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Swiss e-Learning Conference 2011 (#SeLC11)

April 5th, 2011 Martin Raske 2 comments

Formal versus informal learning: A topic that was brought up again under the umbrella topic of "Workplace Learning" at the Swiss e-Learning Conference 2011 in Zurich.

April 5th

The discussion about formal and informal learning seems to motivate professionals so much that they do not consider themselves too good for loopy comments. Professor Dehnbostel, for example, said very excitedly: "If you cook a soup, you are practicing informal learning!" This actually means that every single thing we do - breathing, eating, walking, etc. - is in fact learning. In the final consequence this comes down to the equation life = learning = me, myself and I as training professionals are so incredibly smart and important.

The other quote comes from a tweet I saw about a presentation from Dr. M. Rohs. I hope the quote was not correct: "Informal learning needs a sheltered place." If that's true, then cooking a soup must only happen in sheltered workshops. And I always thought that in the contrary informal learning is informal, because it does happen in real life. Not sheltered. Exposed!

[It turns out that the tweet I was referring to was omitting the most important part of the statement (see comment from Dr. M. Rohs to this post) . Please read the very interesting article from Dr. M. Rohs as well.]

My position: Informal learning is probably happening a lot. And I am sure it plays an important part in our lives. As a training professional, however, I am not so much interested in trying to formalize informal learning but rather let it happen and - maybe - facilitate it, if possible. But I think that the big bonus of informal learning is that it is informal. As soon as training professionals start structuring it, it becomes formal - and less exciting and less effective.

4-T Model - A new way to categorize training

February 21st, 2011 Martin Raske 2 comments

Sometimes it is hard to explain to Subject Matter Experts how they should organize / structure their content. They naturally are under the impression that everything they know is equally important and thus must be packed into the training they ask you to create for them. Instructional designers know, though, that not every content is equally important for each learner. We also know that learners are very different in the way they acquire new knowledge or adapt new behavior. Until now, though, it was always somewhat difficult to provide SMEs with a comprehensive approach to structure their ideas.

For this purpose I have developed a new model to structure training. I call it the 4-T model:

Teaser - Make people aware of the content, of what might be in it for them, show them why they should invest some time to learn more about this specific topic or why they should indeed change their behavior.

Teaching - The part where knowledge transfer happens. This is often referred to as 'training' but that's actually incorrect: The teaching part explains the processes, the structure of the content, the reasons why it is important and how it is interlinked with other topic areas.

Training - This is where most of the initiatives fail: In order to learn something, you have to practice it. Training means like in sports or when playing an instrument: Do it over and over again and get better and better at it. More often than not we do not foresee enough time for training in so called 'training' initiatives.

Testing - If individuals want to be sure that they have mastered a topic, a test can help. If a company wants to be sure that a certain group of people have the same level of know-how, a certification might be a good idea. If testing is well designed, it can be an important part of a learning concept.

The advantage of this model has proven many times already, even though it is barely a week old. Amazingly enough it not just helps SMEs but also training professionals a lot. Some of them came back to me and told me that they were waiting for a structure like this to understand what they are producing even better. It also turns out that in the field of technology-based learning this structure is very helpful - whether you produce a Learning Nugget (Teaser) or a Web-based Training (Teaching) or an online simulation (Training) or an eTest (Testing), it all falls into place.

Feel free to start using this structure, but please remember to mention my name if you do.

Wissenswert Blog Carnival - How do you implement Workplace Learning?

November 11th, 2010 Martin Raske No comments

Training organizations have realized, that they start loosing their monopoly on learning. Employees do dare to organize themselves. More than 90% of what you need in your  current job was not learned by formalized learning interventions but in informal learning situation, such as learning on the job, discussions with peers or mentors, etc. etc.  That's the answer you usually get if you ask the question. This situation frightens training organizations - but it shouldn't.

The new world of learning is based on a new mindset - sharing instead of hiding, collaborating instead of instructing, acting instead of reacting. Technology enables us to support learning processes in companies at the workplace. Today it is more crucial than ever to stay up to date. Life long learning - it's not by chance the title of this blog - is an integral part of our lifes. Not too long ago, training organizations did nothing else than deliver training content. These days one of the most important tasks is to facilitate learning at the workplace. Probably the biggest difference between the two models is the fact that modern training organizations today need to provide platforms and options - not just solutions. They have to make sure that employees are able to intaract with each other. That they are able to collaborate and share their knwoledge. It's no longer key to collect know-how within the training organization and spread it from there. It's more important to tap into the existing know-how of the organization.

