Bob Mosher
  • Meeting people is easy, building network connections is hard.
  • Millenials (and other learners as well) want intense, immediate experiences to learn from.  They don’t want to wait until a workshop in June or a webinar next week.
  • Rob Lauber’s (CLO at McDonald’s) answers to rapid response questions from Elliot Masie:
    • xAPI – “Could change the game – personalized and transparent; aspirational”
    • search – “I’m already there.”
    • interoperability – “Has to happen for the future.”
    • badges – “I don’t see recognition from outside organizations”
    • virtual reality – “Not serious. I have people pitching me how great it would be for employees to be learning in a virtual restaurant while they are in a real restaurant.”
  • Getting back into a full-scale learning/study mode is challenging!
  • Building a data strategy is probably the last thing most L&D Professionals want to do, but not building one is much more perilous.
  • Irony – one of the two courses I got a C in back in college is fast becoming a component of my everyday life.
  • No matter if it becomes the standard or not, xAPI is driving a conversation about what learning is and how learning analytics should be formulated.  It is driving data knowledge/literacy in L&D.  These are good things.
  • In her article The Future of Learning Measurement has Arrived on TrainingIndustry.com, Caroline Brant says, “now is the time for innovation in L&D”.  She points to innovations like Artificial Intelligence, micro-credentialling, intelligent learning, and xAPI that are promising to radically change L&D.   She makes the point that it’s time for us to prepare ourselves so we can be a part of the innovation.

I couldn’t agree more with Caroline’s reply to a comment on LinkedIn where she reposted her article, “It’s a great time to be in the [L&D] space.”

What are your thoughts on the state of L&D and the challenges we face?  Are you optimistic or apprehensive?  Please comment below and let me know where you’re at.


Yay Teams! The #1 Way of Learning in the Organization

In a new article on Modern Workplace Magazine, Jane Hart reports the latest results of her ongoing survey of worker opinions about the way they learn in the workplace.  The results point to the trend toward more self-reliant learning methodologies.

Jane asked respondents to rate how important each of 10 ways of learning are to them in the workplace.   The ten are:

  • Company training/e-learning

  • Self-directed study of external courses
  • Internal company documents
  • Job aids
  • Knowledge sharing within your team
  • General conversation and meetings with people
  • Personal and professional networks and communities
  • External blogs and news feeds
  • Content curated from external sources
  • Web search for resources (e.g. using Google)

Knowledge Sharing within your team, Web search for resources, Conversations and meetings with people, and Networking and communities are clearly the four top ways identified as important.  L&D can and should leverage these channels for learning.

That the work team is #1 is encouraging.  I believe that creating learning activities to be performed by teams and facilitated by their manager is an untapped channel for learning.  Average to great teams have a high level of trust amongst each other, a common mission, and more contact time with each other than with others in the organization.  The manager can coach/mentor and build the learning objectives into their performance management efforts.  They have common work products to reflect upon and learn from.

I’ve written about how I feel conversations are so important to learning (see Oh, The Conversations We Will Have).  L&D can do more to scaffold conversations around key learning needs of the organization.  “Marketing campaigns” can be used to initiate work of mouth sharing of ideas and concepts.  Special events (ie, meetings) can be arranged to discuss key issues, challenges, or to brainstorm new ideas.  There any number of ways work conversations and meetings can be influenced to be about or include learning experiences.

Helping employees to build their personal, organizational and professional learning networks and communities needs to be a role that L&D embraces.  Helping employees to understand how and why they should be continuously building their networks and joining communities that will help them grow professionally will have benefit in building a learning culture in the organization and in overall capability of the workforce.

Two other interesting results from the survey are that 1) L&D’s bread and butter – face-to-face training and e-learning come in dead last and 2) maybe self-directed learning and content curation might not be as well accepted as some would like to have us believe.

The fact that face-to-face and e-learning come in last isn’t a big surprise.  It’s pretty well understood that L&D needs to look a 1) moving much of learning out of these formats and into more social and informal formats and 2) what content is left that is best delivered via these formats needs to be looked to improve its quality.

While I do have my own reservations about how motivated overworked employees will be to be self-directing in their learning and how many will want to curate content, I also wonder if these two ways of learning may see an upswing in the years to come.  I’m not sure about how many employees 1) know what these ways of learning are or 2) how to learn through them.  Both are very new ideas and how they are best delivered hasn’t settled out yet.


Oh, The Conversations We Will Have

… conversations are where trust is built, networks are formed, innovation is born and nutured.

In a post on LinkedIn called The Year aThat Was, Sandy Mannarswamy skips his normal year end review of technical innovations to focus rather on the impact the death of a colleague had on him.  Specifically the conversations they no longer will have.

While there certainly is the sadness of conversations never to be had and opportunities missed due to death, Mannarswamy’s post got me thinking about conversations, work relationships, and learning; probably because he shared it in a professional  milieu. Or maybe it’s because I’m in my annual year-end reflection about the past year.

Conversations – both live and online – were critical in a year that required massive professional and personal change and adaptation from me.

Before I go on, I’ll clarify what I mean by a conversation.  Wikipedia says it “is a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people.” They are often serendipitous, unplanned.  Because of this participants are authentic, present, and open. They are there to learn about and from the other participants. The conversation IS the agenda. Conversations ramble, are messy, take time. Conversations slow us down.

They are inefficient. Their ROI is not obvious.  They have often been viewed in the workplace as a waste of time.  But conversations are where trust is built, networks are formed, innovation is born and nutured.

We may connect with someone on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter to “expand” our network, but they become an active part of our personal learning network once we’ve had a real conversation with them. An open, authentic conversation determines whether we can trust a person. Can I share my unpolished thoughts with this person?  Can I be vulnetable and safe?

We will trust people who, as Julian Stodd writes in The Social Leadership Handbook, 2e, “The starting point is ‘How can I help you to succeed?’, not ‘How can I get you to do…?’.”

About a month ago, the #lrnchat Twitter chat group had a conversation about misinformation and how we determine what information we trust. Over and over the answer was the people in our trusted networks.

We learn from our networks. We add to what we know by strengthening the connections in our networks and expanding our networks through new connections. Conversation is the primary tool for this work.

But if conversations are spontaneous and inefficient, how do we craft a strategy for ourselves and, as learning profesionals, for others that enables them?

  1. Create environments that bring people together with “no agenda” time.
  2. Share your ideas when they are half-baked or at a roadblock seeking solution.
  3. Give a team a stretch project that requires new ideas, creativity, and/or new connections.
  4. If you are a leader, have conversations. In public. With everyone.  It’s called modeling.
  5. Set goals that include conversations.

Help me out here.  How do you increase the number and quality of conversations in your life?  in your work?