Tuesday, January 10, 2017

10 Resources to Help You Modernise L&D

Rachel Burnham writes: I thought I would begin my blog for 2017 with a collection of resources to help L&D professionals review where your practice is. 

This is not in anyway a best of 2016 collection – if it was I would have missed out some wonderful pieces!  Nor does it focus on the new & shiny – some of these ideas in this collection have been around for quite awhile.  It is, if you like, a capsule collection of blog articles, sketchnotes, video clips and reports, which taken together can provide you with a concise introduction to what modern workplace learning is about. It also includes some great resources on ways to invest in your own learning and development and so be #always learning.

A great place to start in any piece about L&D is what is learning and I have picked two pieces to explore this.  The first is a short blog and a wonderful Sketchnote by Tanmay Vora, who is one of my very favourite Sketchnoters.  He can be found on Twitter at @tnvora.  His drawing explores four ways we learn as set out by Charles Jennings – challenging experiences, opportunities to practice, challenging conversations and time for reflection.

2.  ‘Learning is Complicated’ by Sukh Pabial

The second piece on learning is a thought provoking blog article from Sukh Pabial, which explores some of the challenges we face when we are designing learning – it is good to produce short, focused resources to stimulate learning, but to really develop complex skills and mastery takes more than this, and also more than traditional content driven courses.   I think this is where Tanmay Vora’s picture of Charles Jennings’ four ways of learning is so helpful, in reminding us what is required for learning that has an impact.

My third pick is a piece of my own, which argues that if we want learning to be effective in the workplace, we paradoxically need to focus a little less on the learning and a little more on the performance required.   This performance focus will subtly shift our emphasis on every aspect of the L&D role, whether it is identifying needs, design, delivery or evaluation.

This blog by David James picks up on focusing on performance and explores how dialogue could help to identify real needs.  David suggests that creating and curating resources to address these needs will be more effective than traditional courses rolled out across an organisation. 

5.  ‘Experience Design: Dump the Content’ by Nick Shackleton-Jones

Nick Shackleton-Jones has written on many occasions on a similar theme to David James, about the need to develop resources rather than courses.  But in this particular post, he tackles the other side of the design challenge, which is to design experiences and so this piece connects back to the earlier points made by Sukh Pabial and covered in Tanmay Vora’s Sketchnote.   Nick Shackleton-Jones argues passionately against ‘content-dumping’ and sets out ideas about how to create experiences that really help people to learn.  I think a key point here is about designing with ‘what we want people to be able to do’ in mind, rather than what they need to remember – and this links again to focusing on performance.

In this video clip Martin Couzins is being interviewed for Learning Now TV about the process of curation by Nigel Paine.  Curation is the process of searching out, selecting and collecting together resources produced by others – and it is therefore an important part of the process of moving from courses to resources.  Martin is an expert on all things curation, so it is great to hear him discussing this.

7.  ‘Unlocking Potential’ the Towards Maturity 2016-17 Benchmarking Report

If you haven’t come across the organisation ‘Towards Maturity’ or their CEO Laura Overton before, then this latest report in their annual series is a good place to start.  Towards Maturity is a benchmarking organisation that enables organisations to compare their approach to tackling L&D to that of world class organisations and by doing this make improvements.  This report presents a picture of what these world class organisations are doing and how other organisations compare.  It is full of insights and action points for both organisations and also for the development of individual L&D professionals. 

The report identifies how L&D professionals are developing their skills and notes the part that networking and reflective practice play, alongside participating in courses.   So that provides a good lead into to my final group of pieces.  

Back in October I wrote about how my own views about networking had changed from seeing networking as a rather unpleasant necessity for business development (I have my own business after all!) to seeing networking as a key tool for my own learning and personal development.   And I drew this Sketchnote to illustrate this change.   Is networking part of your development toolkit?

In this short video, Michelle shares how she and her team make use of a range of social tools such as Sharepoint, One Note and Storify to communicate and learn together.  This video has a very practical focus and demonstrates how internal social networking can be enabled through the effective use of digital tools.  Michelle is a great exponent of Working Out Loud (WOL), which involves sharing what you are working on to enable learning from one another – the concept is discussed in my post on networking - but this video from Michelle demonstrates it in practice.

10.      ‘It Starts with You’ by Julie Drybrough

This blog is all about reflective practice, what it involves and how to approach it. I particularly found it helpful because it digs a bit deeper into how to approach personal reflective practice.

So, that is my 10 pieces.   My selection box, to help you to update your skills and stretch your L&D practice.  I hope you find it interesting, but more than that I hope you find it useful! 

I would be interested in your responses to this piece.

Rachel Burnham


Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals update and refresh their skills.  I am particularly interested in blended learning, the uses of social media for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance. 

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