Thursday, April 10, 2008

What would you like to do better as a Learning Professional?

I think the Learning Circuit’s Big Question for this month will make each of us introspect quite a bit! At least, I read the question 2-3 times and tried to really ponder on what are the things I personally want to do better as a learning professional.

There are various entities you come across while in a working environment that you think “constrain” or “limit” you to perform your best or perform the way you want to. Some of these entities include the work deadlines, inability to convince the customer on certain aspects of the project, lack of time to learn or induct a new team in the middle of the project, cost, other technology related constraints, and so on. At such times, you wish if you could have things your way, the overall quality of the product you are creating would be much better than what you are currently doing. So, in a nutshell, you have the potential to do it better but you are limited by one or the other so called constraints.

I personally would want to stretch my potential as far as possible and try to do better - especially in the following areas:

  • Understanding my end user better – either by directly talking to them (where possible) or understanding their needs through the customer I am interacting with, so I can add better value in the product I am creating

  • Spend time in “designing” the product well (and not just have a “design” phase in the DLC) and having a design walkthrough

  • Finding out newer ways (by research or interactions) to make the content more engaging and interactive for the learner

  • And most important, to be able to find out (through a feedback survey or similar means) how much impact did the training have on the end user so I can improvise in subsequent work


Clark Starr on April 11, 2008 at 6:50 PM said...

I would like to be putting my expertise towards populations that actually need them rather than an unending stream of corporate professionals.

Kamakshi said...

1. Better product design with more variety in features and interactions across products, even if the same media of delivery are used

2. Evaluation of training effectiveness post deployment

3. Seek opportunities to blend different media to disseminate instruction - podcasts, PDAs, etc. - with a clear understanding of the instructional and visual adaptation required in each case

Manish Mohan on April 12, 2008 at 11:54 PM said...

As a learning professional, I would like to see myself making a greater connect between learning and business needs, and between training and on the job productivity.

In my new role, I would like to build a better learning product that will really prepare fresh graduate for the IT industry and enable them to get a job. This will include not just technical skills, but communication skills and life skills.

I would also like to succeed in my collaborative learning environment experiment and in moving towards a culture of learning.

Sandipan on April 13, 2008 at 9:34 PM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandipan on April 13, 2008 at 9:38 PM said...

I agree mostly with what Sonali has said: To be a better learning professional, I want to understand my end-users, know their needs, their likes and dislikes (that can impact their interest in learning), get time to understand the area of the training, and, as Sonali said, "Actually DESIGN" the training, instead of having a 8-hr Design phase in DLC. Moreover, I would like to have the feedback of end-users, to understand the effectiveness of the training.
Oh! Wish I could do all this, instead of interacting with a few LPMs from the client, and a couple of SMEs (The real SME for me are the people who are actually developing a product, or using it. And sadly, they are rarely accessible.)
A Gold sign-off and a CSI rating! End of project! Is that what training is all about? I have begun wondering the effectiveness of what I am doing!

Sandeep on April 16, 2008 at 3:51 PM said...

As a learning professional, the first and foremost entry in my wish list is to be as good as SME for the learning I am "imparting" rather than developing content and incorporating presentation strategies that have evolved over a period of time by learning professionals. That of course makes quick learning an essential trait of a learning professional. Another approach would be to build subject matter expertise on a domain and then being responsible for all learning initiatives in that domain. This will also put to rest all concerns on SMEs taking over the role of IDs. Let's turn the tables.

The whole idea might seem scary to most of the learning professionals who dread the idea of understanding a new discipline to the extent of being a master of it, especially after giving so many years to the field of instructional design. But, the idea is not always to get into a new territory but to harness your existing qualification. For example, I have seen people with academic background in business administration, mathematics, economics, law, and industrial security working as IDs and creating IT courses. I just wonder what learning masterpieces could be developed if they could use their academic knowledge with ID skills. And believe me we can think beyond off-the-shelf ID courses now when we talk of e-learning. I managed to interact with some of the school students in my neighborhood and to my surprise they knew what e-learning is. (Are interviewers listening?:))They use it quite frequently for studies and this is India.

However, for this consolidation of skills to happen, the industry needs to invest on existing IDs and use the HR strategy of taking domain experts for entry-level ID jobs. This two-fold strategy will ensure that future crop of learning professionals is ready for the challenges.

This model will have implications on the costs but will surely increase the acceptance level of finished products. All costing people take out your pen and paper and see returns in the long term. If not viable for certain projects, keep some people for pure ID skills.

The second entry in my wish list would be to spend more time understanding the needs of end users than just trying to read between the lines from a two line description in a PRD. This can be done by visits to end user work sites, questionnaires, case studies defining the problem.

I would also like to create learning products for masses and make business sense of it. We have the example of NIIT education delivery model as a perfect example.

I think the other things are probably the same as my colleagues have expressed already. I don’t want to sound like a wishful person:)

Term Life Insurance on April 26, 2008 at 12:05 AM said...

Nice Article alotof things to ask from the professionals

Thanks writer

Kulvinder said...

I partially agree with Sandeep. I agree with the suggestion that IDs should try to delve deeper and understand the content, rather than just limiting their roles to applying instructional design strategies to whatever content is supplied by the SME. This is because IDs have to make certain key decisions, such as deciding what should be covered in a course and what should be excluded based on what is relevant for the target audience...And to take this decision and many similar ones, IDs must know the content. Therefore, to perform my role better I would like to read whatever material I need to and take help from the SME to understand at least the basics of the subject.

Considering this, I would agree that one person having a fusion of domain and ID expertise is undoubtedly a good option. However, will that really make business sense to have such fusion experts? Imagine a networking expert waiting for the organization to acquire networking courses. I am sure this person will be on bench at least for half the year. :) The focus of the business development team will shift to probably getting more projects for the domain where there is maximum number of idle experts :) Therefore, I think one inherent quality that IDs should have is the zest to continuously learn, without having any prejudice for any subject. I have myself worked on a variety of subjects without having felt the need for becoming a subject matter expert on any of them. As a matter of fact, I enjoy working on a domain the most that I don’t know much about.

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