In a recent post, I likened the use of learning styles, NLP and MBTI to that of using asbestos in building and construction. The comments on the post and from social networks showed to me that people are really wedded to their preferred methods of practice. I was quite clear in the post that I can see why people would choose to continue to do this and that in my practice, I’m making the active choice to move away from using models like these.
What I’ve been gradually moving towards, is adopting and adapting multiple approaches when I deliver learning solutions. If you were to look at how I facilitate a learning solution – either in person or digitally, you’d probably recognise elements from different models of thinking, and also wonder where the consistent approach in that delivery lies.
When people attend a learning event, most won’t know or care if you’re using NLP or MBTI or emotional intelligence or scientology as your approach. They are there to learn something useful that can increase their performance. How they do that, is in your hands.
I’ve made the decision that in my hands, I’ll use adult learning principles and modern understanding of learning design. What does that mean, though, right? I mean, they’re fancy words.
It means that I will design in dialogic approaches to help people do the sense-making they need to do. When you introduce a topic that requires thinking and understanding, you have to give people the space and time to debate it, think about it, and decide on what it means for them in their role. There’s multiple ways to do that, and I’m always cautious to say there are definite better ways than others. Ultimately, though, as long as people are able to engage with the content and with others, that’s a healthy thing to do.
It means presenting information and content clearly and without prejudice. If someone needs to understand a way of doing things, or an approach, they need clarity on what that looks like. This isn’t new, it’s basic human psychology. And it’s a fundamental. Get the basics right, and people – as adults – are capable of doing the rest themselves.
It means actively seeking to provide inclusion as a design principle. That means I will provide an environment where people have the chance to be heard, for their opinion to be shared and for challenge to be raised. It also means helping people find the support they need with the group present.
It means I work on a basis of trust. That trust comes from me as the facilitator and with the group as knowing a lot of things about a lot of things. I know some things, they know some things, and together we can learn more things.
It means using a range of learning solutions as a way of improving performance. The traditional training course or face to face isn’t my only solution. It’s one solution amongst many others. Some people may just need a nudge to go and find the solution themselves. Others may need to be pointed to some content of value. Others may need an e-learning solution. Others may learn best from video. Others may need to work with a group of peers to learn from one another.
It also means, I experiment pretty much every time I’m designing a learning solution. I’m constantly seeing new ways of being able to improve the learning experience of people at work, and so I’m constantly looking to see how I approach the solution, what I’m doing with it, and how it works in practice. There is safety in the world of L&D. If something doesn’t work, we nearly always have the opportunity to improve it the next time. There’s often little risk of a learning solution going wrong and directly negatively impacting a business outcome.
What does this blog post get you thinking? As the title of my blog says, it’s about Thinking About Learning, and I’m interested to know what you think about what I’ve written here?