Chief Learning Officer - August 2006 - (Page 15)

CO0806.qxd 7/18/06 4:57 PM Page 15 effectiveness Courses are Dead Jay Cross C o u r s e s have When I tell training vendors courses are of that learning. Certification depends on courses although you always should have the dead, they look at me as if I'd brought a skunk a miserable track option of testing out of prerequisites. In some to their picnic. r e c o r d when it circumstances, utter novices benefit from cours- Roger Shank sums up the failure of training in es because they otherwise lack a framework for c o m e s to changing four little words: It's just like school. The bet- learning. For most other corporate learning, b e h a v i o r. T h e most ter part of two decades of schooling has brain- courses are dead. washed, er convinced, us that courses are the c o m m o n way of The next generation entering the workforce default means of learning. People think of l e a r n i n g one's job doesn't learn like you and me. They work on courses as the basic, fundamental model assignments together. What did you think all against which other modes must compare c o m e s not from that instant messenger stuff while doing home- themselves. Propose that workers learn some- taking a course work was for? They have no patience for one thing through conversation, a game, or trial subject at a time. They're accustomed to learning but from asking and error, and the knee-jerk response is How by discovery. They have little tolerance for irrele- do you know it will be as effective as a course? s o m e o n e. vancies. Ask any recent graduate how they'd like Upon close inspection, you find that courses a day-long corporate training class. You'll get an themselves are not that effective. Only 10 per- ear-full of reasons why those courses are so bad. cent to 15 percent of what is taught in a course I'm in the midst of designing a series of un-work- transfers to the job. Courses have a miserable shops to show professionals how to use blogs, track record when it comes to changing behav- wikis and Web 2.0 technology to leverage cor- ior. The most common way of learning one's porate learning. Here's the design challenge: job comes not from taking a course but from The subject matter is volatile and new innova- asking someone. tions pop up daily. Participants range from Four years ago, someone asked me if e-learning novice to semi-pro. Some will come from non- worked. I told her that for proof that e-learning profits, others from the Fortune 1000. Big can be powerfully effective, I had only to look thinkers will gravitate toward RSS, and those at my son. He has learned more about meteor- we used to call people people will be drawn ology, PERL, San Francisco politics, network to tags. administration, environmental action groups One more thing: the un-workshops cannot and obscure singers than his dad will ever meet more than twice a week for an hour or know. All online. two. The entire program should take no more None of the things I mentioned were courses, than a month start to finish. Rigid courses sim- and this got me thinking. I realized that the ply don't work in an unpredictable environ- course is not the appropriate shell for many ment like this. Participants may want to learning experiences. We all know the story: change priorities in midstream as they gain a The 50-minute class was created for the con- more thorough understanding of the founda- I I Chief Learning Officer venience of the institution, not the learner. tion technologies and how they are applied. The course is a triumph of standardization, so Fresh case examples are bound to crop up. And ingrained in our thinking that we buy and sell of course, there's the need to keep up after our training by how long it takes rather than what month together is up. it accomplishes. It's the industrial model, We decided to adopt a different metaphor. We which puts a higher value on efficiency than are building a community. The community will on effectiveness. You can have learning any take part in directing our emphasis. We may Jay Cross is CEO of Internet color you want as long as it's black. split into several special-interest tracks and then Time Group and a thought Part of the reason I say courses are dead is for reform as a group. We'll invite alumni from prior leader in informal learning and August 2006 shock value. It's to jolt people into considering un-workshops to join in as they like. The com- organizational performance. alternatives. Courses are the bedrock of compli- munity's wiki, Web sites and mail-serves will live He can be reached at on in perpetuity. ance training although I don't consider much 15

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Chief Learning Officer - August 2006

Editor's Letter
Table of Contents
Taking the Lead
Best Practices
Learning Solutions
In Practice - U.S. GAO
In Practice - Army National Guard
CLO Profile
In Practice - PerkinElmer
Case Study
Human Capital
In Practice - Countrywide Financial Corp
In Practice - Siebel
Business Intelligence
Advertiser's Index
Editorial Resources
In Conclusion

Chief Learning Officer - August 2006