Preparing for the future of learning

This week’s post comes from #chat2lrn crew member, Judith Christian-Carter B.Ed (Hons), M.Phil, FLPI, Chartered FCIPD. Judith is a Director of Effective Learning Solutions, a UK-based learning services company. You can find her on Twitter @JudithELS

Are you preparing for the future of learning and if so, how?   We all know of L&D people future-of-learning-jlswho stubbornly refuse to let go of what they hold dear, most of it historical and deemed to be safe. Some will say that “if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it”, but the growing consensus is that L&D is broken and in desperate need of being fixed!  So, just how can it be fixed and how can we prepare for the future of learning? Inspiration for this post comes from an excellent Towards Maturity* report published earlier this year.

The fast changing world of work

Here’s the thing: we live in a world in which new working practices are fast emerging, new technologies are being adopted, flexible working patterns are becoming the norm, people are working in different locations and often in multi-generational teams. The upshot of which means that how, when and where people learn is also changing, which, in turn, leads to a new and different learning landscape. It is this new landscape that requires an accessible, agile and flexible approach to be adopted by all L&D professionals, as only will such an approach ensure that L&D plays a major contribution to the performance and productivity of all organisations.

For most L&D functions small tweaks will not suffice, it is major shifts that are required: “But for these shifts to take place, learning professionals must also address their own knowledge and practice, and to upskill and reskill themselves. They need to make sure they have the skills to listen, observe, question and reflect how learning can best support the delivery of organisational goals. They need to understand where and how learners are learning, and to understand the potential for all the different forms and channels for learning, and when to create and when to curate. They must be role models in the new learning agenda where close alignment to the business operation must be the norm.” (Peter Cheese, CEO of CIPD, 2016). So, what exactly do these “shifts” entail and, even more importantly, how can they be achieved? This is the focus for our chat.

What does L&D need to do?

We need to:

  • let go and move on
  • change our attitudes towards learning
  • ditch all those learning traditions that are downright unhelpful
  • always stay relevant to the needs of our learners
  • become facilitators, creators of network connections, social mentors, curators of knowledge and learning resources.

How can L&D achieve this?

We need to:

  • improve our “business” credibility
  • demonstrate our value, and help people to develop and build the skills they need to do their jobs
  • move to a more customer-activated strategy
  • respond quickly and work fast, and be accountable to our customers
  • demonstrate key behaviours – all based on actions and not just words. 

This is your task, if you will accept it, to join in and discuss these requirements on 20 October, 2016, and let’s see if we can generate ideas for some much needed changes in true #chat2lrn style.

*If you have time, check out:


Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) about to replace us all?

This week’s post is written by Ross Garner (@RossGarnerGP). Ross is an Online Instructional Designer at GoodPractice and is studying on the University of Edinburgh’s Digital Education programme.

We already use Artificial Intelligence (AI) every day, often without  realising it. Google learns from our search habits; Netflix shows us recommendations; and banks identify odd transactions on our accounts and flag them up as potentially fraudulent.


“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” – HAL 9000

But while these AIs are tremendously helpful to us, do they also present a threat?

Historically, advances in automation have devastated some industries but created others. A fall in agricultural labour pushed workers into factories; the loss of manufacturing jobs across the developed world was followed by an increase in ‘knowledge workers’.

The danger today is that technological change happens so quickly that we might not be able to find new jobs fast enough – a danger John Maynard Keynes warned us of in 1933!

In a 2013 study, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne of the University of Oxford predicted that 47% of US jobs are at high risk of being computerised in the near future. These include transportation (driverless cars), logistics and admin workers (machine learning and pattern recognition), production jobs (robots), service jobs (cleaning robots), sales jobs (cashiers, telemarketers) and construction jobs (prefab homes built largely in factories).

Three years on, with driverless cars already being tested on public roads, it looks like their prediction is coming true.

According to the study, the jobs at lowest risk to some form of AI are those that require ‘fine arts’, ‘originality’, ‘negotiation’, ‘persuasion’, ‘social perceptiveness’ and ‘assisting and caring for others’.

So what does this mean for us, as L&D professionals? If some or all of our work tasks are about to be replaced by AI, how will we we adapt to that change? What responsibility do we have to help our colleagues develop new skills that will keep them ahead of the robot revolution?

And, perhaps more optimistically, might we be at the point where we no longer need to work at all?

Join us in #chat2lrn on Thursday, October 6, 0.8.00 PDT/11.00 EDT /16.00 BST to share your thoughts on Artificial Intelligence and it’s impact on work. Twitter Bots welcome (if they have something to add!)


Frey, C.B. and Osborne, M.A. (2013). The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?’

Networking – A skill you can learn or is it simply nature?

This week’s post is written by Lesley Price (@lesleywprice).  Lesley is a co-founder of the #chat2lrn crew and now, although supposedly ‘semi-retired’, she works part-time for Learn Appeal  and continues to love challenging and being challenged! 


