What Learning & Development can Learn from a Rock Band and YouTube

mlearning & youtube

Litmos was a major sponsor of the mLearnCon Conference and Expo in San Diego recently.  The event focuses specifically on mobile learning which is still a hot topic.

Mobile Learning Isn’t All About mLearning

I gave a session on the New Directions stage titled Mobile Learning isn’t all about Mobile Learning. The seating area was full when I got started, but a larger crowd began to gather, standing around the back, as I told the story of Arnel Pineda becoming the lead singer for Journey with the help of YouTube. It’s such a great story of perseverance, and hard work at something you love. But when I hear these stories I have a tendency to see different stories hidden beneath the main plot.

Video Sharing & Talent Acquisition

In this case, I prefer to see how a simple video sharing tool/system can be used as a Talent Acquisition System. People are often quick to point out Justin Beiber’s successful use of YouTube as well.  But the difference is, in my opinion, Justin’s successful use of social media was purpose-driven by him and those around him. In Arnel’s case it was a friend posting the videos to YouTube…not Arnel.  And it was the friend that Neal Schon first contacted after seeing the video of Arnel performing Journey songs. In fact, according to his wikipedia page, he first thought it was a hoax:

On June 28, 2007, Neal Schon of Journey contacted Noel Gomez, a longtime fan and friend of Pineda who had uploaded many of these videos, to ask for Pineda’s contact information.[10] Schon sent an e-mail to Pineda inviting him to audition for Journey. Pineda initially dismissed the e-mail as a hoax, but after being persuaded by Gomez, he finally replied to Schon’s e-mail. Ten minutes later, Pineda received a phone call from Schon.[11] 

While the exciting human interest story is no doubt all about Pineda, the technology story is about how the use of technology platforms is mostly defined by the end-user, and not the tool or the developer of the tool.  I have similar stories for twitter but I’ll save those for another post.

Why Do Learning & Development Professionals Care?

By now you are wondering why an L&D professional cares about this and what it means to you as an L&D professional, right? Here it is…

At first glance, YouTube is a super easy way to share, store, and play, video files. And because much of what humanity records and shares via YouTube is perceived as an awful waste of hard drive space we tend to dismiss the tool.  We say things like, “YouTube is just filled with junk”, instead of “People post the craziest things that aren’t interesting to me”.  We blame the technology for the actions of the users of new technologies.

I would argue that we do the same in the L&D industry.  We fill our LMSs with content that just isn’t interesting, or relevant, to our users. We like to blame LMSs for not doing what we want them to do when, in my experience, most of what WE (the L&D industry) want to do is NOT what our users, and stakeholders, want us to do. And this is why I’ve been a big fan of Litmos for so long, and now a happy member of the Litmos team.

Love Litmos & Love Your Learners

I’ve loved what Litmos was, and still is, from the very first time I saw it.  It’s everyman’s learning management system.  I love that it can be whatever I need it too be.  If I need it to be the old school version of an LMS, well okay, it can be that. But if I need it to be a video sharing system, until I can properly design the instruction, then it can be that too.  Do I worry about needing a mobile strategy? No. Litmos just takes care of that. And before you send me hate mail, I do realize that in certain cases you must design with the small screen in mind, etc., etc., and etc. Yes, I get it.  But if you think about mobile deployment from the beginning when developing your content, a tool like Litmos easily handles 90% of the design needs I’ve encountered in my 20+ year career. You can even generate revenue for your business by selling your courses…and so much more. Not to mention, it’s just darn fun to use.(sorry for the sales pitch)

The point is that our industry has not been very open to changing how we do what we do. We expect OUR technologies to meet OUR needs, and what WE think our learners need.  And the vendor community is all to willing to give it too us because we are the ones buying the technology not the learners.

In the 21st century corporation “Everyone Trains”.  That means that everyone in the organization is responsible for learning and development (L&D), not just HR and/or the training department.  Arnel’s friend was not his agent, or PR firm, but he played the role by simply sharing a video on a video sharing platform.  And when a singer in the Philippines can be found by a Los Angeles rock star and close the deal in less than a year, then you know something wonderfully different is happening because of technology.  Technology eliminates the middle-man.

Provide the Right Tools & Support

Make no mistake. The L&D profession is simply the middle-man in the world of learning. By providing the right tools and supporting your learners you continue to add business value.  That value is just starting to look different than what you might be used too.  Don’t be afraid. Embrace the change and empower your users or customers with simple, flexible, responsive, platforms that enable them to be both learner and teacher.  That is the future.

*Image Courtesy of digitaltrends.com