June 27, 2011

The Educational T

Education, and specifically the art of designing, developing and delivering it, is far too often interpreted as an exercise in content depth. Moreover, it is continuously relegated to formal instructor-led or eLearning formats.

To shift to the ‘connected learning’ model, where learning is part formal, informal and social, education purists might assist the overall evolution of the industry (from antiquated to purposeful) by employing the use of The Educational T.

Education and thus the process of learning is denoted by the level of breadth and the level of depth that is required to ensure transfer of knowledge is occurring.

It is not solely depth that is required. Conversely, with the introduction of social and informal learning, many are worried formal learning opportunities such as eLearning and classroom instructor-led, will disappear. Rest assured all modalities are safe from extinction. What needs to be considered for a given topic, however, is what level of breadth may be necessary in concert with the level of depth to ensure the learner has the most holistic and expeditious result.

Let’s consider two examples to illustrate the model.

Customer Education departments are stuck in the Cenozoic era. High profit margins of 50%+ were or continue to be the norm due to an all instructor-led and eLearning diet of offerings. Rarely does a corporation’s customer education department venture off to position The Educational T for its customers as is illustrated below.


Why don’t they?

Partly it’s due to fear of change, and partly it’s due to an inability to think outside of the vortex that all education must be high in depth, rich in content, and thus developed for formal instructor-led or eLearning modalities. I argue they can utilize The Educational T and provide a much greater experience to their customers. (yes, some of it may have to be offered for free)

Another example concerns internal education departments.

Through the introduction of informal and social learning into an organization, one can benefit from an education menu being rich with both breadth and depth.

Clearly through the ‘connected learning’ model, one can appreciate the relationship between formal, informal and social learning modalities. When it comes to actually designing learning paths for your organization, whether in the learning team or elsewhere, employees would be wise to think through how the combination of both breadth and depth can aid in the learning objectives itself.

Not all content needs to go deep. Through the introduction of user generated content, facilitated by collaboration technologies, the breadth of content could be aided by company employees. That isn’t to say external vendors aren’t allowed to contribute to the breadth part of the equation though.

And yes, there is the argument that The Educational T, is too modality focused. For example, there are instances when instructor-led or eLearning may be found within the ‘breadth’ portion of the T. This representation of the T in the two examples showcased above is simply an example.

I leave it up to you to utilize a blank slate Educational T and determine how best to construct your education, learning paths, and your ultimate quest to ensure knowledge is adequately positioned for your target audience.

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