Recently DeakinPrime hosted a boardroom chat with Elliott Masie, a world leader in digital learning, and a small group of senior learning leaders. The session provided the opportunity to have an in-depth discussion about the future of learning with one of the leading thinkers in this field. Some of the key themes that emerged are described below.
The discussion started with a look at personalisation of learning, with Elliott using television to illustrate the changing behaviours of people. In the last 50 years, TV has gone from a congregational activity where the whole family and even friends and neighbours would gather to watch a program. It was a shared experience with very limited choice. Fast forward to now and we have multiple channels, devices and options. Viewing television is now very much a personal choice and we are not even limited to the broadcast schedules. TV—when, what and how we want. Much like learning, today the learner wants access to 24/7 learning from whatever device suits their learning style.
Learners are seeking to control their own learning agenda and they are also focusing on the value of learning versus the time spent. The drop-off rates for the standard 60-minute webinar are alarming. Elliott put forward that an ideal time for a webinar might be 12 minutes. Challenging on a number of fronts, not least the financial aspect, –what do you charge for 12 minutes of learning? The clear message was that learning should be focused on the quality of outcome rather than the quantity of delivery.
12-minute webinars led onto the topic of learning compression. The five-day residential is now the two-day offsite. The 30-minute SCORM course is now a five-minute video. How do we make learning concise and relevant? People don’t want to learn what they already know, so the key is modular, reusable learning that can be packaged and personalised to suit the individual.
We then moved onto the hot topic of the role of social media in learning. Elliott’s clear message was ’socialisation is not collaboration’. He suggested that we move away from using terms such as ‘social learning’ and focus on how we support people learning together. In a face-to-face teaching environment, we all know that if we want to have successful group work, we need to structure the activity. We group people together, provide an objective or task, the tools to do it with and a time frame for what they need to do. Online learning should be no different. An opportunity for people to chat without a learning focus is equivalent to the social activity at lunch or after-session drinks. For effective learning to take place online, we need to put in place a similar structure online.
Getting people to ‘competence with confidence’ was tackled next with a different take from the 70/20/10 model. Elliott talked about content, context and field truth as being the essential ingredients:
- content—the theoretical knowledge
- context—the environment and application of that knowledge
- field truth—experience from the front line.
All three of these elements are needed to provide an holistic learning experience. For example, rather than just having content from SMEs, content could include stories, learning and experience from people doing the job that we are providing the training for.
We rounded out the discussion by revisiting the staple of online learning – compliance training. How might we develop a new model that does not rely on memorising specific facts? Is open content in the assessment cheating or can we devise new methods of testing compliance that rely on a person’s ability to make the right choices and apply the knowledge correctly? Could we use sampling to test the compliance of an organisation?
Often the path to learning is not having all the answers but knowing which questions to ask, and Elliott certainly knew how to do that.
Elliott Masie’s newsletter Learning Trends continues to explore many of these themes and if you don’t already receive this we would encourage you to subscribe.