When Josh Bersin speaks, people listen.

At least we at Entelechy do. Josh is a long-time industry pundit and expert in all things learning. And he’s shared more good stuff for us learning practitioners in his recently-penned article, A New Paradigm for Corporate Learning.

If you don’t have the time to read it right now, let me sum it up for you. Josh posits a fast-approaching learning paradigm where one learns as one works. He calls this “learning in the flow of work” and points to a couple examples to illustrate the concept:

  • A company with over 20,000 sales and service professionals uses Salesforce as their daily system for work and activity tracking. When the user opens a new opportunity on the system, the system could provide tips or recommend a video on how to effectively position a product or service.
  • A company project tracking system deploys safety tips and training recommendations when a new project is initiated.

Josh suggests, “While learning in the flow of work is not necessarily the solution for every application, it’s coming fast and I believe it’s the paradigm you should design around whenever you can.”

I’m going to take this further and suggest that as learning designers, we need to clearly differentiate information support from learning support. If we’re going to add value, we need to understand the differences between them and value of each.

Information support answers a question. Learning support seeks to address why you may have had the question in the first place.

For example, let’s say that you’re a sales professional working with Salesforce (like the first company bulleted above). Let’s further say that you forgot how to create a new opportunity in Salesforce. You need to answer your immediate question, “How do I create a new opportunity in Salesforce?” Upon getting the answer, learning support may offer suggestions to learn:

  • How to differentiate a lead from an opportunity.
  • How to position our products and/or services to an opportunity.
  • How to locate all your designated opportunities.

As learning support designers, we need to identify what else a skill, more knowledge, a tool the user might find useful if they found themselves here (at the point where they received their answer or where they are about to ask the question).

In the old days, we called such systems performance support systems. In the old days they were difficult to design and even more difficult to develop. With today’s tools, a re-focus on point-of-need learning and on-the-job application or “learning in the flow of work” is a positive step forward.

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If you found this post interesting, you might also enjoy our eGuide, Practical Training Design and Development Tips, which helps designers and developers strike a balance between design/development time and instructional effectiveness. The eGuide begins by first looking at the traditional instructional design and development model, ADDIE. From there, you'll find handy tips and tricks to help you shorten the training design and development cycle, focus the training on key outcomes, and create training that is twice as impactful in half the time.

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