Tag: learning

Approaching perfection

I’ve never understood the rationale of the 80% pass mark.

Which 20% of our work are we prepared to do wrongly?

It might explain the universally poor state of CX that companies are evidently willing to wear, but it’s arguably more serious when we consider the acronym-laden topics that are typically rolled out via e-learning, such as OHS and CTF. Which 20% of safety are we willing to risk? Which 20% of terrorism are we willing to fund?

There has to be a better way.

I’ve previously contended that an assessment first philosophy renders the concept of a pass mark obsolete, but went on to state that such a radical idea is a story for another day. Well my friends, that day has arrived.

An arrow pointing from Diagnose to Remediate then back to Diagnose.

Recursive feedback

Back in 2016, the University of Illinois’ excellent mooc e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age piqued my interest in the affordance of “recursive feedback” – defined by the instructor as rapid and repeatable cycles of feedback or formative assessment, designed to continually diagnose and remediate knowledge gaps.

I propose we adopt a similar approach in the corporate sector. Drop the arbitrary pass mark, while still recording the score and completion status in the LMS. But don’t stop there. Follow it up with cycles of targeted intervention to close the gaps, coupled with re-assessment to refresh the employee’s capability profile.

Depending on the domain, our people may never reach a score of 100%. Or if they do, they might not maintain it over time. After all, we’re human.

However the recursive approach isn’t about achieving perfection. It’s about continuous improvement approaching perfection.

One arrow with a single red dot; another arrow with a wavy green line.

Way of working

While the mooc instructor’s notion of recursive feedback aligns to formative assessment, my proposal aligns it to summative assessment. And that’s OK. His primary focus is on learning. Mine is on performance. We occupy two sides of the same coin.

To push the contrarianism even further, I’m also comfortable with the large-scale distribution of an e-learning module. However, where such an approach has notoriously been treated as a tick & flick, I consider it a phase in a longer term strategy.

Post-remediation efforts, I see no sense in retaking the e-learning module. Rather, a micro-assessment approach promotes operational efficiency – not to mention employee sanity – without sacrificing pedagogical effectiveness.

In this way, recursive feedback becomes a way of working.

And the L&D department’s “big bang” initiatives can be saved for the needs that demand them.

Great and small

English is a funny language.

Coloured by countless other languages over centuries of war, politics, colonialism, migration and globalisation, many words have been lost, appropriated or invented, while others have changed their meaning.

In Australian English for example, fair dinkum means “true” or “genuine”. Linguaphiles speculate the phrase originated in 19th Century Lincolnshire, where “dinkum” referred to a fair amount of work, probably in relation to a stint down the mines. Add a tautology and 10,000 miles, and you have yourself a new lingo.

Thousands of other English words have their origins in ancient Greek. One pertinent example for L&D practitioners is pedagogy (formerly paedagogie) which derives from the Hellenic words paidos for “child” and agogos for “leader”. This etymology underscores our use of the word when we mean the teaching of children.

And yet our language is nuanced. We may alternately use pedagogy to mean the general approach to teaching and learning. Not necessarily teaching, not necessarily children. In this broader sense it’s an umbrella term that may also cover andragogy – the teaching of adults – and heutagogy – self-determined learning.

For example, when Tim Fawns, the Deputy Programme Director of the MSc in Clinical Education at the University of Edinburgh, blogged his thoughts about pedagogy and technology from a postdigital perspective, he defined pedagogy in the university setting as “the thoughtful combination of methods, technologies, social and physical designs and on-the-fly interactions to produce learning environments, student experiences, activities, outcomes or whatever your preferred way is of thinking about what we do in education”.

When Trevor Norris and Tara Silver examined positive aging as consumer pedagogy, they were interested in how informal learning in a commercial space influences the mindset of its adult patrons.

And when I use the word pedagogy in my capacity as an L&D professional in the corporate sector, I’m referring to the full gamut of training, coaching, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, on-the-job experiences and performance support for my colleagues across 70:20:10.

A standing businessman facilitating a training session with a group of colleagues seated in a semi circle.

So while I assume (rightly or wrongly) that the broader form of the term “pedagogy” is implicitly understood by my peers when it’s used in that context, I spot an opportunity for the narrower form to be clarified.

Evidently, modern usage of the word refers not only to the teaching of children but also to the teaching of adults. Whether they’re students, customers or colleagues, the attribute they have in common with kids is that they’re new to the subject matter. Hence I support the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of pedagogy as the practice of teaching, regardless of the age of the target audience.

If pedagogy includes adults, then logic dictates we also review the exclusivity of the term andragogy. Sometimes children are experienced with the subject matter; in such cases, an andragogical approach that draws upon their existing knowledge, ideas and motivations would be applicable. Hence I dare to depart from the OED’s definition of andragogy as the practice of teaching adults, in favour of the facilitation of learning. Again, regardless of the age of the target audience.

