But that’s simple…

Photo Credit: ilmungo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ilmungo via Compfight cc

Seth Godin wrote a cracker of a post today. If you don’t want to click the link, it’s in its entirety below:

All good ideas are terrible

Until people realize they are obvious.

If you’re not willing to live through the terrible stage, you’ll never get to the obvious part.

It’s especially timely as I was having dinner with friends last night.  They’re not involved in learning and development and the conversation got round to work (doesn’t it always). They asked about what I was doing and I explained about the disruptive learning support we’re working with.

They listened for a bit and asked a few questions about why we didn’t have courses and how we utilised peer to peer learning.

I pointed out how we’d still have briefings and webinars, but they’re later options – it’s about helping people help each other. I think this is what  Jane Hart has called Enterprise Learning Networks.  After a few minutes, they looked at me and said:

But that’s simple

As Nick Shackleton-Jones pointed out this week, the ease of access to digital resource means that restrictions on learning become obsolete.

So, if people want to learn this way, if it’s cheaper, if it can be more effective, why are you still doing training dressed up as learning?

Comments, as always, encouraged and welcome.

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5 responses to “But that’s simple…

  1. I’m not an expert, but I had thought that the historical claims, from elearning, to be cheaper had, generally, been found not to be the case.

    That said, netwoked learning as pure Connectiuvism is failry inexpensive.

    I’d also got the idea from Cormier, Downes, Couros and Siemens that networked learning worked best in specific circumstances – circumstances where the body of knowledge was not set, and was changing rapidly. So, there’s a lot of contexts where, it seems, more traditional strategies will work better. I can think of many contexts where the body of knowledge is fairly well set, or where changes are happening rapidly, but the fundamentals remain the same.

    When you add in the data for novices – that they do far better with direct instruction than with unguided forms of learning, that they learn faster, more efficiently, with greater retention and transfer – then there’s a farily clear case, again, for traditional training in many contexts.

    And in contexts where you are dealing with people who may not have the digital literacies, or technical skills equal to the chaos engendered in networked learning, more traditional supports might be a god idea, even if networked learning is the final aim.

    Networked learning seems to have a specific set of contexts which limit it’s viability. A requiremnt for soiphisticated digital literacies, technical expertise, good metacognitive and learning strategies, and dealing with subjects with (comparaitvely) ill defined or uncertain bodies of knowledge. It works less efficientlky than guided training for novices, and on the basis of what little evidence there is, there’s no reason to assume it works more efficiently rthan guided instruction for intermediate learners. It may have advantages for advanced practitioners.

    And, to date, netowrked learning does not have a complete account of how learning works, and it doesn’t have the data to back it up, networked learning events – cMOOCs – have incredibly low participation rates – for reasons which have not yet been fully explored.

    hmmm….

  2. Hi Andrew
    Thought provoking post, as ever. I was interested in the assertion by @wiltwhatman that:
    ‘When you add in the data for novices – that they do far better with direct instruction than with unguided forms of learning, that they learn faster, more efficiently, with greater retention and transfer – then there’s a farily clear case, again, for traditional training in many contexts.’

    I’d be interested in the evidence to support that assertion. Bear in mind the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve here. I’m interested in the retention assertion.

  3. Hi Martin.

    The assertions come from the Cognitive Load based work of Clark, Mayer, Sweller and Kirschner.

    The Ebbinghais curve is based on a context where there is no attempt to retain the information, so I’m not sure how, specifically, that has a relation to my assertion.

    The only aspect of the Ebbinghaus curve I can think of that would bear a relationship is in the realtionship between the strength of the initial memory, and the length of time to forgetting – stronger memories, such as those created by carefully put together forms of direct instruction, that free up cognitive resources, and take account of prior knowledge and it’s role in memory forming – but that would seem to support, and not undermine my point.

    That said, I’m not familiar with the Ebbinghaus curve in detail, so I might be missing something here. If I am, or I’m picking up the point wrong, please feel free to correct me here – as I said, I’m not an expert.

    The main sources for my asserttions are http://cogtech.usc.edu/publications/kirschner_Sweller_Clark.pdf and http://cogtech.usc.edu/publications/sweller_kirschner_clark_reply_ep07.pdf which detail some of the issues with minimally guided instruction for novices. They specify discovery. problem based, enquiry and constructivist approaches with minimal guidance for novoices, and quote numerous RCT’s to support their claims, and the criticisms seem equally applicable to networked learning.

    Clarks Yin and yang motivational processes http://cogtech.usc.edu/publications/clark_yin_yang.pdf has good, research based mateiral on cognitive load and motivation in learners, which also has a bearing

    I’d also pitch in Bandura on self-efficacy, but it’s late, and I have a Bond movie to watch (sorry, first night free in…months).

    Oh, and apologies to Andrew…my first post might come across as frosty, or blunt. Apologies, I was on a tight schedule, and rushed through it.

  4. Thanks for the response @wiltwhitman. Will check out those links.
    Just lost my response whilst typing it in 😦 Basically, corporate ‘guided’ learning has been based on classroom training, which was never delivered at the point of need because it needed to be organised etc and so occurred months later. The learning in the classroom could never be applied for the same reason – the moment of need had long gone. Context is everything and I am talking about ‘knowledge’ workers here but isn’t the reality for knowledge workers that what they need mostly is on the job support, which is pretty much self-guided.
    Sorry if my initial response was unclear.

  5. Thanks for your comments Walt – apologies for the delay in replying but I am on holiday! No offence taken with the tone of your first reply – it’s good that people are able to challenge what I’m saying and I appreciate people taking the time to reply to my ramblings.

    You raise an interesting point in your first reply about networked learning worked best in specific circumstances – circumstances where the body of knowledge was not set, and was changing rapidly.

    That’s good; my organisation is trying to create a substantially different way of working, a different way of delivering its services, and a different culture. This suggests our approach is spot on; we’re looking to move away from best practice since it is often used as an excuse for limiting innovation.

    Thanks to Martin for your comments. We’re keen on developing a more spaced approach to learning to counteract Ebbinghaus.

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