In the continuing series we catch up with LPI Consultant Ken Jones

In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

Relevance. Unfortunately, the perception of a high percentage of workers is that L&D simply roll out the same old learning, whether compliance or technical, to ensure the regulatory requirements of the company are met. It doesn’t matter what methodology is used, only a few learning programmes are seen as beneficial to the individual worker, whilst at the same time meeting the manager’s and leader’s expectations. I appreciate this is not a true reflection of what L&D are actually trying to do, often with their hands tied, but perceptions can be very divisive.

So, making programmes relevant to a worker’s development, and to the company’s compliance whilst also meeting the business objectives is definitely a big challenge. L&D has to step up to the mark and concentrate on understanding all the stakeholders and the value chain in order to become more effective and relevant.

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

My first choice is to follow a number of organisations, such as The Learning Guild, eLearning Industry and of course LPI. What is a really important aid to me are summarised digests, which allow me to quickly trawl all articles, identifying the ones to explore further when they are aligned with my current thinking or satisfy the requirements of my customers.

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

There are a number of things that I believe will help to change the use of digital learning in a positive way. Putting aside things like smart clothing and AI, the key challenge, as I see it, will be to use technology and techniques in an innovative way. To do this we probably need more leaders/managers to embrace innovation and go where the wagon tracks haven’t been before.

I believe that by integrating the marriage of augmented reality with microlearning, into existing work systems, will give the potential for more effective performance, changes in behaviours and higher productivity benefiting worker and company alike.

An example of this thinking would be to add microlearning to the work process, before workers carry out a task. If for example the project included, a confined space entry, then we should ensure the team does a 2 to 10 minute recap before they start, every time, not just a refresher course every 3 years. The repetition would reinforce the message and embed the knowledge.

What “game changers” would you like to see and why?

What I would really like to see is movement away from developing courses that simply push information at the learners, it’s like asking learners to study sections of the Encyclopaedia Britannica or an operating procedures manual, then testing them with a few short questions, this approach only focuses on building short term memory recall. To have more impact on the learner we need to adopt a more natural method of learning, by asking questions first! Questioning provokes critical thinking and is an important part of our daily learning: What’s this for…?; Why does it work…?; How do you fix it…?; etc.

By developing Question-led courses the learning process is automatically personalised, when the learner answers the questions correctly they automatically move on to the next topic, if incorrect, they are supplied with the learning material and inevitably asked the questions again. We have seen how this works well for language Apps.

Combine this with the use of spaced repetition, where learners are questioned more than once, at predefined intervals, on each topic truly enhances the learner retention. Adding spaced repetition to the questioning process serves as a reminder and reinforces the synaptic bridges of knowledge in long term memory.

Ebbinghaus forgetting curve is often quoted, but we seldom do anything to combat the forgetting over time when developing courses, whether online or in the classroom. The adoption of question-led courses and spaced retention is a game changer, so we need to get onboard, break the traditional course building mould.

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2030?

There is a belief that AI is a technology that will automate a lot of mundane, menial or repetitive processes. Or will it simply eliminate human error and consequently enhance production and performance.

In reality, I think AI is set to transform the world as we know it, physically and mentally. The revolution is here right now and therefore will be adopted as a way of life by the children born in 2018, they will have known no different. AI and technology will change what we need to learn, when we must learn and determine which subjects we learn today will be completely obsolete in 2030.

The 2018 children probably won’t even have to learn to drive or how to translate languages, it will all be automated. So, goodness knows how many other things we won’t have to teach or remember, even our clothes could be smarter than us! What is obvious though, is that any learning will have to be immediate and very brief, given how short the attention span of youth today is already! L&D has to embrace technology and develop new models to cater for this revolution.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Believe in your ideas, follow your dreams and learn what you need to succeed. Most importantly continue to question everything, it is the fastest way to learn.

About Ken Jones:

A digital learning professional based in Scotland, who has made a career of adopting and adapting technology to help meet the training and business goals of learning and development for a broad range of industrial corporations.

Ken’s experience has spanned the complete spectrum of digital learning technologies from the early days of Video discs and CBT through to the present-day use of cloud-based technology to deliver integrated learning strategies, including latest thinking in adaptive, micro, social and blended learning. He has worked with many of the major Oil & Gas Operators and Service companies, developing e-learning courses on a wide range of topics and designed several software authoring tools and competency-based platforms. Throughout his career, he has advised corporations on how to best utilise learning technology to meet their compliance, competency and technical learning needs.

Creating strategies, proposals or simply converting classroom courses for online delivery or to fit a blended programme, learning technology is Ken’s passion and the learner is always central to his thinking.

Connect with Ken on LinkedIn