On Page 14 of this month’s CLO magazine Doug Lynch does some ‘Mythbusting’ around what they call some Learning Myths.
The ‘myths’ he takes on are The informal Learning Ratio. Learning Styles and ROI. Personally I have some issues with his article.
He challenges the ratio on informal learning but does not supply an alternative. Look around and you will see informal learning happening all around the workplace all the time. When a Millennial Googles the answer to a question; When someone leans over a cube wall to ask a colleague how something is done; when an elearning developer posts a question on Twitter with the #Articulate hash tag and gets responses from their active community; when someone throws a question out on a Linkedin group. The list goes on and one and on. If he has a team of graduate students at his beck and call I’d far rather have them go out and research a ratio than tell me that the one that is out there is a load of hooey. Even better I’d love to see research on best practice to leverage BOTH types of learning to work in harmony.
His next target is Learning Styles. I first learnt about these 20 years ago when I started in the L&D area. At that time I had taken over running a programming training school for a UK Financial institution and my predecessor was and Accelerated Learning advocate. They made sense to me, and I am someone who is happy to use anything that works. I chose to share some of that with the students who came through the 12 week program and we did a learning styles evaluation of all the students in their first week. In one particular case we had an ex plumber who had worked his way through community college to get some programming experience and joined our school. His evaluation showed a very heavy Kinesthetic preference. In the same class I had someone with a very high preference for Auditory Learning. She had done great at school and university and ended up working as a rocket scientist (well an engineer at a UK Aerospace company but ‘rocket scientist’ sounds way cooler.) They were the two strongest learners I had in the class. The reason for that I freely hand over to their intelligence and drive to succeed.
Where I will take credit though is that I designed the courses and supporting learning activities to encompass ALL learning styles and tried to hit multiple intelligences as well (I’m expecting to see that one in CLO next month). It’s just intuitive to know that people think and learn differently. Making sure your learning design (or even better their learning design- see my thoughts on R.I.D.) caters to your learners needs and strengths just makes sense.
His final target was ROI. Again he does a lot of tearing down and little contributing. We know that training on its own will almost never ‘move a needle’ but to simple dismiss it as being too complicated to measure (as he appears to do) is not what I want to read in a magazine that is aimed at learning leaders. In the knowledge economy very little has a clear and easy ROI. If we are going to try and be partners in the businesses we are a part of or support then our job is to look for ways that we can identify how the investment in time and money they put in is going to pay off.