Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When is done, done?

"Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving."
-   Neil Gaiman
Someone once told me that the standard for developing effective learning was 40 hours of work for every one hour of deliverable material.


For years the training industry labored to provide the perfect, polished experience.  An experience that drove students down a defined path, delivering to them exactly the content as defined by the SMEs and Instructional Designers in exactly the way they deemed fit.  If you were a student and struggling, well, you simply weren't trying hard enough.  Change took an act of Congress - or at least a new development cycle.

That's why I've banned the use of the words "training" and "student" in my professional life.  Training is a response to a stimulus.  Training is required when there is only one one way to do something and its extremely important you do it that way.  Or maybe people die.  I can think of many examples in the medical, emergency response, and military worlds where that's a valid perspective.  But for most of the rest of us it simply doesn't make sense.

In most of our professional circles we want people to think for themselves.  We reward innovation.  Sure there is a base level of knowledge but, for the most part, we want people to use their skills and come up with bigger and better ways to do things.  We want people to learn and to apply those skills in new ways.

That means that learning is iterative.  Learning is active.  The only example of perfection in a course is found in two words:

Go Learn.  

When you design Learning build in growth rings.  Want to teach someone how to make a new dish?  Give them some suggestions for ingredients, some basic knife and saute skills, and let them experiment.  Let them learn how flavors blend in good and bad ways.  Let them make mistakes.

Whatever you do don't give them a recipe on a PowerPoint slide and call it a day.

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