Changing Our Learning-Design Mindsets

I started Work-Learning Research 10 years ago in August. Since that time, I’ve been translating learning research into practical recommendations for learning professionals. Unfortunately, it’s not easy. It takes a major change initiative in most instructional-development shops. It takes time. It takes leadership. It often takes a helping hand. Why? Because we have to completely change our mindsets. For example, I’ve recently been using a model I’m calling Situation-Based Learning Design. It is research-based but because it is translated and crafted into a conceptually useful framework, my clients and audiences have found it eye-opening. More importantly, they have been able to see its applicability. BUT, even though the ideas in the model are easy, it is extremely difficult to move a whole work team to the new method. It takes time, perseverance, and guidance. We all fall back on our topic-based learning-design mental models. To develop new mental models aligned with the research is a worthwhile slog, but it is a slog nonetheless.

Recently I’ve been designing workshops around the Situation-Based Learning Design notion. My clients see me present the concept at a conference and want a workshop in their own company. Nothing I have done in my ten years as President of Work-Learning Research has been so satisfying. I’ve learned a few things over the years, correcting mistakes in my delivery. SMILE. One reason that the Situation-Based Learning Design is having such an impact now is that it’s a simple research-based model that immediately makes sense to people. The other reason for impact is that we’re able to build workshops that enable people to begin changing the way they do learning design. Finally, more and more learning professionals understand that for training (even their own training) to be effective, it has to be designed more like a change initiative than a course.