Developing Training Field Manual

The world is changing and so is the world of learning and development. This 'wiki' is intended to be a ‘field-book’ or ‘manual’ for trainers who are supporting changing organisations into the future. This document is not a how-to manual although such insights may be in evidence. Rather, it provides the next generation with ideas and approaches to their own practice drawn from the inquiry of others .

It is a participative space where ICTI members can chip in with their own perspective, suggest areas and topics to be added or correct errors and update with more recent ideas and practice.

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Trends in learning & development

You can perform an online search for trends in learning and development and discover dozens of ideas from dozens of influential people all trying to suggest the trends of the year. Many of the predictions will be lost before the next year comes round but some have found traction and a few seem to have widespread support.

The trends offered in this page are not definitive nor guaranteed. They do, however, have the agreement of at least one other person working in Learning and Development.

Many of the trends are broadly technical in nature and might readily come under a broad heading of e-Learning. Without doubt many trainers are engaged with the process of delivering the training agenda via some form of online learning process. It seems rather premature to suggest that this is an appropriate consideration for all parts of the world. Even when the Internet is ubiquitous, challenges of bandwidth, personal computing power, energy supply etc make e-Learning a significant challenge. Even so these trends are present and are likely to impact upon learning and development in nations of the South sooner rather than later.

Trainers concerned about the way training is developing will recognise the following:

  • Training is becoming mobile
  • Training is becoming social
  • Training online is visual
  • Much training is offered without charge through so-called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
  • Training continues to be hampered by questions of affordability and value for participants
  • Organisations want to see that training will have an impact on their production
  • There is relatively little consideration given to the development of method and practice of training

Mobile Training [edit]

The trend towards delivering training online is made most effective by the ability of participants to engage while they are on the move. Not only in learning but in using the worldwide web in general the mantra has become 'Mobile First'. In other words, designers need to consider how users will access the information and presume that the first choice is via some form of mobile device. Design for them first.

In the developing world it is likely that the primary device for accessing online material for many will be some form of smartphone so when designing materials to support learning we need to think of how they will be used via a mobile device.

Of course, skills training invariably demands practical application so in addition to the mobile resources some degree of blended learning process could well be necessary to be effective. Effective trainers will be able to design and develop learning interventions which make good use of the mobile as well as face-to-face elements.

This connectedness amongst younger learners brings a challenge to our understanding of how learning works in the 21st century.

Becoming Social [edit]

Actually, learning has always been social. The current obsession which social learning is, again, a reflection with the trend towards e-Learning. In this context it is underlining the need to rediscover, in the online environment, ways of being social and of encouraging social interaction. So the online trainer will incorporate online social interaction and is likely to be well versed in the multiplicity of social networks. She will be able to choose which networks to use wisely with awareness of what is already in use in the particular culture.

But there is also a rediscovery of the importance of social interaction in face-to-face learning as well. The Institue's Executive Director, Andrew Steele, talks of a Coffee and Cake Budget as being an important part of supporting his training and building upon the social networks in real life.

Social networks also provide means of promoting training.

Visual Learning [edit]

The development of online learning has been encouraged by the easy availability of open source learning management systems. Almost all offer the equivalent of easily produced paper based resources which just happen to appear on screen. The craft of online learning development recognises the importance of the visual and audio content. This is more than just a recording of a lecture. The craftsman trainer will recognise the need to engaged all the senses and will develop an ability to produce engaging material. If necessary she will draw on the strengths of colleagues to produce good audio and visual resources which facilitate learning.

Massive Open Online Courses [edit]

So-called MOOCs have been challenging the online learning model not least by the free-of-charge model that they offer course participants. They are invariably media rich courses designed to take advantage of high production values.

The free-of-charge model does present a challenge to other training efforts. If a learner can gain a course from a highly regarded university free then why would he pay for a course from a small, less well known provider. This presents a growing problem for trainers who need to present the value of the training clearly.

Affordability and Value [edit]

Education is not cheap but sometimes it is presented as if it is. MOOCs are a good example. The universities offering these courses are doing so in order to make courses that have already been paid for in the residential situation available more widely. No qualifications are offered and certificates are generally only available for a fee. The cost of a European university course to, say, an African student is often completely outside their means. Even a local university course is unaffordable.

Trainers can work creatively with partners to demonstrate value to learners and to make the courses affordable whilst still ensuring that the individual student contributes to the costs in some way.

Trainers continue to have to work to make learning affordable to the learners. They also need to demonstrate to the organisations they serve that there will be a return on the investment it puts into the students it sends.

Pedagogy [edit]

The pedagogical frameworks that trainers work within are continually shifting. Although there are some fundamental principles which still hold true new ideas and approaches should cause us to review and revise our ideas as we progress.

The competent trainer will be engaging with literature in the field to keep abreast of new ideas that challenge her practice. Developing reflective skills can be a valuable means of engaging with our changing ideas.

Areas such as the connectedness of learners, the impact of the social dimensions, the shift towards e-Learning and online delivery all demand new ideas and changes in our understanding of how learning and development work.

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