We have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth
If there is one thing I took from Learning Solutions and Ecosystem 2014, it’s that L&D Pros still seem to be very focused on outgoing signals. Don’t get me wrong- there were some very good sessions on how to make the content we deploy much more effective. I thoroughly enjoyed Will Thalheimer’s session on subscription-based learning which addresses the impact of forgetting by applying the spacing effect. Ray Jiminez also had a session on how to chunk information into smaller bits for greater impact. We are making vast improvements into packaging our outgoing messages to be more effective. However, I still feel we’re missing something big. THE thing, actually. Today, we have more tools than ever to understand our users. I am not talking about our traditional view of metrics (read: test scores- where it is a bit late to really help the user, isn’t it?). We have analytics tools at disposal to listen- really listen– to what our users are DOING (focus on performance vs content was a common theme at the conference, but I mostly saw items on how to make content more performance-focused, and very little on how to understand how users are performing to better support it). [blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”left”]It’s time our profession stopped holding the megaphone to our mouths and start holding it to our ear first.[/blockquote]With the tools available, why not listen first to understand needs, then design content to respond to users needs? I am not talking formal needs assessment, but in-process metrics to understand our users at a deeper level and respond in a timely manner to best support them. More like games which constantly monitor a player’s actions and adapts accordingly to provide feedback and guide actions. That. I think now we have a great opportunity to transform L&D from being barely valued and irrelevant in many organizations to a strong and indispensable support partner. But that will require us upgrading our skills from one-way content deployment to an actual dialog with our users.