This week, America celebrates Independence Day. We come together at barbecues, on the beach, and with family and friends to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
While the United States of America has officially existed since 1776, the virtual classroom has only provided a viable training option for about 20 years.
In honor of this holiday, we urge you to declare your independence from outdated training and embrace the possibilities of modern blended learning.
In the spirit of the celebration, we rewrote a bit of the Declaration of Independence to include our promises to the field of learning and development.
We, therefore, the representatives of the modern classroom, assembled, appealing to fellow learning professionals, do, in the name, and by the authority of our good learners, solemnly declare that our classrooms are, and of right ought to be free of unengaging facilitation and inappropriate design. As empowered adult learners, they have the full power to define their own learning pathways, grow their personal learning networks, and contribute to social collaboration. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the design and presentation of effective learning, we pledge to each other our most sincere effort and continued pursuit of excellence.
How can you declare your learning programs as modern and influential? Take on one (or all!) of these challenges:
- Embrace learning as a perpetual experience. Historically, training programs revolved around defined starting and ending points. Learners and learning leaders understood that a comprehensive program would begin on a Tuesday at 9am and wrap up at 5pm on Friday. While predictable, this model limits learning. Participants miss the opportunity to apply new information on the job or to access relevant resources when they need them. Plus, in the modern workplace, skills quickly become outdated as technologies and procedures change quickly. By shifting the vision of learning from an event to an ongoing process, L&D can transition from training to performance support.
- Take control of your personal professional development. When your day-to-day responsibilities include the skill building of fellow employees, finding the time to devote to your own learning proves difficult. But as learning professionals, we have an obligation to ourselves and to our learners to ensure that our skills uphold proven best practices and have evolved to meet standards required in all of our learning environments. We are the arbiters of learning, and with that privilege comes a responsibility to tend to our own professional development. Define your personal learning goals, identify ways to achieve them, and cultivate your curated resources.
- Reject inauthentic design approaches. Microlearning, virtual classrooms, eLearning modules, classroom events, self-directed exercises, and simulations offer just a few of the design options we can leverage in the modern classroom. Blended learning’s flexibility empowers designers to create programs that meet all of our learners’ moments of need. But we can only support learning something new and help people adapt when things change or go wrong, by using instructional treatments appropriately. Before designing content, consider when and where learners will use the information and review the advantages or disadvantages of a specific treatment to ensure the two align.
- Commit to creating connections. For all of human history, we have learned from one another. The power of social collaboration remains today, but learning professionals have to design and encourage it within training programs. Advocate for peer-to-peer learning, include designated collaborative exercises in and out of the classrooms, and model thoughtful contribution. While we cannot force our learners to socialize, we can promote the promise of sharing personal insights and experiences to the learning process. Define the importance of personal learning networks to ongoing success and don’t neglect your own.
The modern classroom provides the freedom to invest in flexible, responsive, impactful learning. Let’s make an effort to use it to its fullest potential.