Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2013 - (Page 9)
CONNECTIONS | CHARLES JENNINGS
HAS ASSUMED A FAR
MORE PROMINENT ROLE
THAN IT DESERVES
WE NEED TO SUPPORT LEARNING, NOT MANAGE IT
Over the past decade, learning technologies have assumed a
prominent place in the infrastructure and budgets of HR and
training departments. The main technology deployed specifically
for learning has been the learning management system (LMS).
Additionally, our understanding of how learning occurs has
moved on. Performance improvement is most effective (and
fastest) when we learn in the context of day-to-day activities in
the workplace rather than away from them.
Although there is no doubt it has helped automate the
administration and tracking of structured learning activities, the
LMS has assumed a far more prominent role than it probably
deserves. There is an argument that a focus on the LMS as
the principal “manager of learning” has been one of the main
reasons many learning departments are now finding it difficult to
effectively support talent development across their organizations.
WHO SHOULD MANAGE LEARNING?
The only person who can manage learning is the individual in
whose head the processes are occurring. We need to remember
that fact. Learning management is an oxymoron when it isn’t
referring to neural processes going on inside flesh-and-blood. A
little like “stagnant growth” or “Your call is very important to us;
your approximate wait time is 15 minutes.” It sounds sensible on
first hearing, but doesn’t hold up to any analysis.
Almost all of today’s LMSs are based on the concept of the
integrated learning systems of the 1960s. In reality, these
were training administration tools. They replaced manual
record-keeping and scheduling of classes. They were certainly
more efficient and probably more reliable than their manual
counterparts, but were designed for a world that’s long gone.
The term “LMS” was originally used to describe the management
module of the PLATO Computer Assisted Instruction system
developed at the University of Illinois in 1960. PLATO emerged
in response to the challenge of the post-World War II veteran
influx into education and training when ideas about automation
and factory production were at their peak. There was a
requirement for learning departments to match the efficiencies
that were being made elsewhere across organizations with
financial and other people management systems. If technology
could replace manual systems and improve efficiency then this
was seen as a good thing and ssomething to be aspired to.
In fact, most of today’s LMSs are still recognizable as children of
PLATO – built primarily as delivery and management tools for
“Automated Teaching Operations” (the “ATO” in PLATO).The
challenges of the 1960s are no longer the challenges of 2013. We
now know that learning needs to be closely integrated with work
if talent development is to be effective. The days when we could
leave the workplace for extended periods of training is behind us.
MANAGING LEARNING PROCESSES
There’s no doubt, however, that there’s a need to manage the
processes around organizational learning in some situations, but
certainly not all. The principal value is not in the management
of learning processes but in its facilitation and support as an
ongoing and continuous activity. This poses a set of different
challenges for HR and learning professionals.
USING TECHNOLOGIES TO SUPPORT LEARNING
One way to approach the effective selection and use of
technologies to support learning is to first consider the interplay
of needs of the learning department with wider organizational
needs. New technologies, new media and new social tools will be
in use by colleagues supporting the brand and communication
functions, knowledge management, and other areas.
The learning department should explore how these can be
adapted in preference to developing or buying in bespoke
“learning” solutions. Technology is important to support
learning, but it doesn’t need to be learning technology.
Charles Jennings is a director of the 702010 Forum, Duntroon
Associates and the Internet Time Alliance. Email Charles.
Training Industry Quarterly, Fall 2013 / A Training Industry, Inc. magazine / www.trainingindustry.com/TIQ
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2013
From Where I Sit: The Sustainability of MOOCs
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: Top Five Learning Technologies to Watch
We Need to Support Learning, Not Manage It
Supercharge Your Next Leadership Initiative
Boomers & the Technology Gap
Technologies to Manage Information Overload
It's Time to Invest in the 'Performance Zone'
Inroducing Simulation into Learning Technologies: Examining the Key Considerations
The Evolution of the LMS
Bringing Your Mojo to the Virtual Classroom
Merging Social Learning and Technology to Achieve Business Outcomes
Optimizing Workforce Learning and Performance
Badges: Bridging the Higher Education and Workforce Gap
Integrating Video into Training
Tools for Supporting Sales Coaching
Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2013