L&D QuestionTime – Margaret Long

Margaret’s specialties include IT Training, Using NLP in the context of training and learning, course development, e-learning development, train the trainer. Instructional design for e-learning, blended learning design and implementation. Coaching and mentoring. LMS implementation, administration and troubleshooting.

In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

The perennial demands to produce better quality learning across multiple platforms and with a true blended approach with the same or reduced resource  is a constant worry. More perceptive people than me have written widely about this but it does seem to be a persistent trend.

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?
I am an avid webinar watcher – I don’t often get the chance to engage during working hours but I catch up on recordings as often as possible.  They are great for opening your eyes to new opportunities and approaches, but similarly I find it helpful to trawl through “case studies” – especially when I am scoping out new training.  Often there will be an example which sparks your imagination, or even just a phrase which speaks to your own creativity.

Recording are also brilliant for letting you catch up on the sessions you could not attend at conferences (am I the only person who finds it really hard to choose when the programme is announced?)  and for revisiting the session which hit the nail on the head so well that you couldn’t take notes fast enough.

For sheer “stretching” I watch people like Julian Stodd* who is as close to cutting edge as can be whilst still grounded in business needs.  His talks are always thought provoking and whilst some of his approaches might not be for our law firm, there are plenty of  ideas which can be adapted.

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

At first glance virtual reality has to be a really strong contender.  It provides a strong emotional response in the learner which prompts better engagement and retention. Beyond the obvious applications (high risk simulation and the like) I hope it could progress into a full immersive experience for all sorts of learners at all sorts of levels  – rather than attending a workshop on negotiation, imagine being able to enter a VR session with a branching scenario in which you could try out various approaches.

What “game changers” would you like to see and why?
As an Elearning designer and LMS Systems administrator I would like to see some clearer definition in the SCORM vs TinCan debate.  It astonishes me that we are still using SCORM 1.2 in preference to 2004 because of issues around LMS compatibility, when the increased granularity of 2004 would be much better suited to our needs.  I’d also like to see a concerted effort on the LMS/LCMS front to provide flexible and dependable tools that could provide a scalable approach to managing learning and content. With types of learning proliferating this is going to become

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?

I hope for a “rebalancing” of the various contending strands in the training arena, and an acceptance of those who choose to learn differently from the latest delivery craze.  There is room for us all in the learning universe.
I hope that there will be far more honest investment in coaching and mentoring – beyond the “tick box” approach that we have seen in recent years.  This is something I feel strongly about – it is one thing to have a learning plan foisted on you (and it shows that the business has the capability to put one together) but how much better to have some human involvement rather than a sterile plan.

I think the role of the trainer will continue evolving and changing and hopefully will form an integral part of performance support (whatever that means in 2020). Trainers will be regarded more as learning consultants with a specialism in a particular area of industry and will be skilled in helping individuals to build learning plans for themselves from the wide range of delivery channels within the organisation.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Invest in your own learning as much as you can and get out there, try things and talk to people. In particular, talk to people outside your immediate sphere of operation. Everyone has experience of learning and almost everyone can be coaxed into telling you about it.  Try really hard to talk to learning specifiers too – you can’t deliver unless you can find out what was in their mind when they set down what they wanted.
However technology evolves, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are training people – not software. People who need you to interpret and facilitate, support and champion them every step of the way.  Believe that what you are doing has a real benefit to the business and be prepared to speak up for that.  The software changes in a heartbeat, human nature evolves over time. Understand your own values and trust your judgement.

* Julian Stood will be speaking at this years Learning Live – to find out further information relating to Julian’s session then simply click here and scroll down.

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