Where do we go from here?
AR, AI, UX, API, LMS, HRIS: What is all this noise? What will learning look like in the future? Our environment of learning and training is rapidly changing. More technology is being used and implemented for employee development and there is no sign of it slowing down. As I read about augmented reality programs or user experience techniques it is all so very amazing and wonderful but at the same time mind boggling. The field is changing so rapidly, it is almost impossible to be able to learn and use all the new technologies. There is also the problem that once it is learned, more new technologies or updates are released and then there is more learning plus teaching. Generational learning comes with different expectations and approaches to learning. More and more workers are expecting learning on demand rather than directed learning through their OD or L&D departments. Workers and employers no longer want knowledge training because it is obtainable almost anywhere, they need applied knowledge skills focused in the right direction. On top of that, employers are wanting data analysis, reporting, and proof of financial benefit for training. Our profession is becoming more complex with no end in sight.
Last month I was speaking to an individual who was hiring training professionals. This person was complaining that qualified people in the learning and development field are very difficult to find these days. When I asked why, this individual’s reply was that people in this field have started specializing in certain areas such as classroom training, instructional designers, specific technical training or LMS administrators. The hiring manager’s complaint was that a specialist was not what they needed but rather someone who could do it all and can do it fast.
It is no wonder that individuals in the training and development field are beginning to specialize because it is an overwhelming feat, if not impossible, to be able to “do it all.” Many employers don’t seem to understand this changing environment but as current training and development professionals move into leadership positions, this will start to change. Being a member of ATD shows that you are passionate about your chosen career and there are many tools at your disposal to help in your professional development. The chapter board is dedicated to bringing you monthly programs that are designed to help. ATD international memberships allow access to research reports, discounts on trainings and conferences, online classes, free Webinars and more. Networking opportunities at the chapter and international level are valuable in connecting with others in sharing ideas. It is up to you to take advantage of the many opportunities available. Thank you for being a member and being passionate about the Learning and Development profession.
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Learning objectives are wimpy
A typical learning objective focuses on what each person supposedly needs to know, ignoring whether this knowledge will actually lead to useful action.
Instead, to create elearning that changes real-world behavior, we have to first identify what people need to do, and only then decide if there’s anything that they need to know.
Identify the action, then the knowledge
Many people start their design by writing learning objectives. Instead, it’s helpful to first choose a business goal for your project and then identify each “action” needed to reach that goal. (See action mapping for lots more on this.)
What’s an action?
“Put out the fire” is an action, because it takes place in the real world and helps us achieve our goal of a fire-free environment. We don’t hire firefighters because we want them to “describe techniques used to put out a fire.”
Follow the money
A lot of us have been told that an objective like “define pathogen” is good because it can be measured. But are you willing to pay someone to “define pathogen” for you? Or would you rather have them “kill pathogens on imported fruit,” such as the apple you’re about to eat?
Actions lead to lively activities
A course ruled by conventional learning objectives like “define pathogen” will have simple fact checks and Jeopardy games. A course dedicated to supporting real-world behaviors like “kill pathogens on imported fruit” will be more likely to have realistic simulations, such as an activity that requires learners to assess a crate of apples for possible pathogens and take the appropriate actions.
Yes, we have to make sure that our learners know what a pathogen is. But action-based materials will go far beyond that learning objective and help learners practice the behaviors that will make a real difference in the world.
To identify what learners need to know, we first have to identify what they need to do. Only then can we determine if the problem really is a lack of knowledge. And by designing our material around real-world actions rather than just knowledge, we’ll create lean, lively materials.
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Build your performance consulting skillsStop being an order taker and help your clients solve the real problem. The Partner from the Start toolkit helps you change how you talk to stakeholders, find the real causes of the problem, and determine what type of training (if any!) will help.
Design training that mattersMy book Map It helps you turn training requests into projects that make a real difference. With humor and lots of examples, Map It walks you through action mapping, a visual approach to needs analysis and training design used by organizations around the world.