Improve your learning experiences

Photo Credit: thinkpublic via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: thinkpublic via Compfight cc

This is the last piece in the series of posts about how we’re transforming our learning function.  My apologies for the delay in getting it out – it fell off my radar.

To bring you up to speed, we’re attempting a new way of creating L&D support at my workplace, using a format that we’ve developed over some months.

The last space in the model we’re using belongs to improvement. It’s the space that people in the L&D industry seem to gravitate to first when we talk about how we’re doing this, most likely because it’s the most comfortable – as far away from the informal and disruptive space we recommend first.  It contains the parts that most find comfortable – the formal and sustaining activity that we recognise from ‘traditional’ learning.


Face to face courses

Put your feet up, take the weight off, you’re in familiar L&D territory in a formal course. Er…sorry, you’re not.  Face to face courses now will be much more experiential activities.  Take a fire marshal course for example.  You won’t need to learn about the fire triangle, where to order your hi -vis vest from, how extinguishers work, the other marshals you’ll work with, etc as you’ll have completed that activity in the lead up (or scheduled after) the course.  The classroom based activity will be an experiential event, taking you through the process in a live environment, dealing with a fire drill, managing a missing staff member etc.  This isn’t going to be the typical classroom activity.

Elearning modules

There are many more qualified people than me to comment on what makes a good quality elearning module.  What we’re doing is applying some key design principles within anything that is published.  The modules we use:

  • Are no more than 26 minutes in length; this is to fit with our 52 minute guide
  • Are authored by Subject Matter Experts and quality assured by us; we don’t have time to design and ‘own’ the content
  • Are simple; if we can find the content anywhere else freely available on the web we remove it and link to it
  • Have no policies within them – they’re linked out.

External assessment and Qualifications

There’s a lot of guff spoken about professional qualifications and professional bodies but they do have a place in validating someone’s performance to a verifiable standard.  I don’t accept that they should become the driver for learning; they’re measures of performance, not learning.


This is where L&D can performance support much more effectively than solely through provision.  If the business needs to develop/improve/review an area, use people who need to learn skills the situation required to develop it.  It takes some input and regular moderation to check the expected performance standards are met, but is a way of making the learning activity part of the work and vice versa.

So that’s it, the way we’re approaching L&D.  Feel free to look through this post and the previous posts here, here, and here to look at how we’re working and ask us about it.  Comments, as always, very welcome.

5 thoughts on “Improve your learning experiences

  1. Thanks for the post Andrew. Yes, you’re right in that face to face courses are not going away but there’ll be more experiential. Sometimes we forget that. We think the company is hell bent on removing any F2F courses and get everything online in an effort to save money. In my experience, the best type of training I’ve had were experiential when I was in the military. Situational activities that required you to play out roles placed under demanding situations that you would face in your work. They were memorable experiences that immediately got you thinking and applying what you learned. Of course, our facilitators were experts – who had keen observation and who held lengthy briefing and debriefing sessions which at times, were just as long as the actual activity itself. This is a completely new skill set for many L&D people (but I would see that if we’re not the SMEs ourselves, we support the SMEs to provide this high level of facilitation in experiential activities).


  2. Good stuff, Andrew. I think this is a winning strategy. It’s similar in some ways to the design formations idea I’ve been expanding on for the past few months:

    This gets at the propensity we seem to have to package things together in tightly knit prescriptions. These prescriptions tend to be more closely related to traditional expectations than they are to good strategy. I posit by changing L&D’s mental frame, we can work toward changing habits and service expectations that are, in the long run, a collectively stupendous waste of time and effort.

    We HELP by providing resources to help prepare folks for work challenges. We HELP by focusing training on skill acquisition – and THAT requires practice. We HELP by recommending the placement of support resources. We HELP by architecting assessment mechanisms that provide our business partners with assignment confidence.

    We DO NOT HELP by focusing our attention on packaging content (information). We tend NOT TO HELP by ignoring or marginalizing practice and support in our service strategies. By taking the easy way out we miss the point of learning. We (think) we do learning TO people. We SHOULD think we can help provide resources that make it easier for folks to do the right thing (or make the right choices) and harder to do the wrong stuff (including getting lost in the shuffle). We SHOULD think we can apply our talents to creating opportunities for practice and resources for support.

    Sometimes all folks need is a good starting point or a nudge in the right direction.

    The only adjustment I’d make is to the length of the module segments as folks may be encouraged to “fill the bucket” to the fill line if there’s only one serving size. I like your 52 > 26 but you may want to follow that up with and encourage smaller bits. 13 > 6 > 3 are nice round measures and for the types of stuff (resources, advice, guidance, demonstration, orientation, explanation) your SME’s will be providing, a eight 3 minute bits may be far more effective and flexible than one 26 minute bit. A good solution is more than the sum of its parts.


  3. Thanks Steve – we’ve stripped the 52 down recently as we also realised that 26>13>6/7 as people need to know they can take 4×13 or 2×26 if required. Trying to take 14×3 could be more problematic – we’ll have a ponder of it.


    1. We’re looking at doing similar things for our folks. We view this as “establish better habits at the beginning” by instilling the “just enough” perspective.

      When folks start out with module resources, they tend to think in terms of more. Less is sometimes better:)


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