Friday, June 19, 2009

Improving on the Model to Deliver Learning Content

Today, a colleague of mine offered a suggestion that I felt worthy of blowing the dust off the blog and putting the proverbial pen to paper. Earlier this month, I attended the Innovations in E-Learning Symposium at George Mason University. On the last day of the symposium, I learned that Defense Acquisition University was actively looking to develop an learning experience for its users. This concept isn’t new, although it was nice to hear that an organization is actively trying to achieve this model. I can only presume—because you know what happens when you assume—that, like Amazon, this model would use smart technology to deliver learning content and training to users based on the user’s behavioral patterns. So, for example, if you consumed several learning resources that dealt with project management (i.e. job aids, courses, manuals), the system would then “push” additional project management learning content to you that you might also find useful, or based on what people with similar interests consumed. I presume this system would also allow users to rate the usefulness or quality of learning content that is provided, then permit users the ability to sort content by highest rating.

When I mentioned this model to a colleague today, she offered what I found was a profound addition. Rather than merely offer learning content based solely on behavioral pattern, provide relevant content that is mapped to a user’s job competencies. The reason I found this advice profound is because it attempts to address organizational performance, rather that just offer a new way of delivering learning content. In other words, rather than just offer additional learning content to users, offer the right learning content for users to perform their assigned jobs, not to say that learning content relevant to other job competencies shouldn’t be available to users.

The reason I like this suggestion is because it addresses the organizations real needs, which are better performance, and not just a better method of delivering content to users.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Polarized Professional Learning

Since starting back to school in 2000, I’ve become rather polarized about my own learning, which hasn’t been entirely bad, but I think I’ve taken it a little too far for my personal taste. Nearly every book I’ve read since that time has been something I’ve hoped would further me professionally, for example, Economics, Psychology, History, Poetry, English, and the myriad of Instructional Design books. Again, don’t get me wrong. This has gotten me a long way professionally, but at a cost. I just realized today that it’s been about four years since I read a book for pleasure. Four years? Really?

What got me thinking about this was how I spent my Christmas vacation. I had time off of work, and time off of school. No assignments to complete. No project deadlines to meet. Instead, I cleaned the house, played my guitar, and got all the computers in my house on wireless. Yet, I don’t feel like I accomplished anything. I read no “self-improvement” book, article, or research paper. In my minds eye, I learned nothing new, and that’s my point. No balance.

Well, no more. No more being polarized about learned purely for professional advancement. From today on, I’m making it a point to balance my learning activities. I don’t really know exactly what that means yet, but I’m educated, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out.