The Fs of Learning

The Fs of Learning


What does learning look like? If I were to ask you what learning looks like in your organisation, what would you say?

Would you show me a facilitated workshop with engaged participants? Someone engrossed in the latest E-learning package? Perhaps a lunch and learn session?

The truth is learning takes all these forms and so many more.

But when we come to design and create our learning, with all the myriad solutions available, where do we start?

What the F?

When it comes to learning there are two reasons for people to want to learn. For interest and For function.

For interest learning happens when you just want to learn more. Something has gripped you and you want to explore it and know the detail behind it, the contrasting views and opinions, the different angles and sub-plots.

For Function learning is different, we do this to solve a problem. That problem might be how to make a pivot table in Excel (or something less 1990s), it might be how to conduct an appraisal, how to complete an expenses order, or even how to install a child's car seat. In these cases we don't need or want to know the detail, we don't want to attend seminars about these things. We just want to get it done.

Which F do you design for?

When you create learning in your organisation, which F do you imagine you are designing for?

It strikes me that the majority of learning at work falls into the For Function category. People just want to know how to do it so they can get it done.

Yet, the solutions created to meet these needs range from half day face to face courses to 6 week programmes. They confuse For Function learning with For Interest learning.

The inconvenient truth is that if I want to learn something for function, my first port of call is YouTube and not L&D. When I need to create a pivot table, I search YouTube, I don't want a half day course, I want a 5 minute video.

And I'm not alone. In all the recent surveys I've seen on learning technologies, YouTube wins hands down.

Implications for L&D

So where does this leave L&D? realistically, our businesses primarily, if not solely, want us to handle For Function learning. They don't need their people to know the origins or history of something, the main theorists and their models. They need them to be able to do something they can't currently do.

So how do we support and encourage For Function learning? The key to this is exactly that - support and encourage it. Teach people how and where to find their own solutions. Teach them that it's ok to be on YouTube while your at work (though maybe cut back on the cute cat videos - you know who you are!).

We need to shift our attention from courses to resources. To look to curate content, to provide resources to people at their point of need and which specifically address their need.

There is still a future for L&D in For Function learning. It's just going to look quite different to how it looks now.

What do you think? Am I barking up the wrong tree or do you agree?

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