Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TAG's Workplace Learning Society Crowdsources User Generated Content

By Clay Duda

One of this past year's topics for TAG’s Workplace Learning Society (WLS) was to tackle one of the “sacred cows” of the training industry: user generated content.

The WLS group has been focusing on emerging technologies and how they impact workplace learning. Last April, they took a look at mobile technologies and mlearning with an interesting glimpse at the possibilities of augmented reality and other advances.

Then in May, WLS Chair Paul Terlemezian led a thought provoking discussion that had industry leaders reconsidering their own methods of training. Keeping with the title of the session, Terlemezian divided the room into small 4-5 person teams to discuss what exactly user generated content was and how it fit into the various niches within the training industry.

Global Knowledge Territory Account Manager Ed Flynn had a hard time seeing how this new model of learning and feedback could easily fit into the structured training environment he is accustomed to, but nearly everybody agreed on the benefit of such content.

The big picture, Terlemezian explained, involved a shift within the industry far greater than just user generated content. The Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation are being challenged by Mosher and Gottfredson’s five moments of need.

“We think it’s a much better model,” Terlemezian said, referring to Mosher and Gottfredson’s model.

The session led to the rethinking of some old truths and hopefully to the priming of the next workplace learning innovation. A fair amount of user generated content already exists in the training industry, but its full potential seems to be just out of reach.

What if we got to the point where user actions could generate content unobtrusively, Terlemezian asks? What if you knew how well that lawn mower you sold is performing without having to ask? What if you could anticipate a customer's question before they asked? What if people could decide what, when and how they want to learn something new – and do it?

In a lot of ways the Kirkpatrick model stills holds true, but the training industry is witnessing changes in more ways than one.