In the Learning and Development community, we so often refer to our #PLN, Personal Learning Network, and the benefits we get from being part of a network. I attended the LPI Annual Conference, Learning Live two weeks ago and it was great to see so many people I knew. In fact, there were so many, it was difficult to find the time to speak to all of them. Over the two days, I had lots of interesting conversations about the event, catching up with people and hearing about things they were working on.

However, with many, I only seemed to have time to say ‘Hi – we must chat later’ or even worse, just waving across a busy room whilst making a mental note to speak to them over the course of the two days.  Some I managed to talk to, but others it was simply left with an acknowledgement and a wave. I was also introduced to people I had never met before, so my network is still growing.

I know that I have a very wide network, in fact a world-wide network which I find invaluable, but it then started me thinking about how my network evolved.   Was it by chance?  It is because of conversations I have when I meet people? Is it nature or nurture or maybe a bit of both?   If I can’t find the time to talk to everybody I know at an event, is it because I know too many people? Can your network get so big that it actually becomes unmanageable and if it does what can you do about it?

Is networking a skill that you can develop? Time is finite – there are never going to be more than 24 hours in a day.  Effective networking is not just about meeting people, networks also take time and effort.  So how much time does it take to maintain a network? How do we decide which parts of our network we foster regularly?  How do we work out the bits of our network that we can dip in and out of because they are self-sufficient and which networks do we neglect because we simply don’t have the time.

As if that isn’t enough, we also have to think about how we connect with our networks. Is it face-to-face, by using social media or by emails and phone calls?

I was fortunate in that I learned many of these skills from my parents, particularly my mother. She also taught me what I should look for when I moved into the workplace and that I could learn by watching and listening.

Personally, I believe that networking is an invaluable skill that we can develop, but how can we nurture it in others?  Join us in #chat2lrn on Thursday 22 September 0.8.00 PDT/11.00 EDT /16.00 BST to see if, between us, we can hone our own networking skills and learn how to foster them in others.

Science of Learning: When and How

2016-08-30_10-00-45The 2014 Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) State of the Industry report, shows organizations spending spent $1,208 on average, per employee, on training and development. Salas and the other authors of The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice, groundbreaking research using a series of meta-analyses, tell us that well-designed training is effective. It also says that the way we design, deliver, and implement training is what impacts the degree to which it is effective, asserting:

… (D)ecisions about what to train, how to train, and how to implement and evaluate training should be informed by the best information science has to offer.

Salas and fellow authors said reviews of training literature found many training efforts to be faddish, disconnected to the scientific literature, and lagging behind other sciences, with training programs implemented for inadequate and wasteful reasons.

Too many training myths still prevail. A 2008 Cisco whitepaper discussed the multitude of learning myths prevalent among learning practitioners. An entire book was recently published on learning myths.

Using research in practice aims to integrate scientific evidence with day-to-day practice in order to gain better outcomes. For example, carpenters may not know all the physics that goes into good practice, but they practice the science as shelving and framing would fall down if they didn’t.

What happens when L&D practitioners don’t practice the science of learning? Not practicing our science means our organizations and learners suffer and resources are wasted.

In this chat2lrn, we’ll discuss whether and how to use the science of learning in L&D practice.


C. Fadel. & C. Lemke. (2008). Cisco Systems. Multimodal learning through media: What the research says

Salas, E., Tannenbaum, S.I., Kraiger, K and Smith-Jentsch, K.A. (2012). The science of training and development in organizations: What matters in practice. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13 (2), pp. 74-101. 42.

Tharenou, P., Saks, A., & Moore, C. (2007). A review and critique of research on training Psychological Science in the Public Interest-2012-Salas-74-101

R. E.  Mayer, R.E. (1997). Multimedia learning: Are we asking the right questions? Education Psychologist, 32, 1-19. Science in the Public Interest-2012-Salas-74-101

Leicester City, Brexit and Pokemon Go: 2016 mid-year review

This week’s post is from #chat2lrn crew member Ross Garner, an Online Instructional Designer with GoodPractice in Edinburgh. 

2016’s been a crazy old year. First Leicester won the Premier League, then the UK voted itself out of Europe. Now, children and adults alike are walking in front of cars and crashing into lampposts as they use their phones to hunt virtual Pokemon.

If you’d put money on any of the above, you’d be very rich indeed.

But are we any wiser this July than we were back in January? Or has the unpredictability of the past six months shattered our confidence?

On this week’s #chat2lrn, we’ll be asking how this year has been for you? How have your expectations compared to reality? How have your ideas changed? What has gone well? What failures have you learned from?

Here are three ideas to get you started:

We operate in complex systems

How did Leicester City overcome 5000-1 odds to top the Premier League? Sure, training played a part. But so too did management decisions, the culture at the club, the mistakes made by opponents, and no small amount of luck.

When you are designing learning interventions, how much do you consider the system within which you operate? Is training the answer, or are there other factors at play? Can the success of one team be replicated to another, or are other factors like environment, team dynamic or luck skewing the results?

In complex systems, where we have a big impact on some areas but less of an impact on others, do you need to nudge rather than lead?

Emotion trumps facts

Throughout the UK Brexit debate – and the US Presidential race – facts have been cast aside in favour of sweeping generalisations. Why do these generalisations stick? Because they chime with the real-world experiences of voters. Because voters have an emotional connection to the candidates and to the ideas.

