Dan Pontrefact, Marcia Conner and Kerry Brown have written a great piece, Revolutionize Corporate Learning. I think it's a brilliant piece written by some top notch folks...my only issue is that if the aim is really to revolutionize corporate learning, then the manifesto doesn't go far enough. And please, I am operating on the principle of "any idiot can write the second draft" here - meaning that without taking anything away from what Dan et al have crafted, I want to suggest some additions.
First, let's start with some semantics (insert collective groan here). Corporate Learning - there is no such thing. There is also no "mobile learning", no "e-learning" - there is game-based learning (that locates the opportunity for learning in a specific instructional medium. Did I mention there is also no "social learning" - if there is, please describe for me the opposite...anti-social learning. Why is this an issue? Names matter here - a rose by any other name will not smell as sweet... Why? Well for one because we can't do ROI on "learning" because we can't sell learning. We can sell training, performance support, even environments rich with opporunities for learning but we can't sell learning and we need to stop saying we can.
Second, we need to fully realize the scope of the ecosystem in which we operate. Remember those great sci-fi stories about some group or culture and then at the end, the big reveal is how that group or culture is just a small part of some much larger ecosystem? World in a grain of sand stuff. Thus it is with "corporate learning." We operate inside a system and part of that system is one that is supplied with a population of willing workers educated in instructional design curriculum that on average is outdated at a minimal level simply does not provide the kind of education required for people to think differently enough about "learning" to be able to revolutionize it - right now, we're dependent on mutants (and I count myself one). We come from different backgrounds and have a range of experiences and toolsets but we weren't produced by any conscious program to generate creative thinkers...we're random mutations.
Another part of that ecosystem that we operate in, is a large group of people who have never even tried to spell ISD and who will operate for a good number of years, utterly unsure of what it is and why you seem to think it's important to the organization. Here's a little experiment, find the library of HBR case studies - now search for all the case studies that focus on training or even better the role of instructional design and/or ADDIE in corporate success. Let me know what you find. To all the other people in our organizations (and I'm generalizing to save time/space) "learning" or "training" is a department that creates content when requested to or makes other people take that awful, time-wasting compliance training. We need to be cognizant of the perspectives of people in our little terrariums and know that working to change thier mindsets is critical and integral as well.
Let's recap - we've decided on a name change and we've agreed to keep in mind that we operate as part of a larger ecosystem.
Here's what that leaves us with having to address:
- The reality of having to reengineer the existing curricula of ISD programs at both the undergrad and grad level
- The reality that we have to re-educate all of our corporate peers about the role of a training department
- The idea that we need to develop a sensibility within the profession, that critically examing the canon on a regular basis, is something that we owe to ourselves and our clients (and leave the gentle at home, we're all grown-ups here - and I just need to say that I think that Donald Clark's 50 blog posts on 50 learning theorists, is a perfect example of this).
- The need to bang away at the accepted canon of instructional design and understand that for most of it's life, ISD has had nothing to do with fostering learning.
- The need to blend in (and by that I mean develop expertise in and start using) information and research that is coming out of neuroscience (w/out buying into the sometimes specious focus on the mystical ability of FMRI to tell us how brains work) and from work on things like cognition and memory. (If we actually want to deal with "learning")
So we change the tenets on which ISD is based. Then we change the curriculum which is taught in colleges and by our professional organizations. Then we change clients/employers' ideas of what we can and should be providing them. Then we have created a fertile field in which a new profession can catch and grow.