Training Professionals Should Never Learn to Code
That's only one side of the story. The other side is that everyone in our industry should, at the very least, understand code. And like all great conversations there are many many variations in between. So where do you stand on the topic? I find that most people land somewhere in the middle...but of course it depends.
As with all conversations in our industry, we should start by defining who we are talking about because we are a very big tent of professionals. I can't imagine being a training developer and NOT understanding at least a little bit of code. I know there are people who consider themselves to be strictly instructional designers, and team up with developers to get projects done. And of course there are those who work in L&D as training managers, CLOs, etc. Should all of these job roles require an understanding of code?
While you ponder that question, I think we can all agree that, in general, learning the basics of how the internet works, and the fundamental structures of computer programming, is a good idea for everyone. And I'm not certain but I would guess that most academic programs require a course of study in this area. I remember my undergrad program required CIS111 and we learned COBOL and WordStar. Turns out I was pretty good at it. But that was pre-internet, and even pre-graphical user interface. We worked with a small flashing vertical line on the screen. Not fun.
I find myself not being able to take a firm stand one way or the other. I know it was my development skills and technical knowledge that allowed me to forge the career path presented to me after graduate school. It certainly wasn't my writing skills. However, that was 20th century thinking. I'm not sure that understanding code is necessary any more. I will always be a proponent of learning as much as you as often as you can, but we have more tools in our training solution toolbox today. And some of those solutions are low tech or no tech required. And even more may involve technology, but the tools make it possible to create content without understanding any of the underlying technologies that make that creation possible. I know it sounds like an easy way out, but it's highly dependent on the individual to decide if they need that knowledge or not.
I remember hand coding multiple lines of script in early authoring tools just to get a video to play from a CD-ROM. Today you simply drag'n'drop the file and you're done. And not only that, but today that video will play on any device. We've come a long way. And we're moving forward faster than ever. Change is hard. And when that change comes at us faster, and faster, and faster, it's time to look at how we do our work differently. The disruption of our industry is very real.
So, the question remains. Do training professionals NEED to learn code?
We had this conversation during L&D Talk: Tech Tuesday.
At the end of the L&D Talk conversation I asked everyone to offer up their suggestions for a plan of action. We should be able to offer more than a mandate to learn computer code. As an industry we should know what that looks like and how someone would acquire the skill, and at what level of achievement. Please share your thoughts and ideas with us. @Litmos