With regard to heutagogy, I accept Hase & Kenyon’s coinage of the term as the study of self-determined learning; however in the context of our roles as practitioners, I suggest we think of it as the facilitation of self-determined learning. That makes heutagogy a subset of andragogy, but whereas the latter will have us lead the learners by pitching problems to them, hosting Socratic discussions with them and perhaps curating content for them, the former is more about providing them with the tools and capabilities that enable them to lead their own learning journeys.

A tree structure flowing from Pedagogy down to Pedagogy, Andragogy and Heutagogy; with Instructivism, Constructivism, Connectivism and Novices, Intermediates, Experts aligned respectively.

This reshaping of our pedagogical terminology complements another tri-categorisation of teaching and learning: instructivism, constructivism and connectivism.

As the most direct of the three, instructivism is arguably more appropriate for engaging novices. Thus it aligns to the teaching nature of pedagogy.

When the learner moves beyond noviceship, constructivism is arguably more appropriate for helping them “fill in the gaps” so to speak. Thus it aligns to the learning nature of andragogy.

And when the learner attains a certain level of expertise, a connectivist approach is arguably more appropriate for empowering them to source new knowledge for themselves. Thus it aligns to the self-determined nature of heutagogy.

Hence the principle remains the same: the approach to teaching and learning reflects prior knowledge. Just like instructivism, constructivism and connectivism – depending on the circumstances – pedagogy, andragogy and heutagogy apply to all learners, great and small.

Digital Learning conferences in Australia in 2021

Let’s try that again.

Just as we were gearing up for another year’s worth of cutting edge insights and showcases, the coronavirus had other ideas.

While some of the digital learning conferences I had listed for 2020 went ahead as planned, others pivoted to virtual delivery, while the rest were ironically postponed or cancelled.

In this country we are confident in vaccination and elimination, so the following events are expected to proceed this year.

Coffee mug next to a laptop featuring numerous attendees in an online meeting

EDIT: The ongoing pandemic may affect these events. Please refer to each event’s website for more information.

iDESIGNX
Virtual, 24-25 February 2021

Disruptive Innovation Summit
Sydney, 17-19 March 2021

International Conference on Virtual and Augmented Reality Simulations
Melbourne, 20-22 March 2021

Learning & Development Leadership Summit
Sydney, 23-24 March 2021

Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference
Brisbane, 7-10 July 2021

Learning & Development Leadership Summit
Melbourne, 27-28 July 2021

EduTECH / Learn@Work
Virtual, 17-18 August 2021

Eportfolio Forum
Virtual & Sydney, 20-21 October 2021

AITD Conference
Virtual & Melbourne, 27-28 October 2021

LearnX Live! Awards
Virtual, 17 November 2021

HR Innovation & Tech Fest
Sydney, 9-10 November 2021

TECHSPO
Sydney, 24-25 November 2021

Future Work APAC Summit
Adelaide, 24-25 November 2021

L&D Symposium
Hunter Valley, 25-26 November 2021

ASCILITE
Armidale, 29 November – 1 December 2021

EdTechPosium
Canberra, 10 December 2021

This list will grow over time as more events are announced.

If you become aware of another one, let me know and I’ll add it in!

Semantics, semantics

I dislike grammar jokes, pedants, and Oxford commas.

That’s my jovial way to end a year that will be remembered as a tough one for a long time to come.

I found blogging a welcome distraction, so much so that in addition to my annual list of e-learning conferences in Australia (which took a beating!) I churned out no fewer than ten thought pieces.

My joke at the start of this summary is a nod to the theme of semantics, which I maintain are important in the L&D profession. Because it is with shared meaning that we do our best work.

I invite you to share your own views on each piece, so feel free to drop me a like and contribute a comment or two…

A vintage poster depicting a group of dogs of different breeds

I hope you find my articulations helpful.

In the meantime, I wish that for you and your family the Christmas season will be a time of healing, rest and renewal.

Scaling up

In Roses are red, I proposed definitions for oft-used yet ambiguous terms such as “competency” and “capability”.

Not only did I suggest a competency be considered a task, but also that its measurement be binary: competent or not yet competent.

As a more general construct, a capability is not so readily measured in a binary fashion. For instance, the question is unlikely to be whether you can analyse data, but the degree to which you can do so. Hence capabilities are preferably measured via a proficiency scale.

Feet on scales

Of course numerous proficiency scales exist. For example:

No doubt each of these scales aligns to the purpose for which it was defined. So I wonder if a scale for the purpose of organisational development might align to the Kirkpatrick Model of Evaluation:

 Level  Label  Evidence 
0 Not Yet Assessed  None
1 Self Rater Self rated
2 Knower Passes an assessment
3 Doer Observed by others
4 Performer Meets relevant KPIs
5 Collaborator Teaches others

Table 1. Tracey Proficiency Scale (CC BY-NC-SA)

I contend that such a scale simplifies the measurement of proficiency for L&D professionals, and is presented in a language that is clear and self-evident for our target audience.

Hence it is ahem scalable across the organisation.