In a (rare) fit of tidying, I was moving from one note-taking app to another, and found a diagram I’d jotted, and it rekindled my thinking. The point was characterizing social media in terms of their particular mechanisms of distribution. I can’t fully recall what prompted the attempt at characterization, but one result of revisiting […]
Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. implementing 70-20-10 is not simple. Sharing 50 suggestions on putting 70-20-10 to work has consumed five posts spread over two months. Today the series is complete. Here’s what you’ll find: Post 1 Post 2 Post 3 Post 4 Post 5 Post 1 People learn their jobs by […]
In thinking about how organizations can ‘learn’, it strikes me that everyone needs to be simultaneously learning and teaching. How does that happen? I think it can be scaffolded, but it may also be an inherent trait. A number of us are talking more about working out loud: Jane Bozarth and Harold Jarche talk about ‘narrating […]
Donald Taylor recently published an article titled ‘What does ‘LMS’ mean today?’. In it Donald posited something I’ve been advocating for years.
It is this.
Learning can only be managed by the individual in whose head the learning is occurring.
Of course external factors – such as other people (especially your manager and your team), technology, prevailing culture, general ‘environmental’ factors, and a range of different elements – can support, facilitate, encourage, and help your learning occur faster, better, with greater impact and so on. But they can’t manage the learning process for you. That’s down to you alone.
This raises an important set of challenges. One of which is “if learning is managed by the learner, what will the technologies that support her look like in the next 3, 5, 10 years?”
One thing we know for sure. They won’t look like the learning management systems installed in the vast majority of organisations across the world today. Sadly, many of these meet Marc Rosenberg’s description as ‘course vending machines’.
Keeping the CEO out of Jail
In his article Donald quotes Andy Wooler, Academy Technology Manager at Hitachi Data Systems Academy, as saying:
“LMS too often stands for Litigation Mitigation Service.”
Andy was not dismissing the need for LMSs out-of-hand. He was simply saying that often the technology is used just to keep records in case something goes wrong and there is a need to produce evidence to support the organisation’s case in court – or, hopefully to avoid court altogether. Many organisations – especially those in highly regulated industries – take this view. In the past that strategy provided a more robust defence than it does now (see an earlier article about compliance training for a discussion on that issue). A record that someone had completed a compliance course may have won the day in the past, but is less likely to do so now. However, compliance course completion often has little, if anything, to do with learning and certainly won’t contribute much to building the high-performing cultures every organisation needs to aspire to if it’s to be successful.
A Tool for (a fading) Industrial Society
In his article, Donald also gave a pen-sketch of the origins of the Learning Management System (LMS) as training administration systems.
LMS technology emerged from a need to automate process management and record-keeping systems in the post-World War II era when the focus was on industrialisation and the development of mass production techniques. With millions of returned servicemen and women re-entering education and training there was a need to manage the process of classroom training more efficiently. LMSs appeared alongside the automation of other organisational processes – financial systems and HR management systems (HRMSs).
But LMSs were a step on the road, not an end in themselves.
The management modules of Systems such as PLATO (arguably the first LMS) the Computer Assisted Instruction system which was developed at the University of Illinois in 1960 (and finally shut down in 2006), were developed to support automated teaching operations (the ‘ATO’ part of the name) in a world where standardisation and automation were the primary goal. They were conceived and developed to primarily solve an organisational problem, not necessarily to improve the learning experience for the individual learner or worker.
We need a lot more, and a lot different, from whichever technologies we select to support the development of our workforce today and into the future
Moving to the Future
The diagram below gives an idea of challenge facing us as we move into a world where learning management is in the hands of each individual and their supporting ecosystem.
In a world where the majority of learning is in the workflow and most of it is ‘informal’ (self-directed or undirected in the moment of need), the idea of pouring large amounts of your organisation’s L&D budget into a concept and technology that was designed to make easier the scheduling of courses and programmes is not a sensible one to take.
Of course we will need technology to support learning. Even more so than ever before. But, as noted earlier, the technology we need is a long stride away from that which most organisations currently have in place.
My colleague Jane Hart has written about this challenge for some years (see here for an article by Jane from 2010). She sees the future of technologies supporting learning as a mash-up of social co-operation and collaboration tools aligned with the emerging social workplace. More importantly, Jane provides advice that L&D can’t sit alone. Learning leaders need to work with their colleagues in IT and Business Operations to get the right tools in place. To that I’d add the need to work with Internal and Corporate Communications colleagues, Brand specialists, Knowledge Management teams as well as your extended value chain.
I think Jane’s absolutely correct. The tools that will be used to support (but not manage) learning in the future will principally be drawn not from a learning-centric focus but from other areas(although I believe the LMS will live on to support formal education and may extend to a limited extent to supporting structured experiential learning). Her Top 100 Tools for Learning is probably a good place to start looking.
The Rise of PKM
My diagram above points to PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) as an important focus area in supporting the learning-work interlink. Harold Jarche has written extensively on PKM and you can download his PKM Whitepaper from here. If you want to learn more about PKM I’d recommend mining Harold’s blog.
There is no doubt that both social learning tools and PKM tools and processes will be vital to support learning management of the future.
However, it’s important to always remind ourselves that any technology can never be more than a supporting actor in the play.
In the end we each manage our own learning to suit our immediate and longer-term needs at our own pace, in our own time, and in our own way.
(I have written more extensively about the challenge of ‘Managing Learning’ in the ‘The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual’ a book to be published by John Wiley & Sons and edited by Rob Hubbard)
More than ten years ago I read The Knowledge Creating Company. If I may summarize 400 pages from a vague memory, the gist was that I acquire tacit knowledge experientially, say baking a brioche. When I’ve mastered the baking, I explain how I did it, thus making the knowledge explicit. The explicit knowledge is […]
50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10 part 1 of 5 People learn their jobs by doing their jobs. Effective managers make stretch assignments and coach their team members. Experience is the teacher, and managers shape those experiences. These posts offer guidance to managers who want to make learning from experience and conversation more effective. Replacing today’s
My ITA Colleague Jay Cross had a hangout over the weekend and the conversation rolled around to the role of L&D in the new era (related to yesterday’s post). I’ve previously addressed how we can now be using tech for more of the full suite of performance, but it occurred to me that there are some ways we […]
From a conversation with my ITA colleagues, talking about the (self-imposed) death of L&D that Charles wrote about, Jane wondered what we might do if we were starting from scratch. I decided to take this on, thinking about an org that was already in operation, with it’s goals, processes, and practices, and what I might […]
Third post in a series. In case you missed it, here are the first and second. INFRASTRUCTURE Technological infrastructure for social learning Work and learning are converging, and as this change happens, the infrastructure of the old corporate learning must go – things like traditional one-size-fit-all in-person training seminars. In its place enters social and informal learning […]
Jane Hart’s post yesterday on The differences between learning in an e-business and learning in a social business got me thinking about the evolution of learning culture in organizations. It’s all to0 easy to mistakenly think of formal learning as the antiquated, primitive way of doing things, something an organization shucks off as it becomes enlightened […]