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Pam Jones

Eight Interactive Ltd


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Rethinking Learning Design in the 21st Century


I attended a webinar ‘Rethinking Learning Design in the 21st Century’ on 9th October 2013. Presented by Lance Dublin, CEO & Chief Solution Architect, Dublin Consulting via The ELearning Guild, the title of the session, which Lance wanted to iterate, has been covered by many.

The webinar discussed four key questions and this blog summarises the discussions around these questions.

1.     What are the characteristics of 21st Century Organisations?

In summary?

It’s more about speed, innovation, technology, collaboration, and connectedness.

It’s less about money and time.

Now there is no time, you can’t get enough of it. You can always get more money, more resources but not enough time. There is urgent demand for learning so according to one participant “It’s not  about perfection, getting it done is enough.”

2.     What are the learning trends and on-the-job performance?   

Key trends mentioned: MOOCs, simulation, games, cloud based learning, virtual learning, knowledge management. However, thinking about the bigger picture, the points below summarise some of the learning trends discussed. 

Learning design then

·         Designing information, learning, support or giving people the right tools.

·         Elearning.

·         Spend more money to get better learning.

·         Thorough needs analysis completed.

Learning design now

·         Context, content and tools - ALL need to be scoped in learning design.

·         Learning at the speed at work/need.

·         High impact learning is needed at low cost.

·         Now not enough time to do this so it’s completed quickly.

These trends are leading us to a design learning differently.

3. What we can take from learning design models?

The webinar went on to look at various models which have been used in context of learning design.

·         Analysis Design Development, Implementation, Evaluation (ADDIE)

·         Humane Performance Technology (HPT)

·         Business Process Reengineering (BPR)

·         Six Sigma

·         Lean

·         Critical Mistake Analysis (CMA)

·         Successive Approximate Model (SAM)

We shared our thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of these models. There were many recurring themes. These models provide structure, but the processes can be complex, time consuming, and are often not learner focused.

Given we had identified that we live in a time starved world, where the learning is need NOW, it was interesting to know why perhaps some of these models don’t work; and in my experience deadlines are always struggling to be met.

4.     What principles might form the foundation of a new model

So where does that leave us? Lance went on to share his thoughts on how we could approach learning design in the 21st Century with his eight principles:

1.       Work from right to left – fully understand what success will look like from all angles

2.       Use learner’s language – define skills, attitudes and behaviours

3.       Apply action learning – get something out there rather trying to get the perfect learning design; then learn from it and iterate it.

4.       Appreciate ROA (Return on attention) - In a world where we are overloaded with information through all media, learning has to capture the learner’s attention quickly and make an impact quickly.

5.       Leverage the power of process - develop learning processes that generate content and knowledge rather than discrete activities that house it

6.       Build performance environment - Create multi-faceted, multimedia environment integrated with work, rather than events which are separate from work

7.       Participate agnostic behaviours - Use the full range of tools and techniques and take best attributes from diverse design methodologies

8.       Build in WIIFM (what’s in it for me) – design has to take into account value for there to be successful implementation

A very thought provoking session which ended with this quote by Frank Lloyd Wright

“Every great learning designer [architect] is – necessarily - a great poet. He must be a great original interpret of his time, his day, his age.”

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Pam Jones


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