Friday, July 3, 2009

Why Instructional Design is dying.........

Apologies for the long time between posts. Don't forget to follow me on twitter as I am constantly micro blogging but am using my blog now for lengthy thought provoking posts!

Let me qualify this by first pointing out that I am only referring to the corporate learning ecology here and not the academic ecology.

There are two major aspects to this that I am now focusing on as I see it being critical to the future of effective learning.
Firstly, it is important for L&D professionals to have had some business experience. There are 3 transient levels that impact learners and designers in particular need to take these into account. Firstly an understanding of the industry ecology that the company works in is imperative. The global forces and the industrial forces at work are constantly forcing companies to evaluate and re-evaluate their strategic and operational directions. A 5 year plan is aspirational at best in today's fast moving world. The next layer down is the business context and this is subject to the cultural motives of the organisation and the resilience of the various units that make up the business. As ecological forces move in and force change, so does the leadership and management of the various organisations that are impacted by the ecological forces and they start to create new or revised contexts for individuals to cope with. Lastly the inner core is people and their belief systems. I focus on belief systems because at the end of the day, most of what we produce as learning designers, is designed to impact that belief system. That's why behaviour changes. Because an individual recognises something as important to them and makes that decision for change. (I think most people can relate to this.)

So these forces that are constantly at work and bi-directional in their influence look something like this:

Secondly, the advent of social media and its capacity for mobile delivery forces the corporate learning function to recognise that the future design of learning materials will be informal and performance oriented. Performance support has always been talked about as the next big thing but we have consistently focused in the past on integrating this as task oriented learning at the point in time that the task needs to be achieved. The problem is that we buried it in systems to be called up by an F1 key or click on a help function. Now, I can tweet, link in, facebook, friend feed my vast array of contacts to find my answers. And lets face it, the answer will always be aligned to my beliefs and in a lot of cases will be contextual.

Instructional design of formal learning materials is dying because of the aforementioned and I am sure a host of other reasons. This is not to say that it is not needed. I still believe that good, robust, well researched ID produces enhanced learning outcomes. It is just that organisational contexts are now moving too fast to support this unless there is rapid design that is effective!

Re-usable learning objects I hear you say........... time to ruminate again.

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