Is Shark Week the Future of Learning?

future of learningIt’s Shark Week! And that means 13 new shows about sharks on Discovery Channel.

But wait! That’s not all!

There was a live event happening at Hermosa Beach in Florida called FinFest…sort of a Woodstock for fans of Shark Week.

There is also a late night live talk show, Shark After Dark, happening each night of Shark Week. Check out Shark After Dark TV for fun highlights if you missed it live.

And there is a hashtag, #sharkweek, so you can participate in the conversation via social media as well.

Does any of this sound familiar? Let’s recap…

  • Live event – Live streamed
  • Pre-Recorded Programming.
  • Live Programming – talk show style – recorded and available for later viewing
  • Social media for massively shared collaborative online participation

Shark Week Sure Looks Like a 21st Century Learning Experience

Our live events are classroom based 20th century style learning events. You may or may not have a live stream from your classroom events.  It’s not a matter of technology any more.  It’s inexpensive and easy to do these days. It’s more a matter of need, and if it will add business value.

And whether you stream the live event or not, you will definitely be recording it, right? Why? The recording is there for you to review, and improve, the content as part of your iterative design process.  But it’s also posted internally for any employees interested, and self-motivated enough to view a complete ILT course video. Believe it or not, some people actually do watch recorded sessions in their entirety.

And let’s not forget the social aspect.  Most enterprise social media systems follow the same rules of the public social media tools like twitter, facebook, and Google+. So using tags for content areas is only natural. If an ILT is running on any particular topic, it’s an easy bet that topic is popular enough to merit a hashtag on internal social media platforms. You may create online discussion groups around topics.  But what use isn’t as important as just using something to promote conversation before, during, and after, the learning event.

Use Technology to Enhance Existing Events

Many large companies already run week long management leadership “camps”, so it’s really nothing all that new. However, new internet technologies and mobile devices open up opportunities for expanding the reach and engagement even further.

I know what you’re thinking. All of these elements would be impossible to plan, with too many moving parts for an underfunded training department. But I think it can be done, and from my previous posts I’ve explained the beginnings of making this happen.

  • Use your SMEs
  • Run and Record ILT sessions
  • Start a social conversation around the topic (product/process/service)
  • Create short media elements based on ILT and attendee feedback

The key to a successful Shark Week for your learning content is in not biting off more than you can chew. (I couldn’t resist.)

Focus on an iterative design process and build up to a Shark Week style learning experience. The high end nature of a Shark Week production not the point of this post. Understanding the fundamental elements of a Shark Week production can you help you see the possibilities on a much smaller scale.  It’s possible! Be creative! Have fun!

Or…if you’re interested in learning more about the 20th century learning model, you should check out Learning plans, from, with pre-defined lesson plans, paper printouts, objectives, and sample activities. Some of the activities seem legit, but I’m certain there are teachers out there significantly more creative than that.