Words matter -- especially when trying to communicate new ideas and teach new concepts. Terms like microlearning, virtual classrooms, and mobile learning no longer resonate with our learners.
In this modern learning landscape, the old training language just doesn’t work anymore. Terms like ‘eLearning’ and ‘webinar’ just don’t represent what the modern instructional designer, or Learning Experience Architect, is trying to accomplish.
Their goal is to integrate content, exercises, and assessment, into a seamless curriculum, regardless of what delivery technologies or instructional pedagogies are used.
To accommodate this evolution, we've been encouraging a subtle shift in language when designing learning experiences. And because rarely will an individual lesson NOT be part of a larger learning solution, the language shift applies to all modern learning, independent of the learning environment.
In this post, I propose new definitions for nine terms.
Let me rephrase that. I more than ‘propose.’ I advocate! I champion! I practically insist! We need to establish a new language, and we need to start using it now.
Note that each of these represents the outcome of learning design -- independent of how content is delivered. Remember, this is NOT about the technology. These terms are the scaffolding of modern learning.
Are you using these terms in a different way? Are you sure your message is clear? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
- Practice Activity
- Content block
- Blended learning
- Perpetual learning
- Learning campaign
The Language of Modern Blended Learning
Session: This term refers to a stand-alone presentation/webinar/interactive eLearning module, etc., that has no associated assessments or required actions. The intent of a session is to share information and to provide opportunities for basic interactions to ensure understanding.
Lesson: This term is used when the audience is actively learning something new, and there is an expectation that there will be some kind of assessment (either formal test or self-assessment) to ensure that knowledge has been transferred or skills obtained.
- A lesson is characterized by PRACTICE – if the learner doesn’t have the opportunity to DO something with the content, it is not a lesson and therefore it is not training.
- A lesson can be delivered via a virtual classroom, eLearning module, or many other technologies.
- Using the word ‘lesson’ makes all content in a blend equal, and shifts the focus from the delivery technology to the content because learners are not being distracted by tech speak.
- Design your formal blended solution first, and then think about and design in the types of informal activities learners will want to participate in three, six, or even twelve months after the formal event is over. How will you make sure the content is 'where' and 'when' your learners will need it?
- Consider their moments of learning need. These moments should give you context of the types of resources or activities the learner will want to access.
- How can social learning, like Communities of Practice, support the learner before, during, and after the campaign?
Modern workplace learning is more than technology. It's about changing the way we think about how modern learners actually learn. Adopting a language that supports this new way of thinking is a great way to start.
Book: Modern Workplace Learning: A Resource Book for L&D. If you can learn about just one thing this year, get the basics about Modern Workplace Learning from Jane Hart. Really! Do it now. "Jane Hart’s book is packed with practical advice and guidance to help L&D transform their workplace learning practices both through the provision of modern training content and the promotion and support of continuous, everyday learning in their organisation."
Infographic: Engaging Modern Learners: When to Push and When to Pull. Based on my BYTE session of the same name, this infographic connects ideas from people like Jane Hart and Bob Mosher. There are also links to additional resources on the same topic.