Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In Learning Circuits, the November Big Question is: "Are our models (ISD, ADDIE, HPT, etc.) relevant in the future?"

My answer: absolutely yes.

Although it is a timely question, it is one we have already answered, and often forget that we have.

These days, conversations around "learning" remind me of a public aquarium. The curator brings food to one tank and the fish begin to eat, oblivious to anything around them but the food inside their tank. Meanwhile, the curator has moved on, tending to other tasks and animals that make the aquarium a great place to visit. Sometimes we focus on the tool or the technology, and forget the bigger picture.

If people back away (even just a little) from the etools/media tank, they will see that there is more to learning than just "tools" and that the models for creating "great learning" moments still apply - they just have not been applied with universal success to eLearning... yet.

I find that technologists and developers often frame their reply to questions about "learning" in terms of technology (everything is an elearning nail to be hammered by an electronic tool...). The reality is our equation still involves getting humans (not machines) to interact with more effecively with other humans, even if they use a myriad of tools in their task/job to do so. I love my elearning tools, but I still provide learning opportunities for humans.

The best lessons we learned in Instructor-Led Training (ILT) still apply: great teachers have a passion for the subject, they meet the learner where they are performance-wise, they stand beside the student - not in front of them, they focus on the outcomes while not clinging rigidly to one curriculum path, they let the learner dictate timing, speed, etc. Lots of timeless stuff there.

The challenge we now face is not the creation of more tools, but better use of the tools we have, while applying the fundamentals of human behavior and performance, including the role of emotion, curiosity, discovery, and the desire to improve.

It's a good time to be in the field of helping others connect with their audience and the content. In that respect, Socratic method, ADDIE, HPT and instructional design are needed more today than ever.

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