TrainingZONE Parkin Space column of 12/29/04:
Last December I made a list of “professional resolutions” that would make me altogether a better person in 2004. Having conveniently misplaced that list, I am not able to tell how I did, though I am sure it was not an admirable performance. Now it’s time to put together a new list. So what do I need to achieve in 2005 to do a better job as both a trainer and a consultant?
My New Year training resolutions:
1. Start learning Mandarin.
2. Do not get comfortable with one way of doing things, keep looking for better ways to achieve the goals, but do not be easily distracted by bright shiny learning objects.
3. Do not give up easily where decision-makers don’t want to be bothered with the complications of innovation. Try harder to justify the intelligent application of emerging technologies in learning designs where it is blindingly obvious (to me) that these will enhance learning. Develop better ways of explaining to non-technical traditionalists the use and impact of such tools as social networks, RSS, and peer-to-peer collaboration.
4. Work on a training evaluation system that actually measures my performance against the specified learning goals, and quantifies the impact that I am having on business objectives.
5. Stop acceding to demands for a training solution to what is really a management problem. I am sure that a large proportion of the training that takes place fits this mode, and it is not easy to turn away this kind of business, but I for one am not doing it any more. If I can’t successfully provide the consulting solution, I am not going to fake a training solution. Not only is it frustratingly inadequate to “train” people then send them back into an environment in which the training will have no effect, it abuses their time and energy, wastes the clients’ budget, and lowers the reputation of training generally.
6. Try to write an objective guide to SCORM and AICC in plain English that even I can understand. Focus on the practical implications for the design of learning experiences and clarify the rather specific niche that such standards and models have in the wider context of learning, and of learning administration.
7. Learn more from learners how best to help them learn. Spend more time with people to understand their evolving preferences and behaviours where learning is concerned. Try to gain better insights into their informal learning processes, and exploit those insights in more formal learning experiences.
8. Always put the needs of individual trainees ahead of my own needs, and the needs of my clients’ business ahead of all else.
9. Spend more time in the classroom and on the conference podium. Reverse my recent trend toward being very virtual, and get back to doing a lot more face-to-face communication. (For years I was a strong advocate of the virtues of virtual-ness, but, while the efficiencies are undeniable, there is a point beyond which your batteries stop recharging).
10. Campaign for free wireless broadband in every classroom, airport, conference venue, and hotel room. It is rapidly becoming as expected a part of the environment as air conditioning or electricity.
11. Design and build a prototype learning system that is delivered exclusively via low-spec mobile phone (I am particularly interested in basic literacy training).
12. Collaboratively engage with more people in the learning profession, with the goal of writing more useful how-to papers. Finish writing my book.
13. Do some pro bono work for a deserving cause.
14. Behave better: Stop using the fuzzy term “e-learning”. Stop rolling my eyes every time someone else uses it without clarifying specifically what they mean. Stop pronouncing it “HellMS” when in the company of LMS vendors.
15. Finally kick the PowerPoint habit.
It looks like 2005 will be another one of those NASA centrifuge-ride years. But I trust it will bring health, wealth, and happiness to all.