Developing flexible modern content

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Over the last several weeks I have been participating in Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning group. This weeks task is to look at developing flexible modern content in the workplace.

So what does this mean? In Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning she identifies that technology and web is enabling new ways of learning. That people are becoming more self directed to solve their own learning and performance problems and this approach is very different from traditional learning approaches. Modern content is continuous, on demand, bite sized, on the go, social, not designed, serendipitous and performance orientated. Read more in chapter 2 of Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning – A resource book for L&D.

I agree with all of Jane Hart’s observations on the characteristics of modern learning. Here’s a personal example of modern learning in action. My husband recently built a pizza oven at our house. He had never laid a brick and is a bus driver and stay at home dad by day. He did not go on a pizza oven building workshop, nor did he get tutored or mentored on how to build pizza oven. Instead he was self-directed in his problem solving and researched the web and found websites and Youtube clips with how to build different types of pizza ovens. He took bits of information from different sites, sometimes commenting and asking the bloggers specific questions. He trialled techniques and went back to research when more info was needed. From this he built his own customised pizza oven, in his own time, that met his own specific needs (i.e. fitted in the limited space and used the fire bricks we bought cheaply). His performance was measured through the results – which I must say are delicious!

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So how do we bring this modern learning into the workplace? It is such a contrast to what happens within workplaces as most view that learning can only happen and be believed to have happened if it is delivered to the staff (workshops, online courses, programmes etc). Completion and attendance can be checked off and the job of learning is done – then we move onto the next learning job.

To embed modern learning into the workplace is mostly a change of mind set and usually this is required first from the Learning and development departments that are wedded to courses and outputs. Learning and development departments need to take responsibility with showing the workplace ways people really learn and embedding this in practice. Learning is a continuous process not a one off event, a one-off training event will do little to solve performance problems.

Curating content and communicating resources to staff members is one way in which modern learning can be brought into the workplace. Here’s a blog on how I’ve started doing this in my workplace – learning resources from content curation. Why would we not point staff to useful bite-sized resources that they can pull and utilise as they need it? Why not even follow up on ‘learning events’ with curated relevant content? I know some excellent learning resources that would be useful for all staff such as Lynda.com, Tedtalks, Mindtools and many more. Why not promote these resources to all staff then they too can be familiar with resources that can help them grow?

Working as learning consultants rather than just learning deliverers is another way in which to build continuous learning practices into teams and management, teach the skills and practices around learning rather than just the content. Building new attitudes and culture towards workplace learning means that learning can be viewed as a continuous, embedded and forever improving approach to work performance.

Does this mean courses are bad and shouldn’t happen? I think no, courses (elearning or facilitated) will always have a place – just a smaller one. They shouldn’t be the automatic first or only offer of help from L&D. And when a course is deemed an appropriate learning response it needs to be more than a one-off event. Courses can and should be supported by other techniques such as learning plans, curated content, self-directed research, social learning and learning communities. The course anatomy will also need to adapt, for example, small bite sized chunks are more suited to modern learning now than a week out at a workshop.

How do you see flexible modern content? What are you doing your workplace to move towards this? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

 

A – Z of my work place learning

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Continuous learning is critical in modern work places. Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning book and blog describes a multitude of valuable ways to learn going way beyond typical training courses. As part of the 2016 L&D Challenge run by Jane Hart we were given the challenge to reflect on how we learn in the workplace. Below is an A – Z of how I manage my personal work place learning. This reflection is awesome for learning professionals, I also think it is valuable for any professional to look at their methods for continuous learning.

A

ATD membership – reading blogs and magazines to identify trends coming out in the industry

B

Blogging – both reading and writing. Helps me reflect on and refine my practice.

C

Committee member (just became one) of New Zealand Association for Training & Development – NZATD. This will make me actively connected to local people who share their talent and expertise. I always learn something new from the speakers. If you’re in Wellington NZ check out the next event.

D

Daring to do new things

E

Elearning Guild – reading reports to help embed my practice in theory or research. Also watching webinars while exercising on my cross trainer to broaden my knowledge on different learning techniques and strategies

F

Follow thought leaders – checking in on both Twitter and their blogs. I often pick up new ideas which then I research further and look for opportunities to implement. Blogs are perfect for me as being a mum of young ones and having my own business I don’t read much books because of the time commitment, they are an easily digestable way to keep up with trends.

G

Government learning group (local group) – networking and finding out what other people are doing in the learning field in the government agencies. Very valuable for sharing ideas. And of course Google comes under G too…

H

Help – being able to ask for it when needed and knowing where to find it, and being grateful in return– no-one is an island 😉

I

Inspiration from other industries e.g. movies, marketing, gaming, IT etc… looking at blogs or just taking ideas in when I’m not working – everything is inspiration!

J

Jane Hart – top of mind of course! Reading the MWL book by Jane Hart, blogs and participating in this L & D challenge experience

K

Kids – playing and watching the kids gives me insights into so many things

L

LinkedIn and Lynda.com – Lynda.com means I don’t have to remember how to use different tools I can just jump into a video for the specific thing I need to do. I use it as a performance tool.

M

Mentoring others new to L & D, keeps me fresh and thinking about my practice. Great for consolidating my learning and keeping fresh.

N

Networking – both with learning social groups and outside of learning groups e.g. talking with another parent from my daughter’s playgroup I found out he has a games analytics job and we talked about the commonalities and differences between our professions

O

Online learning courses e.g. Udemy, Moocs, Lynda.com, Elearning guild

P

Personal learning network – I can call friends in my learning network to ask advice or talk and bounce about strategies and they do the same with me. I find this really useful for reality checking

Q

Questions, questions, questions – spending effort in learning how to ask good questions ( so I get quality information back both with collaborating with others such as SMEs and with learning professionals. In fact one year I set this as my main professional development focus.

R

Reflective practice both during projects and after it has finished

S

Sharing – when sharing my learning I often find that those I’m sharing with have extra gems to add and therefore enhance my learning even more and expand my view.

T

Twitter – I find it hard to get to many conferences with family commitments so around conference time I search the hashtags to find out what’s new and what’s being talked about. I’ve also implemented it as a learning tool for a University course I was the Educational Designer for.

U

Udemy – taking some online course such as UX design and also helping a friend with developing her content for her own Udemy course

V

Virtual classroom – attending an Elearning Guild online course.

W

WordPress feed – where I can read both learning related and also non-learning related blogs.

X

Xperience – I know a bit of cheating ;). I find it useful to directly experience a method before implementing it myself if I can. For example, learning about virtual classrooms during a virtual classroom course by elearning guild.

Y

Youtube – When learning to use new tools such as using a new sound recorder. I search Youtube and find someone else has already put a succinct video up and this helps reduce my learning time. Thank you world!

Z

Zen – for me it’s important to take time out from learning and thinking to relax and just be – I often find this a valuable time and when insights come afterwards