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Rethinking Learning from the Bottom Up

Written by: Bill Sherman on Wednesday, 23 December 2009, 7:36 PM

Recently, I’ve been rethinking how organizations approach learning programs. Historically, organizations designed learning initiatives from the top down. They identified a need and assigned resources to create training that fit a business objective–onboarding, new product training, soft-skills development.

These training programs often form the backbone of an organization. Some of them are developed internally while others are purchased off-the-shelf.

Yet, good instructional design takes time to design, develop, and test. The ADDIE model of instructional design, which has been an industry standard for years, shows strain when it’s applied to concepts of social learning.

  • Traditional instructional design aligns a proven methodology, organizational support, and resources
  • Bottom up social learning (created by peers) produces quick, dynamic solutions but may lack organizational support or learning methodologies
  • We can no longer think of learning events as single classroom or e-learning events. We have to ask questions about how the learning program integrates into the organization’s social learning culture.

  • Will there be a group collaboration tool–a blog, a wiki, or an social networking community
  • Will senior mentors and SMEs be involved in this knowledge-sharing tool?
  • How will new ideas and information be collected, organized, and shared?
  • Will this approach change how people work together?
  • Will this solution change the social graph within the organization?
  • How will new solutions be reviewed and rated?
  • These questions challenge fundamental assumptions in the traditional instructional design process. Organizations have to cede some control to their learners to direct the creation of the learning experience.

    In the next few posts, I will share examples of how social learning either accelerates (or conflicts) with traditional learning practices.

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