You say you want a (learning) revolution... Well, all right!


Most learning professionals agree there is another revolution underway. We have been through a few changes in the past decade: move to virtual, go to web based, LMS breakthroughs. But this one is really more user driven – more of an uprising by the people.

Well, Power to the People!

I have recently seen postings calling the new revolution many things:

· The consumerization of learning

· Self-directed Training

· Micro learning

· Mobile learning

· Indirect learning

· And so on….

I think we are really moving from training to learning, and more specifically, continuous learning (borrowing from Josh Bersin).

So, learning professional, now what do you do?

First, let’s acknowledge that we typically have small budgets. Good news, much of this technology can be done with different thinking and new approaches, not by throwing money at it. This is a technology breakthrough, driven by the anytime, anywhere culture. Today, you can google an answer.

Does that mean that the classroom is as dead as an encyclopedia? By no means. But use it wisely. In learning, the revolution leads us to a new blended learning approach that starts with “I need it now” and ends with “wow, I really know this!”

(Speaking of technology, if you are reading my articles, you know I am a fan of the new learning portals that typically sit on top of your LMS. That is indeed an investment, but one that simplifies your job in the end.)

For me, the steps to join the revolution start with something we know:

1. Do a new needs assessment (you expect that, of course, but this is different)

2. Identify Moment of Need topics

3. Prioritize topics of depth

4. Curate blends of assets into paths

This new needs assessment would evaluate what are the immediate hot topics and how much do your learners need. It also includes how can those needs be solved by evaluating solutions that already exist, internally and externally. Researching the new external content sources can make it easier.

Then, what are the topics learners need right now? What do the sales force, the leaders, the engineers look up and how do they get an answer today? For example, a new manager might be facing a conversation with an employee for which they feel unequipped. They might google difficult conversations or coaching for success. And the solutions they find might not fit the company culture.

In most cases, you cannot learn how to learn a new behavior in a quick google search or a short micro learning on a topic of immediate need. But you can get started. Best to do that within the solutions that fit the skills and behaviors you want people to use. Moment of need is a critical piece of the solution and should be the start.

But where are the hot topics that need more depth. To follow the example below, that new manager needs more on coaching, performance management and communications. They would benefit from one or many paths to learn these skills. One way to build that in a swiftly growing environment is to set up cohort paths, led by a facilitator who coaches activities in the path.

So, we need a blend – a quick reference, backed up with a set of assets built into a path.

So, out with the old?

Not exactly. First, we need to remember the concepts of Adult Learning Theory. We are still changing behaviors, addressing skills, or passing on knowledge, just in new ways. One piece is bite sized containers another is links to assets and ILT can be a part of that. Assets come in a plethora of different shapes and sizes to fit the need: video, interactive programs, games, sims, articles, blogs, social networks, books or book summaries, TED talks, content libraries, and ILT/VILT. The key is to devise a path to knowledge that gives the users/learners answers and options, while addressing the moment of need.

This does not mean that you convert everything to micro learning! That bears repeating. Not everything should be micro learning. BUT, everything should have a path.

Think about how you learn, how you search information. Think about how one piece of information can lead to another and how you build knowledge. And remember your saturation point. Remember how one bad link can stop the investigation.

A personal note

Three weeks ago, I signed up to learn a new skill. Nothing really hard, learning how to better use a software program. I saw a great deal on one of those web learning libraries: $10 for a full course that will make me a guru! Wow. Let me get my credit card out! The course has 32 mini lessons. 32. I got about 12 deep and have yet to return. Now, I need this skill; I want to learn it. But, 32 sections! No thanks.

Think about that the next time you say, "hey, let’s convert this 2-day class to a bunch of micro learnings".

My next article will be on how to create paths that work!

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