Things I Read This Week

While I didn’t manage to keep my Instapaper read later list to quite such a small number this week, I have been able to whittle it down to the interesting reads I actually used. Some old, some new, all interesting, perhaps a little random.

My inbox on Monday contained an interesting piece from Tom Kuhlmann at the Rapid eLearning Blog. His Guiding Principle for all Rapid E-Learners had some useful reminders for any learning designer - that we should not let content determine course design. As Tom explains:

Instead of being intentional about the instructional and visual design of the course we allow the existing content to determine how we build it.

And after having interesting and engaging conversations with content experts this week, Tom’s advice to steer conversations away from “important” towards the “right” content was a useful model to shift the conversation to one about context.

Subject matter experts tend to think everything’s important. And it probably is in the proper context. But “important” content is not the same as the “right” content that is appropriate to the goals of the elearning course.

Jeremy McCarthy paid attention to similar ideas in his piece Why Experts Don’t Make the Best Teachers. Drawing upon ideas that would make Chris Argyris and Donald Schon proud, Jeremy reminds the reader of the importance of reflection and humility in 'expert' teachers.

We naturally assume that those with the greatest amount of expertise would make the best teachers....The problem with experts is “they have no idea how they do what they do.”

Jeremy is talking about yoga teachers, but the though applies to anyone. I've never understood why some teachers are afraid to be seen as wrong. Just because you know how to, for example, use a piece of software, it doesn’t mean you can help others do the same. If you feel your students just don’t ‘get it’, perhaps you should listen to Jeremy’s advice for the teacher: Learning is important.  But so is the ability to “unlearn.” Rather, your ability to unlearn.

Ontuitive’s “Here it is” or “Come and Get It”—Reactive vs. Proactive Performance Support took me away from content expert vs. learning to the location of performance materials.  

The challenge of performance support today isn’t a lack of resources. There is, in most organizations, a proliferation of those. The challenge is getting to the right resource in a timely manner.

The blog post was a good reminder that learning design has to include location and accessibility of materials, as well as content and structure. It has helped begin a conversation as to where on my workplace employee portal new learning materials should be situated.

A few, briefer outlines.

The Learning and Performance Institute have a great thoughtpiece whitepaper on Proving the Value of L&D. As I wrote last week, I have been interested in finding convincing arguments for social and collaborative learning practices. This paper had some interesting ideas on linking learning directly to performance. You may also have seen links this week to their new Learning Capability Map.

Harold Jarche talks a lot about narrating your work as a way to engage and learn in networked organisations. However, how to encourage others to do the same as me is tricky. has an interesting piece that may provide some ideas in 8 reasons your employees hate to blog (and how to fix that).  We’re working on this next week at work, so it’s a helpful resource.  

Two final pieces.  First, Carleton University released their 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada.  The part that most astonished me is that respondents, on average spend one third of working hours using email.  It’s time to mindfully use more social technologies in the workplace and move away from Outlook for everything.

We could do worse than follow Clearbox Consulting’s Digital Workplace Manifesto as a first step.  This is a great piece that I’ve used to start another social technology and learning conversation at work.