Friday, January 23, 2009

Learning Myths with Dr. Will Thalheimer

Another lunchtime webinosh with Dr. Will Thalheimer. The topic today: Myths the business side has about learning.

But first, the news.

Learning News

Inaugural oath flub. Justice Roberts tried to administer the oath from memory. He should have had a job aid.

Next Brown Bag will be Friday February 6th. Stay tuned for topic.

Question of the Week -- Economy

How has the economy affected your learning unit?

  • 9% Hit us Hard
  • 47% Hurt a little
  • 41% Not much effect
  • 3% Helped us

MYTHS the Business Side Has about Learning

Client asked him to develop a course for business side. To help improve on-the-job learning. Thought it would be good to address myths (asked clients, asked question on LinkedIn, looked at books).

Everybody's got myths: business side, learners, learning professionals

Captured 140 myths and categorized them (not a scientific set of findings...)

Asked participants to submit the own myths they've come across.

Most Popular Categories of Myths (A Top Six List)

6. Manager think learning and development is a low-priority part of their role.

5. Learners know how to learn.

4. Training and instructional design require no special skills or competencies.

3. Information presentation is sufficient as a training design.

2. Training alone produces improvements in on-the-job performance.

1. Bad learning designs are thought to be good learning designs.

Other High-Importance Categories:

  • On-the-Job learning is forgotten or not utilized or not supported.
  • It's a training issue. ("We need a course on this" when it might really be a management issue).
  • Formal training has little impact.
  • Experienced workers don't need training.
  • Learning development is easy and can be shortened or short-changed.
  • Measurement myths
  • Technology is key to learning success (we must use elearning, social media, video etc. -- nothing else is effective).
  • Learning designs don't need to specifically minimize forgetting (enable remembering).
  • Content doesn't need validation. (Do we really know if we're teaching the right stuff?)
  • Particular behaviors are easy to learn.
  • Learning is always beneficial. It is never disruptive or distracting. It never misinforms.
  • Opportunity costs of learning can be ignored.
  • We have to measure ROI.
  • We don't have to measure learning.

Bad Learning Designs Thought to be Good Learning Designs (a partial list, I can only type so fast!)

  • It's good to have new employees take ALL elearning courses right before they start work
  • Employees only learn by doing
  • Readings is always bad, boring
  • Training can be just as effective if we make it short
  • Training doesn't need pre or post work
  • We should and CAN cater to learning styles
  • Six-hour online course is fine
  • Some learning media are inherently better than other
  • More info = more learning
  • People remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they see
  • Most communication is by body language
  • We need more exciting visuals to grab attention
  • Immediate feedback is always better

What Can We Do About It?

Given that the Business side holds some myths as self-evident, what can we as learning professionals do about it?

55% responded that these myths cause great damage to learning and development.

Business side doesn't understand what we do, don't see the value add of learning and development.

From participants:

  • We can be mythbusters
  • Gently guide and present the right solution when presented with the wrong one
  • Need to discuss learning models and theories when appropriate (educate our clients)
  • Have proof and case studies of good design
  • Stick to the truths we know and respond to the business side tactfully (L&D is often seen as arrogant)
  • The best leaders DO understand the value
  • Provide real evidence of success
  • Help management solve problems, don't just do a workshop

Help people understand how learning works.

Learning Intervention --> Performance Situation --> Learning Outcomes

My notes from other Webinoshes in this series:

And don't forget:

Will Thalheimer: The Learning Show: Don't Forget Forgetting

Update: Here are Will Thalheimer's notes on the session.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the helpful writeup! Did Will or any participants have suggestions for where we could find case studies of good design? As in, "First we did the usual info dump and we got a pathetic result, and then we actually used some instructional design principles suggested by research, and we got this way better result. Here's the first course, and here's the second one."

Cammy Bean said...

Sounds like a great research project for someone! No one offered up a specific case study. I think it was of a wishful thinking kind of thing. I'll ask...

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Cammy!

Thanks for this!

Y'know, it's not just management in corporations that need this sort of knee-up. My experience is that education centres, even with their management of educators, frequently forget/turn-a-blind-eye to/are ignorant of some of the issues you've brought forward to us here.

Whenever there is the gap between the engine-room and the pilot, there are issues as to where we are going.

Catchya later
from Middle-earth