Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Training Design

I've been struggling a bit to capture a concept that I believe represents a fairly fundamental shift in how we need to think about Training Design.

Back in 2005, 2006 and 2007, I would regularly show the following slides to help explain the heart of what Training Design is all about and how it has changed over the years. Oh, and I called it Learning Design in the diagrams, but I'm afraid that it's really more about Training Design.

Basically, we conduct an analysis (sometimes extensive, often very quick) to determine what we are really trying to accomplish. We take into account a wide variety of considerations. And we consult our delivery model options to do this fuzzy thing - Training Design. Back in 1987, the dominant tool was classroom delivery and thus, we primarily created training and train-the-trainer materials. We kept these in notebooks which adorn many shelves today (but are getting rather dusty).

(And yes, I know this is a gross oversimplification, but it gets the point across.)

Ten years later, life was good because we had another Training Method available, the CD-ROM allowing us to train individuals.

Yes, we theoretically had this back in 1987 with paper-based materials, but we looked at the CD as a substitute for classroom instruction.

In 2007, we suddenly had a whole bunch of different delivery models. Virtual classroom, web-based training (WBT), rapidly created eLearning, lots of online reference tools such as help, cheat sheets, online manuals. We also had discussion forums, on-going office hours.

In many cases, this makes our final delivery pattern much more complex, but it greatly reduces the time required upfront by learners and allows us to get them information much more just-in-time and with more appropriate costs.

However, when you look at these models, the design is roughly the same. Maybe this more appropriately would be called Learning Design - or eLearning Design - or maybe something else that implies performance support as well.

Now the interesting part ... the heart of the picture and realistically how we approach training design in 1987 is the same as it was in 2007.

My sense is that we may need a new picture because of eLearning 2.0.

Yes, you can think of Blogs, Wikis, etc. as a means of enriching the Training Design much the same as a discussion group alongside formal instruction. Pretty much when Harold, Michele and I worked together to design the Web 2.0 for Learning Professionals Course, we settled on using Ning and it's various capabilities as part of the delivery pattern. This is the same picture as above.

However, what about the case when you are providing tools and really don't have the content defined ahead of time? How about when you build skills around scanning via RSS, social bookmarking, reaching into networks for expertise, etc.? What about when you help individuals about blogging as a learning practice? When you support informal / self-directed / workgroup learning? Is it the same picture?

Maybe it is? Maybe we conduct a similar performance analysis and take into account similar considerations and then provide appropriate structure (delivery pattern). Maybe we are providing a Wiki and conducting a barn raising session?

My sense is that there's something different about it? But I'm so used to having this as my mental model, that I'm having a hard time figuring out what the alternative is?

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