Friday, February 11, 2011

LRNCHAT Reflections from Feb 10.

Tonight's #lrnchat posed an interesting and completly hypothetical 'what if' scenario: What if you could wipe the slate clean for corporate learning and do it all over again?

Well, I can say that this one definitely sparked some serious interest among the participants, especially those who decided to join #lrnchat for the first time.  The transcript of the chat doesn't really show what a number of us were likely thinking: something a long the lines of, "ooh, so many ideas, and so little time", but then some of the neat ideas really came through....of course these are all the ideas that we L&D professionals keep in our personal wish lists, but it's nice to let them our for some fresh air once in a while.

Harold Jarche (@hjarche) was probably the lone voice of dissent and asking why we would wipe the slate clean, equating some of the theoretical concepts of the chat to, as he said, "throwing the baby out with the bathwater", and that we might work more effectively on changing behaviours and other similar efforts.

It really was a neat thought, even though it was counter to the intent of the discussion (of course, that's really the point of these things.  If we all agree, then we'll never see the counter-arguments that are likely to smack us in the face like the handle of a stepped-on rake. While I didn't actively pursue Harold's line of inquiry (I was having too much fun thinking up new ideas in the fantasy land we'd created) but I had cause to think of it later.  Although, upon relfection, I didn't really see anyone step up and say "hey, wait, we already do this stuff!"

Maybe the sum total of what Harold and the rest of us were saying is this: we really do need to do things differently if we're going to drag mainstream corporate learning out of the weeds and make it more efficient.  So perhaps we stipulate to the status quo and make the commitment to changing how learning is perceived, created, managed, and delivered.  While there was a good focus on the processes and the approaches that need to change, there was also - not surprisingly - a lot of interest in the technology components. What I found interesting about that was, it wasn't a "this tool sucks" kind of polarization (and I studiously avoided any "Death to PPT" slogans) but it was more conceptual.  We need tools that are accessible and easier to manage both in terms of generating content (note I didn't say "course") and also in terms of hosting, distribution, and access.  Clark Quinn suggested that you should pilot small, then "leverage the hell out of the results", but I think this is where the @Quinnovator and I may differ on approach. While pilots are a good idea, the risk you run by limiting the pilot by business unit (or "silo") is that while you may have convinced one set of stakeholders of the wisdom of your approach, but then you may have to start the whole process over again to get the rest of the organization on board.  So, limit the scope of content, but I'd suggest not limiting the reach.

I could see shades of Tony Bates in some of the commentary about openness and lack of barriers.  Learning should, I think, be something that people don't have to fight for and has to be embedded at all levels.  We also threw ideas around about creating networks and communities, and gaining access to experts "at the moment of need".  We also recognized a need to ditch the concept of a "course" and just replace it with regularly available informational and instructional assets that are easy to keep up to date.

On that note, @LandDDave posted a good picture that reflects what he thinks e-learning should look like...and I can't really disagree conceptually.  For your own version, go to, and do a print screen.  Save it, and think about it.

So maybe the path to success involves a little bit of revolution.  A key member of my PLN, Holly Macdonald (@sparkandco) posted a neat little blog entry asking whether you want to be a victim or an activist.  If you ignore some of the G20/WTO-type imagery and think more along the lines of Ghandi, you might just be onto something.  It may take a slightly subversive approach to makign the kinds of changes we really want to see....without wiping the slate clean and having to build it all over again.

All in all, another inspiring and thought-provoking #lrnchat.

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