We have a lot of terms in L&D: Training, eLearning, mLearning, Social Learning, Informal Learning, 70:20:10, Asynchronous, Synchronous, Instructor-led Training, Online Learning. And that's just a few of them. Most of our industry's legacy revolves around a model of training based on classrooms and courses. When you get right down to it, that's really all it's ever been about. At least until we entered the 21st century.
The last 15 years have been an incredible leap forward because of internet technologies. There is nothing I see that is slowing the pace of that progress either. And as tech innovation continues to push forward the culture around what L&D does is slowly beginning to catch up.
It's at this point in much of writing that I would talk about everything wrong with old instructional design, and why it's changing, and whatnot. But this time I'd like to try a different approach. For this post I sat back and did my best to clear my head of as much of my L&D past as possible. My goal was to look at L&D with fresh eyes. And this is what I came up with.
When I consider the current state of technology, (most)businesses, and corporate cultures, I can reduce the best parts of what L&D has to offer into 3 categories: Content, Communication, and Simulation Practice. Not only do these 3 elements play a heavy role in training/learning and development, but other departments have a vested interest in them as well. And that's important for a lot of reasons that I hope will become obvious at some point. And within each of these 3 categories I see familiar elements reflecting L&D work and products from our legacy.
Content Creation and Curation Instead of Courses
Content will always be a major part of learning. And within corporations someone will need to be responsible for creating and curating content. But training content is not what it used to be. Content can be anything. And all content will be useful for learning. The mantra of "that's not training, that's just information" will become a cute way to reflect on our past.
The simple act of working often involves the creation of content. It's either created as specification documentation, presentations, or other forms of communication. Even emails can be considered educational content. The trick is making all the content that is generated every day easily accessible to those who need it when they need it and in the format they need it in. And the wonderful tech community is taking care of that. The L&D community should not.
As digital media creation becomes the norm, everyone will be creating content. Training departments may still need to create interactive exercises in some cases. But overall, the content creation process will start with everyone BUT the training department. Trainers will curate and enhance that content into what may or may not be called a course.
Powerful Communication Tools Support Training
I'm an advocate of people first, technology second. Any time you can get the person who needs the knowledge directly connected to the person who has the knowledge, it's a win-win. But that doesn't scale. And this is where technology helps. Effective communication is important to all businesses, and that means your IT department has already been tasked with acquiring tools/systems for improving corporate communication. These are the tools you will be using as well to connect those who know with those who need to know. As technology makes connecting and communicating globally easier and easier, the burden of courses as a means to communicate becomes secondary.
Consider a system like Google Hangouts, or blab.im. Those group conversations can be recorded and archived for later viewing. So what used to called "watercooler conversations" now becomes content creation. This is the connection between communication and content. All communication becomes content. It can be consumed in its raw form the way it originated, or training departments can "mine" it for the most important nuggets to pulled out and put into other digital media formats
Simulations for Practice will Replace Other Training Solutions
One of the most effective and powerful learning solutions I ever created was an interactive 3D simulation for a semiconductor manufacturing and warehousing project. Next to actually doing the job, simulating the job is the best means of teaching and assessing any skill or behavior. The simulation is not only the assessment tool but the training tool as well. Simulations give leaners an environment within which they can safely fail. Simulations can include instruction or you not. It all depends on what your a trying to teach. Most games are learned by just clicking the start button to see what happens. There's no reason why training simulations can't take the same approach.
The largest simulation event in the US was recently held in Florida, IITSEC. And from what I've heard it was as awesome as its ever been. Currently most training simulations for corporate training topics are still quite expensive. However, as traditional course creation begins to decline, there will be more training budget for simulations that actually are effective at deep learning. And at some point besides content, and communication, the only thing that will remain is the creation of training simulations.
Content, Communication, and Simulation. Is there really a need for anything else? The only puzzle left to solve is curation, accessibility, tracking and scheduling. And this is where today's SaaS based LMS comes in. Learning management systems like Litmos are perfectly positioned to manage this reality. It's got everything covered from curation, device accessibility, tracking, and scheduling, and so much more.
There is obviously much more too this big picture view of our industry today. I'd love to hear what you think. Did I miss something critical? Is content, communication, and simulation not enough? Let me know @litmos.