Learning about learning
As an elearning manager, I have reviewed a lot of elearning during my career. Much of it dumps content out there followed by multiple choice questions. If training is learning new skills, then why aren't we testing the skills they are supposed to learn in our programs? What is the difference between what we do and what marketers do in content marketing? As Harold Stolovich would say, "Tellin' ain't trainin' and trainin' ain't performance."
After considerable noodling, I've come up with four reasons why we assess learning so poorly.
Guild master? Me?
Then the feed started congratulating me. For what? All day long people were congratulating me for who knows what. It wasn't until late in the day that David Kelly presented me with my award as 2016 Guild Master. Apparently he handled that great awkward silence when I didn't pop up by asking everyone to have some fun with me and congratulate me without sharing what as they saw me throughout the day. That was fun. I suppose there is some irony in having the two 2016 Guild Masters presented in absentia this year. After all, we are about the virtual thing in elearning.
I was astounded, humbled and honored to be included with the likes of those who have taught ME so much: Clark Quinn, Jane Bozarth, Chad Udell, Michael Allen, Mark Rosenberg, Allison Rossett, Joe Ganci, Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher. All I know in this business I have learned from those who have been willing to share what they know with others.
So what does a guild Master do, anyway?
Today is the first day back to work after receiving this award, and I'm sitting here wondering what the heck a Guild Master is supposed to do, anyway, when it hit me. More of the same. For me, that's sharing what I know with others. It's not about being the professorial sage on the stage. It's about learning together. Noodling with others on the best way to do things. Mentoring other IDs on dealing with the SME who can't meet deadlines, who don't get this learning thing at all and want to dump more content than any human can absorb in a few days into a 15 minute elearning module. I have loved developing the IDs on my teams, watching the lightbulbs go off, and seeing them move into better learning for their clients. I've also watched them carry that mission forward. (My husband calls that the cult of Jean Marrapodi. )
It's reminding people that the goal of your learning must be able to be encapsulated in one high level sentence. In the end, what do you want them to KNOW and DO? then finding a way to assess that. It's about assessing the right things. Not vocabulary. It's about making things look good so people aren't distracted and the information is organized. It's about listening and learning from others. It's about tweeting new ideas. Retweeting great ideas of others. Taking scissors to red tape. Documenting processes to see how convoluted they are. Challenging "because we've always done it that way".
It's about always learning. Not just what we do for a living, but applying tangential thinking to what we do to make it better. This year I've been working on human computer interface design and learned a ton from the world of design thinking, and interface design, and the way they explore people's needs to solve problems. We don't do that enough.
It's about attending conferences, sharing workshops and learning from others. I leave on such a high from a conference and can't wait to try out the new discoveries. It's also about connecting with those who are in the trenches making a difference to continue to learn from them.
Teacher by training, learner by design.