Happy Birthday Work-Learning Research!! 20 Years Old
On August 25th 1998, Work-Learning Research was officially born in Portland, Maine, in the United States of America. Please help me celebrate an eventful 20 years!!
In lieu of a big birthday-party bash, I’d like to offer some thanks, brag a little, and invite you to leave a comment below if my work has touched you in any beneficial ways.
If you want a history of the early years, that’s already written here.
I set out 20 years ago to help bridge the gap between scientific research and practice. I had some naive views about how easy that would be, but I’ve tried over the years to compile research from top-tier scientific journals on learning, memory, and instruction and translate what I find into practical recommendations for learning professionals—particularly for those in the workplace learning field. I haven’t done even one-tenth of what I thought I could do, but I see only a little harm in keeping at it.
I have a ton of people to thank for enabling me to persevere. First, my wife, who has been more than patient. Second, my daughter who, still in her mid-teens, brings me hope for the future. Also, my parents and family who have built a foundation of values and strength. A great deal of credit goes to my clients who, let’s face it, pay the bills and enable this operation to continue. Special thanks for the 227 people who sponsored my Kickstarter campaign to get my smile-sheet book published. Thanks also for the other research-to-practice professionals who are there with ideas, feedback, inspiration, and support. Thanks go out to all those who care about research-based work and evidence-based practice. I thank you for standing up for learning practices that work!
I’ve made a ton of mistakes as a entrepreneur/consultant, but I’m really proud of a few things, so permit me a moment of hubris to share what they are:
- Work-Learning Research has freakin’ survived 20 years!! As the legendary Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione might say, “Can you believe it?”
- I have avoided selling out. While vendors regularly approach me asking for research or writing that will publicly praise their offerings, I demur.
- I published a book that added a fundamental innovation to the workplace learning field. Performance-Focused Smile Sheets will be, in my not-so-humble opinion, an historic text. I’m also proud that 227 people in our field stood up and contributed $13,614 to help me get the book published!
- I was talking about fundamental research-based concepts like retrieval practice and spacing back in the early 2000’s, over ten years before books like Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel (2014) popularized these concepts, and I continue to emphasize fundamental learning factors because they matter the most.
- I have developed a new Learning Evaluation model (LTEM) that enables us to abandon the problematic Kirkpatrick-Katzell Four-Level Model of Evaluation.
- I have developed a number of extremely useful models and frameworks, including the Learning Maximizers Model, the Learning Landscape Model, the SEDA Model, the Decisive Dozen, etc.
- I have pioneered methods to overcome the limitations of multiple-choice tests, specifically enabling multiple-choice tests to overcome its recognition-only problem.
- I have created a robust catalog of publications, blog posts, and videos that share research-based practical wisdom.
- I have, at least a little bit, encouraged people in our field to be more skeptical and more careful and to be less inclined to buy into some of the biggest myths in the learning field. I’m attempting now to reinvigorate the Debunker.Club to enable those who care about research-based practice to support each other.
- I have, in a small way (not as much as I wish I could) attempted to speak truth to power.
- I have, I hope at least a little bit, supported other research-to-practice advocates and thought leaders.
- I have had the honor of helping many clients and organizations, including notable engagements with The Navy Seals, the Defense Intelligence Agency, Bloomberg, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Walgreens, ADP, Oxfam, Practising Law Institute, U.S. National Park Service, Society of Actuaries, the Kauffman Foundation, ISPI, the eLearning Guild, ATD, and Learning Technologies among many others.
- To make it a baker’s dozen, let me say I’m also proud that I’ve still got things I want to do…
Celebrate with Me!
While I would have loved to host a big party and invited you all, in lieu of that dream, I invite you to leave a comment.
Thank you for embracing me and my work for so many years!
Maybe it’s weird that I’m leading the celebration. Maybe it seems sad! Let me just say, f*ck that! The world doesn’t hand out accolades to most of us. We have to do our own work and celebrate where we can! I’m happy it’s Work-Learning Research’s 20 anniversary. I invite you to be happy with me!
I am truly grateful…
One more thing… the official anniversary is in a week, when I’ll be pleasantly lost in a family vacation… Apologies if I can’t respond quickly if you leave a note below!
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