A Review of 2011 and the Future of Workplace Learning

 target=Yogi Berra once said, "Predictions are hard, especially when they are about the future." So instead of writing a 2012 prediction post, I decided to review the topics I wrote about in 2011 and rediscover what topics really resonated with people. During my review, I discovered four themes that popped up based on activity from readers and from the number of posts I wrote on each subject. The four themes were business acumen and leadership, social learning, rapid instructional design, and experimenting with innovative ideas.

I have listed links to some of these posts below.

Business acumen and leadership skills

Business acumen and leadership are about workplace-learning leaders spending more time gaining a deep understanding of the business constituents they serve. I believe learning leaders spend too much time trying to educate business leaders on the language of training and performance improvement, while they should spend more time learning their language. I have written about this topic several times:

Five essential business terms for learning leaders

Build a people engine geared for results

A real how to guide to prioritize learning

In my view, the only way to provide training and performance improvement solutions that add value to the organization and the only way those services can be prioritized properly is if they are aligned with what the business truly cares about.

Start facilitating social learning

I wrote about social learning on several occasions in 2011 and received many emails and tweets in response to my posts. I tried to make two points in my posts of social learning: First, I urged instructional designers to start and to start now. It's better to start with an imperfect first version than to not start at all. Valuable experience will be gained and iterative improvements can be made based on learner feedback, mistakes, and experience. The second point I tried to make was that many learning activities can be facilitated in class or on social networking platforms like Yammer. Here are a few of my posts on social learning:

4 essential elements of social learning

Implementing social learning: Start small and start now

Lessons in social learning: What happens on the classroom stays in the classroom

Practical ways to design social media into your training programs

Speed up Instructional Design

One of my favorite topics is speeding up the instructional design process — and in order to do that, instructional designers must think more like software developers. A lot of this work and thinking is based on the Fast HRM work that Theresa Welbourne has developed. Just about every other department in your organization needs to figure out how to deliver products and services to customers faster, so why shouldn't you? And of you think like a software developer, you can speed up the process, and increase the effectiveness of your designs.

Four ways to speed up the instructional design process

Be Innovative: Experiment

On several posts, I describe how I learned about a new technology or techniques and experimented with them. Then I urged workplace learning professionals to do the same. I believe that one of the best ways to stay fresh in one's work and stay on the cutting edge, or at least as far away from complacency and boredom as possible, is to constantly experiment with new ideas. Accordingly, I wrote a few posts about the experiments I tried throughout the year. At the very least, they were fun to try, and I learned something each time. Here are a few of those experiments:

Five ways to get started in mobile learning

Using Evernote to design and deliver training

Create your own Twitter-powered personal learning network

What will 2012 hold for workplace learning professionals? I do not know. But I do know that it will have something to do with providing a service the business wants that will improve performance. If we can do that, our departments will flourish in the best — and the worst — of times.

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