When we’re developing a new learning initiative, is it enough that we think it will improve the performance of our colleagues or clients? Do our learners believe that? Does it make sense to them, in their context, without knowing what we know? How much do you consider our learners’ hopes, fears, or even their workplace happiness?

Fun matters

Pokemon Go had as many users in its first week as Uber had in 7 years. It makes over $1million in revenue every day. As we look at the seriousness of the world around us, it’s encouraging to see hundreds of people gather in one space to catch a pikachu.

But how does this help us as learning and development professionals?

Well, it tells us that fun matters. Yes, we do a serious job. And yes, performance at work is important. But that doesn’t mean that developing a team, and striving towards a common goal, can’t be fun. What can we do to promote fun? Can fun improve productivity?

We’ll be discussing this, and your own ideas, at our #chat2lrn mid-year review. Thursday, August 28, at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST. See you there!

It is time for learning to get back to messy

Messy learning

This week’s post is from chat2lrn crew member, Fiona Quigley, who works with Logicearth Learning Services based in Ireland. 

I don’t know about you, but I love a bit of a mess – or more to the point, I love working through a mess to make sense of it, structure it and tidy it up in my mind. To me that is what ‘real learning’ is. To have to make sense of something that you are unsure of, to have to put in a bit of effort and to have a bit of angst about it all until the penny finally drops – that is the best of learning for me.

So does this type of thing happen in or get facilitated by corporate L&D departments? Not in my experience. This is not a blame game though – I think it is more to do with the business environment that we are currently operating in. Often L&D get blamed for not ‘providing’ the best learning experiences – but in my opinion, many times they are just responding to what the business is demanding. Business needs people to learn fast and many of us mistakenly think that organising it centrally will be quicker. Quicker isn’t always better.

Getting lost in translation

And the other problem is this – we lose the nuance and complexity; we distort, reduce and obfuscate real learning. We dumb things down and complex learning topics like leadership, communication skills and working well with others often get lost in translation. How many organisations these days continually speak of difficulties in ‘training’ leaders or helping people to communicate and work together better. Maybe it has something to do with trying to make the messy much tidier than it needs to be?

So join us in this week’s messy chat2lrn and share your thoughts on this topic.
Thursday, July 14 at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST.  See you there!

On Our Love-Hate Relationship with the Next Button

Anchal is the founder of Design Storm (, an e-learning company that provides innovative, simple and effective corporate learning solutions.

“Click Next to Continue.”—This seemingly harmless instruction describes e-learning in ways that nothing else does. It says that e-learning:

Continues to be Linear
Linearity has its benefits, and that is why we’ve loved the Next button.

However, adults learn non-linearly, from colleagues, from our own experiences, searching on Google, and referencing various resources. If you’re in the “adults don’t learn linearly” camp, chances are that you hate the Next button.

Is Pushed Top Down
Learning professionals are the creators and owners of content. The Next button is a crucial enabler here. There’s a satisfaction in knowing that we’ve given them all the information they need to do their job. Sometimes we even block the Next button to ensure that they go through everything.

On the other hand, haters of the Next button have been asking—Do they really take our content seriously? What about making the learning learner-centric? Learners should be the creators and curators of their own content. Break the Next button, only facilitate learning.

Is Following the Tried and Tested Navigation Methods
There used to be courses made in Flash with a neat GUI and instructions on how to use the GUI. We believed in the myth that a “scroll” is not user-friendly. A lot of e-learning still follows this tried and tested navigation method. The Next button is king.

When we, however, optimize the content for mobile devices, the Next button loses its charm. Responsive courseware lends itself very well to a more web-like experience. In mobile devices scrolls, swipes, hyperlinks etc. define our online experience. For courses to be linear, do we really need the Next button? Are there other, content dependent, navigation methods we need to incorporate even in linear e-learning?

Is Instructivist to an Extent
We like to inform, provide knowledge and carry our learners through the courses with instructions that will prevent them from feeling lost. The Next button enables this journey.

We ask—What happens to the Next button when we move away from instruction? How does Next button based e-learning adapt when we look at learning by doing, or learning through constructing our own meaning within the context of formal online learning?

Is a One-Way Stream
Online learning can enable a few different types of interactions, such as:

  • Learner to content interaction
  • Learner to learner interaction
  • Learner to expert interaction

Next button enabled e-learning definitely allows “learner to content” interaction. It can be engaging, entertaining, and gripping. Sometimes this content allows learners to comment and rate too.

However, this approach is mostly a one way stream. It’s great for content consumption. Many haters of the Next button feel that by allowing only one type of interaction, e-learning misses out on a lot more that the online medium can do.

I personally feel there are certain topics that should be taught linearly. However, it’s time we started choosing that content carefully. E-learning needs to break some moulds. It does need to utilize the online medium better by allowing people to learn in the way we work—through chaos, through human interaction, and through a collision of several ideas.

Is there a balance we can strike between linear learning and the chaos of the real world? How can that be achieved?