Written by:

Holly Macdonald


March 5, 2010

I have a quirk.  An idiosyncracy.  A weirdness.  I group in 3’s.  I can’t help myself.  In writing most things, I want to have 3 examples, as in “da da, da da, and da da”.  It also explains why I like Venn diagrams.  A lot.  In an almost OCD way.  In my defence, I find that it’s a nice number to decide if an idea is weighty enough.  If I can only think of two examples, then maybe my term is too narrow.  If my list is more than 3, perhaps it is too broad of an idea.  Three seems just right.  It is a part of my natural desire to “chunk” information.  I like to have models, diagrams, and easy to remember methods (see there’s the 3 again) to organize things in my brain to make it make sense to me.  I think it helps others with sense-making, but maybe they are just being polite?  Or not even paying attention!  But, if I don’t help people make sense of things, then what exactly am I writing a blog for?  Exercising my fingers?  To keep me from eating that bag of chips calling me from my pantry?  I really want to write a 3rd item, but I’m going to refrain, as painful as it might be.

Anyhoo, my latest ‘triad’ is the concept of embed, extend, and enhance when it comes to using online tools in organizational learning, which might eventually become tripleE or somthing catchy.  What do I mean by that?

Embed – if learning is embedded in workflow or work processes, integrated with operations it is more likely to help people do their jobs.  For many of today’s knowledge workers, learning can be slipped in almost unnoticed, rather than separated out as a “class”.  For example, maybe a sales person has an appointment scheduled with a client and as they are scheduling their appointment, a short online reminder pops up with 3 key questions to cover based on the relationship or nature of the appointment.    

Enhance – lots of organizations struggle with making a transition to e-learning, thinking that they need an all or nothing approach.  Using e-learning or online learning to enhance an existing face-to-face program is a great way of introducing technology into the training function.  Trainers used to talk about “pre” and “post” activities as the way to enhance a training program, but with the online options available now, we can create these in a multi-media way, which may enhance learning during a face-to-face course.  It could be a digital scavenger hunt or other activity that happens within a traditional class.

Extend – those of us in the learning profession often argue that learning is a process, not an event, and to assume that a traditional classroom environment is sufficient is short-sighted.  There are many online options that allow organizations to surround a training event with little “eventlets”, which are linked by online options.  Rather than one “sheep dip” event, figure out how to string them together using online tools.

Do you have quirks that help you make sense of things?  Embrace your quirks.  All 3 of them.