Three Myths About Online Learning and how to make sure your online learning works

By Sonia Tallarida

MYTH ONE: We need more content

(It’s not about the content)

Currently most online learning is a bit like walking into the National Gallery with all the artwork out of storage, and all up everywhere. Sure, it gives you choice – but how do you know how to find anything? How do you make sense of what you are seeing? How do you not give up and walk away in overwhelm? Clever learning curation supplies clear pathways and clues – then lets the learner choose which way to walk, which room to review within the appropriate learning level. The tour is curated, making sense of the information – this helps time poor managers to find their way easily.

Content is already everywhere. The key is how do you supply relevant links to content at appropriate times. Curation of content is what counts.

MYTH TWO: Learner pathways and compliance gateways support structured learning

(Too much order reinforces passive, hierarchical learning cultures)

Imagine you turn up to a training session, eager to learn and the trainer highlights what will be learned on the course then tells you – “any thoughts you have, or curiosities, just keep them to the end. Sit quietly for the rest of the course and at the end you will have the chance to engage when I ask you to select 3 or four multiple choice questions, which we know you will love doing”. Instant turn off, right? Yet so many online experiences offer exactly this as their “engagement” model.

‘Only by drawing on the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ can the value that is lost by over dependence on hierarchy be unlocked.’ Julian Goddard, Associate at the Management Lab at London Business School, 2010

Yes, of course when a learner logs on they should see some order – rooms to visit, if you like. However if your system doesn’t allow choices in what to spend time on, and how to apply learning to the workplace – within the relevant room – the learning experience becomes passive, and disengaging. It becomes like a compliance training module – something you do because you have to, rather than it being value adding. Social learning is more like being on LinkedIn – you have a feed of things you are interested in, or are relevant to your business. You scroll the feed and select those of interest to you. There are a variety of items. Reading you can share with others, case studies, short videos, and discussion boards where your peers comment on how they are using the materials – this is where learning occurs.

Learners who construct their learning experience from scaffolding are more engaged, and have more retention and interaction. They have bought in to the learning experience.

MYTH THREE: Interaction should be only online from now on
(true learning happens socially – face to face still counts)

OK, so this is the biggest failure of online learning. Online learning is only a delivery mechanism for knowledge, stories and materials. It’s not a replacement for the real work of learning – person to person. Yes you

have strong learning online on the forums. These are great ways to share, collaborate and highlight pathways for other learners. But if your leaders stories, passion, curiosity and learning stays on the web – how are they curating the culture in their own team?

Social learning extends beyond the online environment – creating cohorts of leaders who share their learning with each other – leader to leader – in person allows a deeper level of vulnerability, assimilation and learning exchange.

Providing materials to support leaders to share learning with their own teams – learning by sharing – allows their stories, experiences and genuine interest in other’s learning to unfold and emerge. In the “real world” not just in the “virtual world”.

“Your online platform supports social learning and conversations that count. It doesn’t replace them.” Sonia Tallarida, Passionate Curator of Cultures, MD of Coherence Group,

The key here is to have your people leaders taking the accountability for creating adaptive learning experiences on the job – rather than only outsourcing learning to trainers or web modules. (There is still a place for training by the way – and that is as a part of your integrated learning pathway – together with your social learning strategy)

For a truly social learning experience to work – you need to create a social learning experience that goes beyond the online environment. Curated, simple leader led conversations that invite learning beyond the platform, together with structured cohorts of learning between modules. Bringing learning back where it belongs – at work.

Curious about how your can shift culture while shifting your learning approach? Give us a call – we love a whiteboard session about culture and learning.

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