Theories of Learning and Modern Workplace Learning

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* Groups
6: The SMARTER approach to workplace learning
Workplace Learning Stages 4 & 5
At the beginning of this Handbook we identified 3 stages of workplace learning. We have now seen how social media is being used for learning – both for formal training but also, and more significantly for underpinning informal, workflow learning. This had led to two further stages of workplace learning emerging (see Fig 11). But there is a clear difference between the two stages.

Fig 11: 5 stages of Workplace Learning
Stage 4 is where L&D departments are only interested in adding the “social” into their traditional approach to learning. Whereas in Stage 5, they are adopting a broader approach to workplace learning that encompasses both the formal and informal. They are also focused much more on using social and collaborative tools and approaches to help people work and learn smarter – in the ways that suit them – rather than managing a formal learning process. For those organizations at Stage 5, their definition of e-learning is now much closer to that of Cisco’s 2000 definition, as being about the use of technology for: “education, training, communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing.” Fig 11 (above) is a re-worked version by Jay Cross [see Workscape evolution] of my original chart and shows that, in Stage 5, there is less top-down control, an increase in providing support for informal learning, and the recognition that “working=learning, learning=working”. In other words, for those organizations in Stage 5, it is as much about a change in mindset as it is in a change in the tools. Although Fig 11 might imply that there needs to be a linear progression through the stages, this certainly does not need to be the case. In fact, if an organization is only at Stage 1, that is still providing classroom training, it would be very easy for them to leapfrog to Stage 5, i.e. Go straight to the finish line and in doing so avoid some of the (sometimes costly) mistakes of the past.

Fig 12: Leapfrog to end-state
Measuring the success of social learning
One of the other features of Stage 5 of workplace learning, is that there is also a new approach to measuring the success of learning. In Stages 1-4, which focus on delivering and managing formal learning, evaluation of learning is usually done using the Kirkpatrick model (or taxonomy) which involves a number of levels, as follows: * Level 1: Learner satisfaction

* Level 2: Learner demonstration of understanding
* Level 3: Learner demonstration of skills or behaviours
* Level 4: Impact of those skills and behaviours on the job A Level 5: ROI has been added subsequently to consider the cost-effectiveness of learning solutions. But as Jane Bozarth points out in How to evaluate e-learning. “Those who’ve attempted to employ the taxonomy have no doubt noticed some challenges in using it. For one, it invites evaluation after the fact, focusing on terminal outcomes while gathering little data that will inform training program improvement efforts. Jane also makes the following important point:

“It’s easy to understand why the Kirkpatrick taxonomy is appealing, and at face value appears straightforward to employ. The reality? Beyond checking for learner understanding, measurement becomes much harder. The truth? Despite all the talk about training evaluation and ROI, hardly anyone does anything beyond Level 2, and almost no one does anything at Levels 4 or 5.” The two main reasons why only Kirkpatrick Level 1 and 2 are carried out in most organizations are: 1. They are the easiest to do. It’s easy to set up “happy sheets” for Level 1 – and for scores to be given to such things as “interesting content” or helpful instructor”. For Level 2 test and quizzes can also be scored. 2. These quantitative metrics can also easily be tracked and managed in a learning management system, alongside other metrics like course completions...
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