Valuing all Sources of Learning
Each year I meet quite a few people who work in the eLearning field, usually they’re developers or eLearning creation is part of their L&D role. Most are newbies to eLearning and we come together in a classroom setting to get them started on their eLearning development journey. At the beginning of each session I like to find out a little about each person – such as their background, their experience – and while most people are brand new to eLearning authoring usually there’s at least one or two who have been experimenting with the tool or they’ve watched some ‘how-to’ videos on YouTube or they’ve read some articles on websites/blogs or they’ve asked questions in (or visited) the eLearning communities.
However, there’s one thing that these people do have in common, and that is they all finish their introduction with:
“but I haven’t had any training”
These people still learn from the sessions but they can do a lot more than they give themselves credit for. The classroom setting for learning (at least in this case) is still valuable especially for novices and even those who have basic experience learn a few things they didn’t know prior. Plus, they can ask questions specific to their context, get answers straight away as well as being able to interact with and learn from other people in the room. But, there’s two things I find troubling about the above statement.
Firstly, they seem to put a much higher value on formal training events for learning as opposed to learning something via other more informal means. It’s like they don’t quite trust the information that comes from a blog post, a website or a YouTube video. They seem to need the security of an “expert” in a room to tell them. I’ll let you in on a secret, I’ve had no formal training in creating a WordPress site or in blog writing and yet here I am…
The second, and more concerning aspect of this situation, is that these same people who “haven’t had any training” are working in the learning area within their organisations. This leads me to believe that a reason why the default response for many L&D folks to always create a course is because they themselves only see courses as a way to truly learn something. There’s also another (perhaps bigger) issue – if they only see formal, instructor-led learning as a necessary requirement for their own learning, then they’re probably less likely to embrace blogs, videos, just-in-time resources, curation, communities and working out loud/ showing your work to either supplement, support or perhaps replace some formal learning ‘events’ within their organisations.
The course mentality that is so prevalent in L&D won’t change until the very people charged with improving workplace performance get past the ‘formal learning is the only way to learn’ mindset and start to see the value in and embrace other options. Perhaps if they put a higher value on other sources of learning for themselves they’d be more likely to introduce other methods into their workplaces and create conditions from which it can flourish.
While I do believe that formal, instructor-led courses have their place to improve performance there are many other options available to L&D practitioners. We’ve been conditioned throughout our lives that real learning only comes from structured learning events so we tend to stick with what we’re comfortable with. The problem is that one-off events take people away from their work but people need to learn and have tools and resources available to them in the flow of their work – at the point of need.
So, if we are to move forward, things need to change starting with our own how to learn something mindset…
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