Learning at the Workplace is fundamentally different than learnign in classrooms. Time is scarce. Distraction lurks behind every incoming e-mail. But: The problems are pressing. The need for an answer is immediate and often cannot wait. And: The situation is such that it optimally supports learning processes - if we find a solution to a problem and apply it, we tend to remember it much better than if we discuss it in a classroom session and are not able to apply it straight away. Because it is fundamentally different, learning organizations have to re-think the way they deliver formalized learning content as well. Also this content needs to be presented in short chunks. The Learning Nuggets format - as mentionned in one of my previous posts - is a very good example of Workplace Learning.

One of the next challenges we will be facing is to re-define the workplace. Worklpace and working time will be moving away from the actual premises of the company. Employees will be online whenever and whereever they are. Thus the workplace will be mobile and so will be workplace learning.

What do I do to support these changes? I am convinced that the first step to help the organization to start moving into the direction described above is to start talking about the changes. I run several workshops on this topic to show people of all hierarchical levels the changes that are looming ahead and raise their awareness for it. We have also started to provide much shorter self-paced training material: Our Learning Nugget concept is a great success. This year we will also start - against all odds - to run a Mobile Learning pilot on all major mobile platforms such as Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android. There is a pilot going on as well, where a whole new concept of how to build office space is tested - a much more flexible environment that leverages new technologies and new work-life-balance models. The combination of this with new ways of delivering/supporting training will be tremendously exciting.

Life Long Learning - in chunks of just a few minutes

October 3rd, 2010 Martin Raske No comments

The latest trend, which seems to create a lot of interest, are so called "Learning Nuggets". This piece of learning/information or information/learning is no longer than 5 minutes and consists of either an interactive learning program or just a little motivating movie.

When we started to produce and use these Learning Nuggets, I was very sceptical. How can one learn something in the span of just 5 minutes? Take learning a language, for example. You can hardly learn a single word in just five minutes. But then I realized that the potential of short pieces of learning lay in the chance to reach people and raise their interest in potentially interesting topics. It's like a marketing campaign for learning, tailored for a time where time is scarce. If we can wrap one single grain of potentially interesting information into a motivating short piece of learning software, we might have a greater reach than if we produced hours of designed learning material on this specific subject. Todays learners are used to learning at their own pace. They are used to get the information they need. What they might be lacking is the overview of what's out there. Something that grabs their attention. Once they find something, that interests them, they are willing to spend more time on the subject - the dream of every teaching professional.

The reality proves the theory to be right. Since we had launched the Learning Nuggets, people like them and our records also show that they spend more time on the topics we propose.

Please refer also to the little interview I gave about this topic (in German) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhns0DRPI44

And I am proud to present: Management in a Nutshell - open for the public:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4_qCx4BiH4

Podcasts - a quick way to distribute content

September 23rd, 2009 Martin Raske No comments

A quick way? Did I just write this?

I was producing a Podcast during the last three nights and since then I don't think of it as a quick delivery tool any longer. Maybe I was doing it the wrong way: I had a few interviews with different people who were involved in a change project. The project went really well and everybody is excited about the change. So I asked them a few questions about what made the project so successful and they answered. I had 4 hours of recorded material at the end.

Then I went back with my laptop and started cutting the material. My goal was to only use the peoples voices - no additional speakers, no intoduction, no explanations. What those people had to say should be enough, I thought. In order to find the parts of the interview that I could potentially use I had to listen to all of it again - 4 hours. Then I had to cut the stuff and modify some of it (some of the candidates spoke way too low). Then I had to bring it all into an order that made sense, re-shuffle and add some music to make it a bit more interesting. All in all I spent 16 hours - not counting the time for the interview - to get a 10 minutes piece worth sharing with my client.

I wonder, if that's the normal rate for a project like this. To me it felt way too long. I don't think I will ever be able to sell a Podcast as a quick and easy solution to distribute content ever again.

Categories: eLearning Tags: , ,

Sichuan Approach

July 15th, 2009 Martin Raske No comments

'spicy, hot, fresh and fragrant' - these are the four words that best describe the Sichuan Cuisine.

The Sichuan Approach for an e-learning initiative is similar.

Instead of just providing a traditional Web Based Training - and maybe even make it a mandatory training for the company - try to speak to the hearts of the learners by spicing the thing up.  An engaging video campaign that tells a story about why this specific topic was so important for a group of people or a single person and why knowing about it or behaving in the same way would be of great benefit for everybody. Spend some money on this video - rather than spending it on making a dull WBT a little bit less dull. Make this video fresh and fragrant so that people start talking about it. With this layer of the mix you will grab the attention of your audience. And they will learn a lot about the motivation of thinking about the topic.

On a second layer you can always have the - mandatory - e-learning to explain the pure basics of the concept or tool or process. Once people are engaged and motivated to know more about the background, they will much easier accept a less engaging WBT - and in the best of all cases you don't need to make it mandatroy because people want to do it anyway.

Categories: My thoughts, eLearning Tags: ,