The Death of Education but the Dawn of Learning

This title is a quote from a you-tube video. Click here to watch it….I’ll wait!

You’re back! So, what do you think? Have you started to notice trends of this in your workplace? I have, from the people born around 1980 or so. So how do we take what these educators are talking about and make it usable for corporate america? Is it the web 2.0 technologies?

Of course part of what we need to do is embrace these new technologies. But, as we’ve seen over the past 10 years, technology alone isn’t enough. What we need to do is change. We need to change how we see ourselves, how our learners see us, and how we see our learners.

First we need to change how we see ourselves at corporate trainers, instructional designers, facilitators, e-learning designers, whatever-you-want-to-call-yourself.

Will we continue to be the person who knows all, and who structures learning? NO!! I think our job will be to structure knowledge so when the learners come looking, they can find what they want.

Will we know all? NO!! Instead we’ll know where to go to find the answers, and we’ll teach our learners how they can learn for themselves. Heck, they already do it anyway, they just don’t know they do it.

Will we continue to lead stand-up training? YES!! I think the more the virtual tools come into play, the greater the desire for co-workers to see who they work with, and to meet face-to-face. I think our training sessions might not be structured as they are now, but more of a networking event.

Secondly, we need to change how our learners see us. No more will we be the person who demands an hour, or a day, or even an entire week of their time so they can learn something. No more will they see us and shudder and run away. Instead, we’ll be seen as their ally in finding the information they need to do their job.

Will they still see us standing in front of a training class. Of course.

Will they hear us saying things like, “is everyone on the same page? Are we altogether?” NO!! That’s because they’ll determine what page they need to be on, and they’ll determine whether or not they all need to be together.

It’s a different way of seeing us. Instead of seeing us as trainers, they’ll see us as the knowledgable person in the cube next to them that answers questions directly, honestly, and efficiently.

This brings me to my third point, how we will see our learners. How do you see your learners today? As people who can’t learn anything no matter how many times you teach them? As smart but bored by your classes? As people who’ll do anything to just get through the training session? I am convinced with every fiber of my being that we need to believe that each and every person in our training session is an innate learner. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there, right? Not only that, we need to see that desire in each of them to learn something new. It’s there, but we need to see it in each of our learners, even the one sleeping in our classes.

We need to connect to our learners, and their world. It may be that what they want to learn has nothing to do with our learning objectives. But, if we can teach them what they want (or show them how to learn what they want), they’ll be back.

Think of it like this. Remember the best salesman (or sales person) you’ve ever encountered? Did they try to sell you what they wanted, or what you wanted? What if what you wanted was counter to their offerings? The best salespeople will send you to a competitor, because they know if they give you what you want, you’ll be back. So as trainers, let’s give our learners what they want. It may not be our learning objectives, but they are learning, and that is our goal. And if they are learning, they’ll be back.

They’ll be back because they’ll trust you, and the truth of the matter is that you have something they need. If you’re in corporate america, you’re not teaching these classes just for the fun of it. You’re teaching them because your learners need them in order to do their jobs. So let’s not get caught in a power struggle. Give them what they want, and they’ll give you what you want.

Soon, very soon, our training world is going to undergo some major transitions. These transitions are being driven by the learning styles and preferences of Gen Y, or the Millenials, technology, virtual teams, and globablization. Training is going to change. In that change, my arguement is that we as trainers need to change our perceptions of ourselves and our learners, and that our learners need to change their perception of us. 

About Tricia Ransom

Patricia Ransom: wife, daughter, friend. Learning, laughing, living. Chicago, Illinois, downstate. Townie, urbanite, traveller. Note: The opinions expressed on this blog belong solely to me and should not be assumed to reflect the opinions of any of my employers past, current, or future.
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