We’ve been doing a lot of thinking at work lately regarding how to think about and organize informal learning resources. Our technical team has been focused on designing a “learning portal” for the company. Another group has been working on aggregating online resources for professional development topics. One of our design teams is collaborating on a more complex group of activities and resources around leadership development for our mid-level management team. My own team has been working on adding to the training and resources we’ve been providing to develop skill sets for our designers and trainers. Lots of learning needs, lots of opportunities.
An idea is coming together that can support all of these efforts. Borrowing heavily from an IBM approach I heard about at a recent conference, we’ve been thinking in terms of “Topical Learning Suites.” At work, these are being conceptualized as online access points for a rich variety of learning resources on a specific topic.
That got me thinking about the relationship between this idea and the Learning Environment Design model. Learning Environment Design is conceived as a comprehensive view of learning resources for a specific need. We design a variety of components, and we apply the ADDIE spirograph model to both the suite as a whole, and to the design and development of each of the individual components. According to the model, a learning environment has four major categories of components: resources and tools, relationships and networks, training and education, and supervisor and company support. In the language of the Learning Environment Design model, then, here’s what a Learning Suite might contain:
Resources and tools:
Study and reference materials accessed independently as needed.
- Online databases
- Knowledge management systems
- Study resources: books, articles, book chapters, internet resources
- Job aids
- Podcasts, video-casts
- Reference library
- Procedure manuals
- Technical manuals
- Electronic performance support (process-driven directions for completing transactions)
Relationships and networks:
Active interpersonal connections for ongoing learning.
- Peer support systems
- Expert directories
- Communities of practice
- Mentor relationships
- Collaborative online resources (ongoing blogs, discussion boards, wikis created by experts and active practitioners)
- Professional networks (live and online), e.g. professional organizations, user groups
- Conferences and professional meetings
Training and education:
Formal learning activities.
- Classroom training
- Online learning
- Blended learning programs
- Formal coaching after training
- On-the-job training
- E-briefings (communications, no activities)
- Academic courseware
- Certificate, certification, and licensing programs
- External seminars
Supervisor and company support:
Learning support activities that require active engagement by company management.
- Ongoing feedback and coaching (designer may provide models and tools)
- Communication activities to influence learning readiness and application
- Support for on-the-job training and coaching activities (e.g. selection, development, and recognition of trainers/coaches)
- Action learning programs
- Rotation and other experiential learning programs based in workplace activities
- Learning recognition programs (e.g. certification, designations, job title changes, bonuses, pay raises, or promotions based on demonstrated learning)
While there may be a lot of other tools in the work environment that can be used to support learning, the components listed above can all benefit from deliberate design by an expert in learning.
What do you think? Have I captured everything we should consider “designing” as learning professionals? Let me hear from you so I can solidify my thinking on this subject!