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).

It’s time our profession stopped holding the megaphone to our mouths and start holding it to our ear first.
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. 

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