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.

8 Replies to “The Educational T”

  1. The Educational T can be used a KM tool or should we say , Personal KM tool. Having the freedom of choosIng or “placing” the type of learning On the T will trigger stronger returns on learning and development for existing and new Workers. I value this post because I strongly see The T as a great “planning” system that helps us in calling ourselves , knowledge workers Or even better, empowered workers…

  2. It would be interesting to create a second map (a second “Educational T”) of “what” business people should be learning. (i) In terms of breadth, there are the generic professional development type skills. These include all of those skills and practices that grease the wheels of efficiency and effectiveness at work, e.g., communication, conflict resolution, basic project management, and so on. (ii) Spanning both breadth and depth, we then have the Master Leadership Practices which help ensure that the teams and organization as a whole are well managed and lead and that drive progress/improvement and sustainable success. Master Leadership Practices include managing talent, coaching, leading teams and facilitative leadership, leading change, managing culture, and so on. (iii) A third category would be the job related skills (often technical in nature). At the individual level, these are the core competencies of the job itself that enable job mastery / success on the job / job expertise and competence. At the organizational level, the “job related skills” are the core skills and practices that enable the organization to execute its strategy and make concrete progress on achieving its vision. The Education T (menu and media) becomes strategic when it serves the work that most needs to be done, as outlined roughly in the three categories presented here.

    1. Hey Joel – is your idea akin to role-based learning paths albeit identified by the Educational T?

      Some of the skills are transferrable from role to role (perhaps your org skills), while others may be more strategic in nature … all coupled by some of the tactical and specific role skills.

      Whaddya think?

  3. Not completely sure I understand the question. I would say yes, and speculate that different roles call for different learning paths / different skills — some with longer chains of skills (paths) than others, some in tighter clusters than others (related/complimentary skills), and some skills that transfer more easily to some job than others. The general idea is that in addition to asking about how we can best learn (a rich “Educational T” to anchor learning in culture and nurture continuous and relevant learning) we also need to ask about what kind of expertise we need our employees & leaders to develop (maybe an “Expertise T”). Some expertise is generic, some is job specific, some is strategy specific (related to corporate vision, strategy, core values…–as appropriate). I also add the category “master leadership practices” — like generic PD but higher level, more complex competencies that drive sustainable organizational success above and beyond job success and success in the silos. Did I understand your question?

  4. I think it might be interesting to re-read Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society and maybe Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed in the context of your “Educational T.” Might be a few other classics we could tackle after that – or post-modern / post-structuralist classics. Any takers for a reading group?

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