Have you heard author/educator, Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk? He shared his views about the need for a revolution in education in the talk, which has been viewed by millions till date.
He was of course referring to the education in our schools, but what he talks about is equally applicable to training in the corporate context as well – particularly when we think of standardized off the shelf online courses and customized eLearning courses.
It is not the first time that I heard someone talk about the need to transform our educational/training system, but the way he put it across hit the bull’s-eye. There are 2 problems with the way we train.
- Linearity – Life is not linear, but organic
- Conformity – One size doesn’t fit all
He equals current educational system as industrial, mechanical model that is based on linearity and conformity that puts people in pre-determined silos. That’s not really the best way to go about it. It is so because we, as individuals have different aptitudes and styles in the way we learn and absorb knowledge. Similarly, we have different passions. What is appealing to one does not to the other. For the best results, we need to provide flexibility to individuals to learn in the manner that fits their schedule, likes and preferences.
Another metaphor that he uses is of fast-food. Fast-food system adheres to conformity and standardization. Is it the best way to nourish our bodies? Not really, and we know the health consequences of having too much fast-food. Similarly, standardization of a curriculum and following a linear pattern of completing courses or course modules is not really healthy. The curriculum needs to be customized based on the target group, their current knowledge level, their interests and what makes sense to them.
In the corporate learning context, we have off-the-shelf eLearning courses which are something like fast food. It is easy to buy and administer them to your employees, but would the course be relevant to the unique situation your employees are in? Would it have the context and background under which your employees function? I don’t think so.
As Sir Robinson suggests, instead of the industrialized and manufacturing model, we need to adopt the agricultural model that is not a mechanical process but an organic process. A farmer sets up conditions, alters and modifies them as required such that his crop flourishes. Similarly, we need to set up a system that is not a clone of another but is customized as per the audiences, circumstances and objectives of each organization. So, an off-the-shelf eLearning course is not such a good idea. It is always better to get courses customized, based on the unique requirements and special circumstances under which your organization functions.
If you want to hear Sir Robinson speak, check out the video below.