Future of Workplace Learning

We have had the opportunity and privilege to speak with and interview seven leading e-learning experts in our instructor’s network.  It has been interesting and eye-opening to hear the trends they are seeing in the e-learning and training fields and listen to their perspectives about how they see training and education evolving.

The future of the workplace and the training that takes place will look very different:

– more opportunities for informal learning (fostering collaboration), content delivered is smaller (cognitively digestible) chunks: learning nuggets, increased use of gaming and just-in-time learning, user-generated content, curation of content

This course alone has caused me to rethink how I deliver my trainings and how I can take advantage of the tools available to create a learning environment that is more engaging, more fun and results in better learning transfer.

There is a part of me wishing there was a Part 2 of this course!


Interview with Richard Culatta

Still  reveling in the good fortune to be in a class where we have the opportunity to talk to experts in the field that we are studying.  The most recent interview was incredible.  Richard is dynamic and absolutely passionate about what he does.  And what he is doing is encouraging.  His work at Dept of Education is to bring educational technology into each of the 100,000 schools in America – it is about time.  America is falling behind in math, engineering, technology.  Bringing technology into K-12 schools and implementing his ideas of open education, games and personalized learning are just what we need to move us forward.

Cookie cutter education has never worked and it amazes me that we persist with that model.  It is certainly the easier path…easier for school boards when designing curriculum, easier for teachers when they teach it (although frustrating to the good teachers who see some students getting totally lost and others totally bored).  Now we have almost unlimited free resources available at the click of a mouse and the cost of accessing those resources continues to decrease…so perhaps now the time is right and we can make progress and make up some of what we have lost in our education.

Other take-aways from this interview:  

– get rid of the idea of classifying people by learning styles

– differentiate the approach, let the learning pace be flexible and the content tied to the interest of the learner

– create a culture around digital learning and collaboration…and use games

His challenge to us:  create an elearning course without a “next” button.  I am excited to take on that challenge!


Interview with Learning Expert Cammy Bean

Another wonderful opportunity to learn from an expert in the field.  Cammy shared with us some of her favorite “books for the trade” as she explained to us her current job position and what we might expect to find in the field of ISD.  The job descriptions vary widely from organizations who expect ISD professionals to be masters of all areas to very specific aspects of ISD.  She brought up an excellent point that organizations everywhere are getting into the elearning world – both for internal training and resources for employees and for teaching customers about their business – more marketing.  She suggested looking for jobs in unexpected places and industries – great advice!

A key takeaway from me was to get away from creating long e-learning modules.  Understand how we learn and use shorter modules incorporating opportunities to practice, repeat and reinforce….and space out the modules.

Her point that the nature of ISD and training is changing and corporations are moving away from traditional training and even “traditional” elearning was interesting and pause for thought.  With knowledge being the hot commodity, businesses need “in the moment” training, real-time learning – where does ISD fit into this?  How can we make ourselves marketable?

Cammy also discussed her thoughts on the e-learning pie.  The pie consists of an instructional design piece (how people learn, instructional strategies, ADDIE, etc), a creative piece (executing the e-learning with graphics, audio, video, doing storylines, making it engaging), the technology piece (LMS, authoring tools) and the business side (business outcomes, results, objectives, understanding project mgmt).  Her point was that in ISD, depending on the circumstances and the company, you might need to be knowledgeable about all the slices of the pie, or, you can choose to specialize in one and pull in specialists for the other pieces.

Great interview – thank you Cat for facilitating and Jeannette for your network!

The Future of Workplace Learning

It is interesting to watch the shift in workplace learning.  Many organizations with young founders already fully embrace the use of social media and informal learning.  Their employees use Facebook, twitter, wikis, etc to stay in touch, collaborate and share ideas.  Other organizations that keep their eye on the future and incorporate flexibility and adaptability in their culture are also poised to accept and integrate new methodologies for training and learning within their organization.  They are slowly utilizing tools that foster collaboration and sharing of ideas and talent.  Many have recognized the need to do this so they stop “reinventing the wheel” in their various locations.  There are millions, if not billions, of dollars to be saved by creating the space and place for employees to share ideas on projects, products, processes.

Through the process of informal learning, employees can be partners in learning and development and give input to the training department as to what needs they still have that perhaps can be addressed by a more formal training.  “Knowledge management” is a key concept and will only become more important in the future workplace.  Creating a team concept where everyone has input into innovative solutions will mark those corporations who survive and prosper, with those who stagnate and are unable to move forward.

Abigail Wheeler interview

Although I was unable to participate in person for this interview, I had the opportunity to hear the interview with Abigail Wheeler this evening.  What a great interview.  Abigail leads an a training and development effort for a company that supplies veterinary products to vets.  When she joined the company they were instituting a radical change in how they trained their sales force.  Instead of four weeks of in-classroom training (a lot of travel costs, time lost in productivity, people away from families), they are doing the majority with online training.  I have heard about the use of learning nuggets in another course I took, but this is the first time I have heard from someone actually implementing it.  What a great way to deliver certain training.  And as Abigail mentioned, it serves a dual purpose: training and performance support (quick answers to questions).  Her organization is implementing a lot of best practices to ensure learning transfer.  They are using the nuggets delivered right to the sales force iPads, webinars, online assessment, mentors and then they bring them in for face to face training that can be more productive because they have a lot of fundamentals already.

Key points for me:

– use nuggets of information when possible (easy to remember and good for reference)

– training can be still be effective with good Powerpoints and Adobe Connect

– take advantage of user-generated content

– new group to follow: learning solutions (elearning guild)


Jane Bozarth interview

Had the opportunity to participate in an interview with one of the leading experts in social media for learning and training, Jane Bozarth.  Great interview with informative, candid answers to questions about various social media tools and how to bring them into a variety of workplaces from public school systems to organizations highly resistant to social media.

 My takeaways from the interview:

  1. Use Facebook to host a whole course.  Yes!
  2. with a relatively low-cost microphone, free software (Audacity) and a walkin closet full of clothes – you can record decent quality presentations.  (time to fill that closet!)
  3. get rid of email if you want people to use other social media.  It is inefficient and makes collaboration difficult
  4. be a positive deviant – how can you do it differently – think: How can I do this without any money (welcome to my training world)
  5. Great point: using social media that doesn’t have a writing focus helps learners who have been marginalized
  6. Jane’s favorite five SM tools:  facebook, twitter, pinterest, LinkedIn, google docs