Delivery Models for Learning

Marcel de Leeuwe, Ruud Smeulders and I hosted a Masterclass on Learning Business Models at the Dutch E-learning Event. TU Delft’s Pieter de Vries has written a solid report (in Dutch) about this session: De waarde van Online Learning gezien door de ogen van Board members.

You can find the Dutch slides from the session on SlideShare:

I particularly like how Ruud adjusted the ubiquitous Business Model Canvas to be suitable for learning business models specifically (see slide 17).

The biggest piece of work that I did for the session was to try and created a typology of learning delivery models. I wanted to stretch people’s minds and make them think creatively about all the different ways that you can implement a learning intervention.

I started by defining five dimensions in which one way of delivering learning can be different from another. Although I define these dimensions as polar states, I do realize that you often have situations that are in between the two poles. The dimensions are as follows (in no particular order):

Facilitated ↔ Self-directed
Many learners ↔ One learner
Integrated in work ↔ Outside of work
Continuous ↔ Beginning and end
Content focused (consume materials) ↔ Activity focused (produce materials)

These binary dimensions give us 32 (2 to the power of 5) different learning delivery possibilities. This frames a broad range of activities as learning: from a magazine subscription (facilitated, one learner, outside of work, continuous and content focused) to team work in a project (self-directed, many learners, integrated in work, beginning and end and activity focused).

Not all possibilities make immediate sense. But with a little bit of thought I came to the following archetypical learning delivery methods (ordered from high to low involvement from the learning and development department):

  • Buying external knowledge (high)
  • E-learning module of about an hour (high)
  • Electronic performance support (high)
  • Few days face to face course with a trainer (high)
  • Multiweek online facilitated course (high)
  • External coach (medium)
  • Newsletter (medium)
  • Online community of practice (medium)
  • “Lunch and learn” session (medium)
  • Open learning materials (e.g. a wiki) medium)
  • Asking an internal expert (low)
  • Master-apprentice relationship (low)
  • Stretch assignment (e.g. a trainee programme) (low)
  • Teamwork in a project (low)

So here is my assignment for you: First try and map each of these archetypes to the five different dimensions. Then try and think which of these you are already using and which ones you would like to use. Finally, it would be good to try and list your personal preference for these five dimensions. For example: I like (to create) events that are activity focused, have a beginning and an end, involve many learners, are as integrated into the work as possible and fall somewhere in between self-direction and facilitation. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

As this blog is licensed under Creative Commons license, I would more than welcome anybody who would visualize these dimensions and the resulting delivery models.

Learning from the Outside, How External Focus Can Help Learning and Development

This presentation delivered on April 19 for the Irish Centre for Business Excellence Network tries to address why things are not changing fast enough in the (corporate) learning world by pointing out that we often fail to look to the outside. We rely on benchmarking without realising that this will never get us ahead of the game. We try to implement best practices rather than focus on emergent practice. Changing this requires finding our edge and trying to see what you can learn from there. For corporations and organisations the edge can be found in things like the consumerisation of IT, open source, experimental academia and the startup world.

You can download the presentation as a PDF or watch in on SlideShare:

I’ve used many sources to create the presentation. Here are all the relevant links in context.

In the past I have thought a bit about seredendipity and have written a few blogposts about the topic.

Bert De Coutere describes how Learning and Development is stuck in his blog post Learning got stuck in itself…. Steve Wheeler writes about the differences between upstairs (where the Learning Technologies conference was held) and downstairs (where the learning vendors could tout their wares) in his post titled Upstairs downstairs.

If you are interested to learn more about Omphaloskepsis, check out this Wikipedia article.

The following three companies (among many others) offer benchmarking in the learning space: Corporate University Exchange, BrandonHall and Bersin (their benchmarking data for 2011 is available here).

Youngme Moon has written a book titled Different in which she explains why products in a category all become alike. Harold Jarche reviews the book in a blog post titled Different – Review. In that review he refers to Tim Kastelle who lifts stwo diagrams out of Moon’s book in Be Great at One Thing. I remade the diagrams using the excellent Inkscape.

The Wikipedia page about the Cynefin Framework isn’t bad. Dave Snowden’s Harvard Business Review article about his framework and how it can help with leadership is titled Leader’s Framework for Decision Making (and maybe I should credit Mary E. Boone for once).

Automattic is an amazing company. They create and host the wordpress.com platform (more information). The Automattic creed is available on Matt Mullenweg’s website. Matt gets interviewed here. This map shows where all the “Automatticians” are located. Check out this page if you want to know more about Automattic or are interested in working for them.

If you want to know more about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) you should start here and then quickly move on to what Stephen Downes writes in his piece What a MOOC Does. The MOOC example I decided to reference in the presentation is Digital Storytelling also known as DS106.

The term Edupunk was coined in Jim Groom’s post The Glass Bees and quickly got its own Wikipedia article. Stephen Downes tied together a few good posts about the topic here and this article on BlogHer could also be a good start.

The big open online courses that are now fashionable and are starting to get a commercial face (Coursera and Udacity) owe their debts to MOOCs and the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU).

If you want to be kept up to date about learning technology “on the edge” then your best bet is likely to pay close attention to Audrey Watters’ blog Hack Education (not mentioned in my presentation).

Mozilla‘s mission page is here and it is worthwile reading their whole manifesto. Their Open Badges program is getting a lot of deserved attention and could always use more participants. You can read about all their learning plans on their Learning Wiki, this is also the place to go to if you want to get involved.

If you are interested in becoming more entrepreneurial and innovative, regardless of whether you have your own business or are working in a company/organisation, you can’t do better than read The Lean Startup.

Learning Business Models

Any real innovation in Learning & Development will necessarily change the prevailing business model. Changing business models is hard. This is one of the reasons why many innovations don’t take hold.

Only by making current and potential business models more explicit will it be possible fundamentally change the way learning operates in an organisation.

Willem Manders and I are starting a year of playing with business models. We need help.

Join us!