DevLearn session summary 3. Stories from the first half of week Two

This week so far has been pretty interesting from the perspective of PTT in that we’ve been looking at topics that are a bit outside of what we normally do. They are not a million miles away, because the concepts look at making learning work from the perspective of the learner, but they do take a different approach to designing some elements. That’s why we’ve decided to include three sessions that look at design, whether it’s life-long learning, learner-centric design or design-thinking for innovation.

1. Looking ahead: Future proof your learning program for 2020 and beyond – Claudine Townley

Claudine (no relation to Ian), suggested that the traditional lifestyle model of ‘Learn, Do, Retire’ should be adapted so that people switch their focus to Life-long learning. This is because, even in highly stable employment positions the average half-life of professional skills is about 2.5~5 years. One way to stay ahead of that half-life is to seek out occupational licenses and certifications and move to continuous assessments. As learning professionals we can support this move by reviewing our own offerings:

To make your offerings impactful and scalable you should identify connections to the people who interact with your learning solutions to make sure that they can benefit from those connections in a supported way as part of a bigger ecosystem. Those connections to your learning partners might include: sales people, customer care or even the customers. You can get the most value from your solutions by doing the following:

Finally, it’s important to bring a digital solution to your market. A digital-first approach covers asynchronous, peer-to-peer and experiential learning and can be integrated with offline learning. Take the following three final actions:


2. The proof is in the skills: Transform knowledge with challenge-based learning and scored labs – Ashley Neace & Katie O’Zey

Ashley and Katie walked us through their process for creating learner-centric systems that focus on using challenges of increasing difficulty and complexity in order to achieve learning transfer. The central tenets for this approach can be seen in the slide below:

There are 6 principles to the way that Ashley and Katie approach designing their ‘Challenge Labs’ are based on the challenge-centric learning tenets. Scroll through the images below to reveal their process.

In all of these principles their solutions are scenario-based; goal-oriented; simple; on-demand; vary in difficulty; create validation and have meaningful feedback. Having what seems like a set of complex processes, tenets, and systems might seem a bit much, but Ashley and Katie attest that they are necessary to make sure that they balance learning with transfer and support – especially for managers – to help learners apply learning. Something that we at PTT are passionate about too.

3. Innovation governance: Turning big ideas into low-cost experiments – Becca Wilson

The last session is about design. It isn’t exclusively about learning design but some of the principles are useful. There are many ways we can think about design thinking, but one interesting illustration Becca shared with us come from Damien Newman (source in picture), where the squiggly line shows the amount of action, changes in direction or energy before a a solution is finally built.

Becca’s suggestion was to focus less on the what part of the process (solution) and more on the why (deciding what to build). This is because most people obsess about a solution, especially true in learning, before they have really grasped why they are making it. She suggested going through the questions below that take her from left to right on the above squiggle image: 

  1. What are the problems worth solving?
  2. How might we solve the problem? (design thinking)
  3. Does our solution and message resonate with our audience? (identify assumptions + rapid iteration)
  4. Can the problem be solved in this specific way? (feasibility)
  5. Are the economics attractive enough to justify scaling? (incubate)
  6. Are we achieving the expected outcomes? (intended result)

Most people spend all their time either at the right side or they never get out of the left side. Here are some frameworks for creating solutions whether they are for digital or F2F. Go through each picture set step by step to get an insight into creating valuable learning ‘products’.

The first step is to use an innovation pipeline to prioritise your big ideas:

The second step is to combine design thinking with lean concepts to make sure we reduce risks through an iterative process:

The third step is to go through rapid prototyping. This is a bit complicated to understand, but if you imagine the squiggle on the third picture to match the squiggle on the slide at the top of this section you can see how you move from a situation of chaos to certainty and agreement. In other words, the beginning of this process seems confusing but ends with clarity.

That’s all from the first half of week two. Many thanks to Claudine, Ashley and Katie, and Becca. We’ll be back at the end of the week with the last of the DevLearn summaries.

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