Recently, someone from Bloomfire contacted me over LinkedIn and requested me to give answers to some questions. I have been late to respond but thought they were pertinent given the way things have changed in the training world. So let me answer them for myself anyway before I send them to Bloomfire.
From your perspective, what are some of the challenges in writing curricula that resonate with the learner?
The main challenge I see is Knowing your audience precisely. Knowing your audience helps you scope out the training accurately and achieve the right level of detail. It will be the key to any kind of task you want to do; build a product, create a game, or plan training content.
How might these challenges differ from the challenges of yesterday?
I believe the challenges of yesterday were more than the challenges of today. The intervention of Web 2.0 and the increasing tech-savvyness of the learner have made information immediately accessible to one and all. Today, most information is easily searchable, Internet connections are much faster, Web technologies have come a long way and social media has gained ground. We no longer have the challenges of providing learners access to information. What we need to focus on is planning our training curricula in a manner that incorporates hands-on training in a simulated environment, and promotes collaboration with peer and subject-matter experts. The key is in knowing how to leverage social media to make the learning curve easily achievable and in a shorter time.
What are some technology and research trends today that will have an impact on tomorrow?
The study of users in general has revealed that giving the user information based on their existing knowledge on a subject is critical for their success. The research has shown a need for greater user-focus. Tomorrows applications will be increasingly user-focused and minimalistic. Minimalistic because we will have a clear picture of the user’s profile and be able to focus on what the user needs to know. So organizational learning will be designed to support performance, and training will be largely collaborative and exploratory in nature. Learners will be mature and be able to determine their own learning paths. Learners will be more independent and able to access information in a manner that will help them accomplish tasks. In other words, Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) will be a norm.
What might organizational learning look like 10 years from now?
Ten years is a long time and we are already stepping into the era of Web 3.0 where personalization and social intelligence will be key. Ten years from now social and collaborative learning will become commonplace and will be built into the system. Learning will be less controlled, more learner-driven and minimalistic. Formal training will be supported and followed with collaborative, experiential, and exploratory learning. Content will be open and designed to be accessible from all kinds of devices; it will be simple and very specific. For example, the use of a screen shot or graphic can replace the use of words. Information will need to be to accessed faster and during execution of the task. A learner’s performance will be supported by pertinent, short, and instantly available information anytime and anywhere.
Could you envision a 21st century training program for us? What might it look like?
A new employee is hired into an organization and needs training. The machine is automatically setup by the network. Once the employee logs in to the system, he is automatically shown a screen which will predict the first questions on his mind like, what am I here to do? What do I need to learn to do my job? How do I learn what I need to learn to do my job?
The employee is informed by the system that he needs to learn how to use the company’s CRM product to capture and process customer requests. The system finds out based on the employee profile from HR and social intelligence date, that the employee is already familiar with similar CRM systems and does not need to under go the basic-level training. The system automatically directs the employee to the next level of the CRM product training.
The employee learns by working directly on the CRM environment. There are short Whats new? and product overview modules to get him quickly up to speed with the tasks the product is designed to complete. The modules instruct him to interact with the environment in real-time. The modules are not sequenced linear courses but reference-hybrids in any form like demos, examples, scenarios, and real-time exercises on the product. Reference information is easily available on the product interface. The training encourages looking at the help and other references like real-time use cases, FAQ information, common problems faced and the resolution.
The goal of such training is to get high-specialization individuals up to speed on the job in the shortest possible time. The training is planned based on learner profile information and studying the background knowledge levels of the learner.
Also, the system will have collaboration built-in as a norm and will suggest appropriate contacts in the CRM domain within the organization. The employee will be able to collaborate with technology similar to tweets, chat and web conferencing to learn from subject-matter experts. Social media tools will allow him to search for existing information on the subject, or start a new live conversation about his queries on the product. Using the tools, the new employee is now able to network within the organization and get acquainted with appropriate persons related to his job.
In short, I am hinting at the use of intelligent-training techniques by leveraging on social-intelligence data.
We’ve seen online communities proliferate, from online communities just for friends (Facebook.com) to communities just for tackling complex R&D challenges from Fortune 500 companies such as P&G (InnoCentive.com). What do you think of organizations supporting their own learning communities?
Supporting organization-wide learning communities is becoming essential so that employees within an organization are well networked. In medium to large-sized organizations, it often happens that knowledge is in unknown pockets with individuals or teams. A lot of the knowledge could be documented and made available, but it is almost impossible to capture tacit knowledge and the knowledge gained from real-time experience. The use of social media connects people based on areas of interest, and aids the discovery of resources with the required domain expertise within the same organization. This positively impacts efficiency on the job and improves employee productivity a great deal. In future, the normal way one does their job in an organization will be using collaboration and social networking techniques. Social media is causing the breakdown of hierarchy to build communities using wirearchy by enabling horizontal and peer-to-peer based communications.
Looking at things from a bigger picture, I’d like to leave you with this note: Are you Ready for the 21st Century?
Are You Ready for the 21st Century ? from Michel Cartier on Vimeo.
What books, blogs, and/or magazines would you recommend for our readers if they’d like to stay current in your line of work?
There are tonnes of great online resources and blogs. I recommend the best-of-breed approach so one can reach out to the maximum number of resources in one area. I suggest going into elearninglearning.com and performing a keyword search. The site filters your information to various levels as you may need. It is also a good idea to subscribe to the ‘Best of’ feed on this site to get a summary of the best blog posts for the month.