Most conference attendees have done little or no preparation and have not sat down to figure out what questions they should be asking coming into the conference. I've written about the need to prepare before:
More Effective Conferences for Learning Professionals - The most important aspect of making sure you get the most you can from the conference is determining what the questions are that you should use to focus you during the conference. Otherwise, you will swim through the sea of sessions and vendors and will not get nearly as much from the conference.However, even if you sat down ahead of the conference and really thought about the questions that you face in your job, most of the questions are along the lines of:
- How do I get more interactivity into my courseware?
- How do I reduce the attrition rate in my course/courseware?
- What's the best authoring tool to use to build my courseware?
Sound familiar right?
The problem is that all of these questions assume that we are trying to do more of the same. We are trying to build courses/courseware - and that's dying. We are aiming at helping large numbers of novice/new performers even though that ignores most of the learning that occurs in organizations (see Rosenberg's Beyond eLearning - Is that eLearning 2.0?).
The realization is that we are facing the exact issue described by Christensen in the Innovator's Dilemma. He pointed out that many successful companies become unsuccessful when they continually optimize what they are doing well today only to be supplanted by disruptive innovations, e.g., railroad companies not becoming airlines. In learning, we have similar disruptions going on with eLearning 2.0, changing learning landscape and it provided the realization that we have the "The Innovator's Dilemma of Learning" ...
We are spending the vast majority of our time incrementally improving what we are doing today in learning (courses/courseware) instead of taking advantage of learning disruption that is happening all around us.
I know that most Learning and Performance Professionals will tell you all the reasons that "in their environment" they cannot break out of this mold. The Innovator's Dilemma suggests that you may be right, but it doesn't meant that you aren't heading for a rude awakening when you find out you are in railroads instead of airlines. Instead, maybe we should take Seth Godin's advice around Redefining Expectations.
Let's assume for a minute that you didn't have these barriers in your organization. I'm curious to find out what questions readers of this blog would ask at a conference if they assumed that they were not locked in the Innovator's Dilemma of Learning. Here are some that I might ask of other attendees, presenters, vendors, etc. I'm hoping that maybe even some of the other authors on this blog can begin to explore answers to some of these. Maybe I don't need to wait for my next conference...
- Informal Learning - How can I provide a development process, tools and systems that foster informal learning in a way that I know will have impact on the performance that I care about and that is repeatable? What can I borrow from KM, collaborative learning, and management practices? What does this look like in practice? When do I use it? When are you using it? What effect is it having? How do you know?
- Personal Learning - What systems, tools, techniques can I use to make myself a better learner?
- Reference Hybrids - How have you organized landing pages to support both reference and learning modes? How do you define what will be treated as reference and what as learning? What tools are you using today? What do you expect to use in the future? How do you track this kind of learning? Do you have metrics on impact?
So what are your questions?