Written by:

Holly Macdonald


October 4, 2010

I recently read a couple of things from our UK friends which I found interesting.  I took a little time to read and compare, as I find that this is a great way for me to think a little deeper.    [note to self – is this a learning principle/theory to explore? Comparative learning a la Comparative Lit??].

Jane Hart – The State of Learning in the Workplace Today – Jane’s long blog post actually looks at both present and future for workplace learning.  Jane is a consultant and much of the post is derived from personal experience working with companies.  Jane’s main arguments, as I understand them, are that Workplace Learning Professionals need to:

  • Re-dress the balance between push (content heavy training) and pull (context heavy learning) – this has a heavy leaning towards SoMe
  • Develop self-sufficient, motivated, autonomous “smart workers” – by focusing less on content, more on skills to learn:
    • search + find
    • creatical thinking (is this a new word or a typo -“critical”)
    • creative thinking
    • analytical
    • networking
    • people
    • logic
    • a solid understanding of research methodology
  • Morph into performance consultants, with an emphasis on involving the people concerned (the “learner”) in the solution, which is not always training (amen to that)
  • Develop an open, enabling culture for learning and working

Martyn Sloman – L&D 2020 – A Guide for the Next Decade – research academic who specialises in learning training and development.  The 9 principles of this report are:

  1. Trust your judgement – “…requires the rejection of obsolete models that serve only to distract; it also requires a scepticism towards any superficially attractive new silver bullet or ‘ism’ “
  2. Understand the difference between learning and training
  3. Disregard anything that was written in the last century (except Bloom, he gets a pass in the next section) – interestingly, Sloman singles out Jay Cross and the informal movement as based on the cone of experience “folk myth”
  4. Distinguish between context and processes and seek to understand both
  5. L&D builds organisational benefits through higher value products and services
  6. Value lies in the eye of the beholder
  7. Try to develop the learning culture
  8. Different interventions have different strengths and weaknesses
  9. L&D is a craft activity which takes place in context.

Strong similarities in some aspects – fusion of L&D with OD, focus on performance, involving the learner.  But I have to say nothing earth-shatteringly new to my view anyway.

I also read the 2020 Workplace, which had more semantic web overtones and saw this post on the Future of Training & Development: New Social Learning – via @dpontefract (thanks Dan), which described holographic learning or virtual reality of some sort, which had a more futuristic feel to me.

Serendipitously I also watched the animated version of Stephen Johnson’s book Where Good Ideas Come From…(click on the image to the right to watch the video) his concept that innovation isn’t a eureka moment, but a collision of half-formed ideas fits well here.  Not that I’m calling either of these two writings half-formed, more that in the grand scheme of things, perhaps they are part of solution, not the solution themselves.

Are we in the L&D field searching for some kind of eureka moment?  Maybe to reach the eureka moment (what is the role of L&D) we have to work through the issues like:

  • Assessement – Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels or not
  • ROI
  • LMS – how dead is it?
  • Learning theories

And somewhere along the way a bunch of half-formed ideas will suddenly become the answer waiting there for us.  Thoughts?  Do you have a half-formed idea that you think is looking for its mate somewhere?


Martyn contacted me offline and reminded me of the charitable intent of his work.

“The publishers are making this ebook as a free PDF download with the option that those who find the material valuable make a donation to the Nick Webber Trust, which supports educational projects in Malawi. Nick Webber was a young volunteer lawyer who was tragically killed while working in the country and was a University colleague of one of Martyn’s sons – donations to https://www.justgiving.com/Martyn-Sloman2010ebook