As the New Year approaches, we wanted to reflect on some of the most important developments in professional learning that occurred in 2011. What stood out after looking at this year’s trends could be summarized in a single word: mobile. Mobile technologies are not only increasingly important in our daily lives, but are also playing a more substantial role in workplace training and education. Here are just a few examples of mobile developments in various professional working and learning environments this year:
Corporations and Associations: One interesting trend in corporate education this year was the integration of social media into workplace learning. Mobile education expert Gary Woodill has noted that the enhanced collaboration from social and mobile learning tools can benefit companies that adopt them early, especially by allowing employees to share best practices and ideas in real time.
Career Colleges: Students at professional and career colleges often pursue their education while balancing commitments such as holding full-time jobs or raising a family. Considering their busy lifestyles, these students depend on their schools’ online learning and mobile capabilities to take classes on-the-go.
I recently came across a thought-provoking article from Will Thalheimer’s Will at Work Learning blog. The post, entitled The Five Failures of Workplace Learning Professionals, offers insights on how to improve some of the most significant weaknesses of on-the-job training. One of the most interesting points Thalheimer makes in this post is that “we forget to minimize forgetting and improve remembering.” In short, his point is that professional educators need to provide tools for memory retention so that knowledge gained during training can be used in the long term.
The article lists these three mechanisms that can help support remembering:
· Aligning the learning and performance contexts
· Providing retrieval practice
· Utilizing spaced repetitions
I recently discovered Life in Perpetual Beta, a blog written by organizational consultant Harold Jarche. The blog focuses on ways to “work smarter” in an era of constant development and change. Jarche is a true believer in the importance of integrating effective learning techniques throughout the workplace, which definitely resonates with us at Blackboard. Life in Perpetual Beta is a great blog for leaders who are seeking new ways to revitalize their organizations through strategies in learning, and would especially appeal to those who aren’t afraid of change. An emphasis on social learning
As I recently wrote in a post on the benefits of informal learning, companies today have the opportunity to leverage popular technological trends, such as the use of social media, for professional, workplace learning purposes. Despite this incredible potential for engagement in professional environments, however, misconceptions about the effectiveness of informal learning sometimes prevent it from being adopted by corporate trainers.
Here are some of the most common myths about informal learning, followed by discussions that demystify the concerns they reflect:
Myth #1: It’s too unstructured Some may argue that informal learning may be a distraction from the goals of a training session, or may go off-topic due to the organic nature of the conversation it generates.
However, when informal learning comes with clear instructions and desired outcomes are explained ahead of time, learners will be more likely to stay on task and work towards the goals set out during training sessions.
Myth #2: Learners will not retain the information they need
With the widespread use of the Internet and social media among young adults, constant connectivity has become a part of their everyday life. As members of this tech-savvy generation enter the workforce, they will form a new breed of learners- connected learners- who will demand that professional education adapt to the technological trends being utilized every day.