How do you design learning solutions which are not forgotten a day later?

by | Jan 31, 2014 | Articles

Clive Shepherd shares his latest ideas in conversation with other L&D professionals at the #LT14UK Towards Maturity eXchange – Report by Genny Dixon

More than blended learning

We’ve got used to the accepted wisdom that ‘blended learning’ brings greater flexibility, efficiency – and usually more technology. but Clive encouraged us to shift our thinking beyond blending the media alone to blending the whole method of delivery.

Clive first differentiated two types of learning to apply this thinking and make things stick:

Practice makes perfect

The Skills Journey – in the vivid and amusing example of learning Ballroom Dancing, none of us around the table could do anything but agree wholeheartedly that lengthy exposition of theory and history and background knowledge was simply not the appropriate way to learn to dance. It is the practice that is the important thing. However, in corporate learning we often underestimate the amount of practice needed and exaggerate the amount of knowledge you need before you start to practice. What can often happen is that the more information we give our learners, and the more ‘rules’ we ask them to apply, the more anxious they become.

As we consider our learning strategies, there is a fixation on instruction as a technique. Whilst this has an important role for rule-based tasks, it will be through repeated practice that the learner builds their confidence. Post-course, we move into the ‘resources’ phase.

The Big Idea 

The Ideas Adventure – in which we need to shift learners’ attitudes and behaviours, for example in leadership development. Here we need to concentrate on guided discovery, rather than instruction or knowledge.

For some learning, straightforward exposition is a useful strategy, but exploration can form the last phase of the whole blend. ‘who’ll help you to curate the resources while you need our help, but it’s over to you now.’

Relevance of learning Face-to-Face 

Can we pin down what makes the difference when face-to-face? Unless L&D has a really solid argument and understands the situations when F2F is not only desirable but an essential part of the blend, they will find that it is squeezed out for the sake of efficiency savings.

Consider the difference between the experience of live music/drama/sport etc in comparison to the recorded/digital alternative. F2F learning should be special and definitely not routine. It can provide that shared experience that is truly memorable.

Around the table we could all relate to Clive’s points and come up with examples of our own to illustrate them. For L&D, planning which learning strategy to apply in which situation is so important, but we need to remember the other stakeholders in the process – the line managers, mentors and coaches who support practice and exploration in the workplace and provide much of the face-to-face support.

We’re looking forward to reading Clive’s next book…..

Follow Clive on twitter: @cliveshepherd

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