Saturday, May 28

Food, Apple, and learning

What do a fantastic meal and the iPod have to teach us about learning? I believe they both have valuable lessons to teach us about scoping our work.

The meal was a relaxed evening at Manresa, where the chef served up some two dozen exquisite small tastes. Chef David Kinch has created one of the top 50 restaurants in the world via a simple mantra: "A dish isn't complete when I can't add anything else to it—but when I can take nothing else away".

Apple follows a similar design ethic, noticeable in the iPod, of taking away complexity until only the essence of the product remains.

Yet look at the projects that are held up as exemplars of innovation in learning: million-dollar simulations, enterprise-wide projects at Fortune 50 companies, etc. They're impressive and inspiring, but ultimately out of the reach of many people. Cisco's RIO/RLO strategy was brilliant, but so intricate that it was replaced in a coup from within. Full Spectrum Warrior is effective and engaging, but companies aren't racing out to buy X-boxes and build immersive 3D simulations of their own.

If we believe that learning happens by doing, and that includes a great deal of trial-and-error, I believe that the e-learning community should be celebrating (and engaging in) the innovative small projects as well as the large. (The latest e-Learning Forum meeting described a performance support solution that was done in a few months on a very modest budget, but which is giving the sponsoring business a major boost.)

What have you seen that is small, elegant, and powerful?


Clark Aldrich said...

iPod is a great example of design/simple interface, personalization, and convenience, but it is sure not a case against complex implementations! When you look at the integration, innovation, investment, and installation, one has to be humbled.

This post is true of a rule I suggested here a few months ago here. I noted the inevitable observations of "Training should be more like TiVo, or cell phones, or web pages, or iPods, or Segways..."

( )

Training will always be compared against "hot" consumer technology. It is where we go from there that gets interesting.

Richard said...

I had though about adding a comment that clarity in design usually involves substantial work in the implementation, but didn't want the post to stray off target.

As for comparing training to popular products, what's the harm in referring to something that people know and use? I would hope that we learning professionals would want to make our products and services as compelling and accessible as the objects we use in everyday life.

Clark Aldrich said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

when you need simple thing - IPod is for you!

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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