Julie Clow, manager Learning Technologies at Google and George Selix from Sun Microsystems had an interesting session today titled: “The Role of Search in Learning: Leveraging Fingertip Knowledge in Our Designs”.
Julie opened the session by asking the audience to answer the following six questions in two contexts: for a self-initiated learning event and for an expert driven event:
- What was the latency between the desire to learn and the event?
- What was the total time spent on the learning event?
- What was the cost of learning?
- What % of total content have you used/will you use?
- How engaged were you during the learning event?
- How did you find the learning opportunities or resources?
Try and do the exercise now…. I’ll wait. You will notice some (obvious) differences in your answers for the two contexts. This led Julia to asking the following: Where do people go to search for learning opportunities in your organisation? How successful are these searches? (Do we even know?).
The problem with searches on the Intranet is that they cannot use the same algorithm that has made Google so successful: there is way less inter-linkage between different pages than on the web, which makes it harder to provide relevant search results. This begs the question on how you could design learning programs while taking into account the fact that people might search for them. Metadata could be relevant for this task. The people in the audience did not use metadata much and the general consensus was that metadata is only useful when it matches something that is relevant. Google, for example, has a leadership program which consists of five fields and a couple of competencies in each field. They have added information about these competencies as metadata to each of their learning resources. This way they anticipate what the user might search for.
Where is search in the ADDIE model? According to Clow we should think more deliberately about search during the design phase (I know… I too was surprised that this might come from Google; however I do agree with her). A useful model for doing this might be Conrad Gottfredson’s idea about the five moments with a need for learning:
- Learning how to do something for the first time
- Learning based on prior learning experience
- Learning at the point of application
- Learning when things change (delta-training)
- Learning when things go wrong
All in all a session that has given me many questions to think about and ideas to try out when I next implement a training program somewhere.