By Susan Beyers
As someone with a decades-long career in learning, I am a very big fan of “Ah-ha” moments. This March, I attended a seminar on informal learning with learning expert Bob Mosher, formerly the Director of Learning and Learning Evangelist at Microsoft, and the “Ah-ha” moments came fast and frequently.
Hosted by Chicagoland Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (CCASTD), “Informal Learning, Are we missing a HUGE opportunity?” was a seminar of great interest to CARA. CARA just published a report on the topic, and CARA SVP, Jane Ehrenstrom, will host an April webinar for TechServe Alliance on the subject.
The discussion on “Performer Support at the Moment of Need” was an enlightening topic, and here I will share my impressions of three powerful nuggets of information Bob Mosher imparted during the presentation.
Lesson #1: Businesses Are Over-Teaching & Overwhelming in the Classroom
Today’s learners are over taught in the classroom and overwhelmed with information. According to the Research Institute of America, people retain only 33% of classroom training after 48 hours of training and only 20% three weeks after training. Long story short: somewhere between 70% and 80% of classroom time can potentially be a lost investment of time and money.
Lesson #2: Don’t Train for Everything, Train for the Moment of Need
Teaching learners to access the right tools in their “moment of need” should be a critical objective of classroom learning. Most new trainees on the job turn to a colleague at the next desk over in their moment of need instead of turning to their performer support aids. The result is productivity lost for two staff members and the possibility that short cuts and poor techniques are passed along.
Mosher gave the example of C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger who successfully landed a commercial airliner on the Hudson River. In his moment of need before landing that plane, he accessed one tool—the emergency water-landing checklist under his seat. That is what he was trained to use and that is exactly what he turned to in a powerful moment of need.
If businesses can train their employees to access their core learning aid in their moment of need, they are fostering essential informal learning—the kind that happens on the job and in those important moments of need “when they are trying to remember or apply information, when things change, or when something goes wrong.” This is where knowledge accessed becomes knowledge gained.
Lesson #3: Focus Classrooms on Applying Knowledge vs. Gaining Knowledge
Formal classroom learning will have greater impact when refocused on knowledge application. If the classroom is the place learners become experts in accessing their “performer support” tools the workplace will become the place where the right knowledge is applied at the right time. This is what transfer of learning into the workflow is all about.
The entire seminar was an important reminder that we can make the leap from knowledge to competency with the appropriate learning experience and the right tools in hand.