#learnpersonal: The end of injection education

On November 19th 2015 Brightwave’s event Up close and personal: Optimising the learner experience took place at The Brewery, London, where we were joined by a selection of learning and development experts speaking on the theme of personalisation in learning. We are very pleased to present this guest blog from one of the day’s speakers, Michelle Parry Slater, Learning and Development Director of Kairos Modern Learning, as well as the slides from her presentation on the day.

I recently spent the day with Brightwave and their customers at Brightwave’s #LearnPersonal event. I love a company that is prepared to put its customers together in a room. It is so invigorating and inspiring to find out how each other use the Brightwave products and expertise. You could feel the neurons firing as ideas were shared and excitement levels increased.

I was invited to speak about the End of Injection Education. For those who don’t know me, Injection Education is what I call knowledge dump training exercises which pervade the corporate training rooms up and down the land. You know, that day out of the office, with interesting colleagues, nice biscuits and a face to face trainer.
Sounds idyllic, however back at the ranch as soon as the day after the course, the new knowledge is forgotten as day to day tasks take over. With memories fading fast, it is difficult for learners to get full value from only having face to face learning experiences.

The key to making the memories stick lies in what we do in addition to the course, or even in replacement of the course. The secret lies in our private lives, where we are experts in social and digital learning.

There are no courses to learn how to book a holiday or organise a family party. Yet these are common place activities in which we draw on our network for ideas: we use Facebook to see a friend’s holiday snaps for inspiration, we use TripAdvisor to choose venues, we use local knowledge to share with others. We are multi-tasking at point of need, using social learning all of the time in our private lives. Yet in work, we have to leave all that experience at the office door as we switch to learning being done unto us via a classroom or elearning.

Counting hours spent learning is a valued metric, yet hours spent doesn’t actually measure knowledge transfer, contextualisation, effective embedding, behavioural change or increases in productivity.

L&D departments are getting it wrong at work, especially when we consider those talented individuals who chose to buck the system and are learning like their private lives anyway, via MOOCs, TED Talks, YouTube, networks or simply by asking the person sitting next to them! If we embrace that in L&D, if we go where the learners go, we can harness the power of the network and social learning for the good of all. In my presentation I suggested instead of 5 training days a year, give staff 5 networking days. I believe better value will result.

We talked a lot about the journey towards modern learning, about knowing where your organisation is on it. I made the analogy of taking the road less travelled, yet acknowledged it as the arduous choice. We can’t pretend that the social and digital road is littered with daisies; it will be pushing a boulder up a hill for a large part of the time. However once you get that boulder to the top of the hill, it will take on an energy all of its own. Initially your hill may be mountainous and hard to climb, but remember you are not alone.

There is a welcome and open learning community on social media, particularly Twitter, who are more than happy to support you. It is important to build a personal learning network to sustain your energy and knowledge, to challenge and refine your ideas, and to celebrate your success with. Use tech as a tool to access relevant, better networks which can help you. My best advice in preparing for your journey is know yourself and know your organisation. Such open honesty will prepare you for what can and cannot be achieved…

It is important to understand that a change to modern learning practice does not happen overnight. It is important to recognise if your organisation is ripe for the development. We talked about L&D having the right conversations internally to prepare the environment, permission and culture of an organisation for a wider roll out of changes in learning. Trialling new ideas in pockets of innovation can help to prove concept.

For example take a regular classroom course and redesign as a blend to include a community element, a peer to peer element, and an experiential element. It is a simple and unadventurous start, however the success of that programme can lead the way for more.

I believe that we will see the end of injection education in my working lifetime. It can feel scary staring at a mountain as tall as Everest, and overcoming that can feel impossible. Yet I know that with great networks and their support via tech tools and in real life, nothing is impossible.

Following years in corporate L&D, Michelle Parry-Slater now spends most days far too excited about the possibilities available to everyone involved in workplace learning. Harnessing this energy, she heads up Kairos Modern Learning, a specialist consultancy aimed at moving the L&D profession away from traditional old style ‘Injection Education’ classroom courses towards healthier modern learning strategies.

Follow Michelle on Twitter.

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