What were those lessons learned the last time around this particular turn in the track?

When I started in the Training field in 1979 I was hired in to the Wickes Lumber Saginaw MI HQ Training department – from one of the D-I-Y Lumber Centers (Lawrence KS) – where my new Radio/TV/Film degree would be put to the test in a Slide Film Strip-to-Video conversion…a key media for either the self-paced courses or Coached-OJT courses we made available for store management and staff.

Wickes was making a technology turn.

The Technology turn – versus the Learning Theory turn or the Expectations/Needs turn on our non-oval, evolving, morphing track toward Performance Competence.

With unknown and unnamed twisty turns…reminding me of a ride on the “Tail of the Dragon” – where there are “318 curves in 11 miles” – just along the Tennessee and North Carolina border along the southern edge of the Smoky National Park. Google it.

My point is that my first trip down this, with car and motorcycle club speedsters on my tail…until they could safely but illegally pass me…was very different than the second pass…we immediately turned around at the end…to “do it again” – and we both felt safer…me the driver and my passenger…that the driver wouldn’t send us careening over some cliff…or tear up the side of the car hugging those outside-the-curve of the mountain walls…while worrying about Lane Drift. We were Informally Learning and Formally Learning.

The signs at both ends of this 11 miles of mountainous Grand Prix read: “Lane Drift Kills.” Simply said. Simple enough. A Job Aid on the roadside. Formal Learning, but delayed recognition of it…and then much reinforcement!!!

When you first read them they don’t have an immediate impact. But you might be wondering…what’s that all about?

And then it almost hits you…the other car doing Lane Drift for any number of reasons…going too fast for the curve…skylarking– watching the view instead of the road/the business at hand. And you Learn BIG TIME from that.
Skylarking. A term from Navy boot camp. It was beat out of you back then…before you left boot camp and went to your A school or to the fleet. No time for skylarking in the Navy. At least not for the jobs most sailors were headed to after their orientation and conversion to the Navy Way. You know…there is a right way and a wrong way and the Navy way….

Skylarking was when you weren’t focused on the job performance at hand. That was often dangerous on a naval warship. In the typical Enterprise it often isn’t that dangerous for most jobs…if someone is skylarking. But for other jobs it is dangerous if they skylark for weeks, or days, or hours or moments. As always, it depends.

Even my job in the Navy, as a rated Journalist, at times had need for NO SKYLARKING. Working parties.

And at my “Battle Stations!” assignment…(which was an old term replaced with something more bland that I don’t care to search my mind for at the moment) where I was on the “phone” as the link-in-the-communications system between the BRIDGE and Damage Control and my Damage Control Party to provide directions one way and status updates the other…with ZERO chit-chat…where I also held the device that measured the amount of roentgens…the amount of radiation…that our group was being exposed to…so that on the BRIDGE they could figure out when we would be keeling over…and need to be replaced.

Oh yeah- it was: General Quarters! At General Quarters we were Informally Learning too. In our focus on Performance. From the feedback the military system was quick to provide.

But when running the CCTV system from 6 pm until late at night and being the ship’s DJ for the films and videos from the Armed Forces Radio and TV Services often allowed me to sometimes Skylark…except when it came time to change the reels on the film-camera chain used to turn projected film into video signals back in the mid-1970s.

And when I ran “School of the Ship” safety films every week at the appointed hours, so that the department Chiefs could sit back and really enjoy their coffee and let the technology take over the teaching.

My skylarking could have involved Informal Learning…in fact I am sure that it did. And some Formal Learning as I completed the Training Materials required for a Rank increase and MORE MONEY. Ever been a poor sailor? Then you might just understand the motivating factor of a equitable pay raise system based on defined Knowledge and Performance expectations. But I digress…

Technology Turns
So the technology is turning again. And those of us old folks who have seen these turns before can be somewhat predictive of some of what’s next.

For we seen this turn before…the turns of the media technology…and the initial thrill and fixation on “it” – versus the end-game-goal of the learner/Performer’s Performance Competence

…and then the quick flip to requiring high production values after the initial novelty wears off…

…from the slides in their clumsy carousels that fell apart too often…to the convenience of strip slides with sound tracks!…to use of 16mm film…to the convenient cassette tape format and car players becoming more ubiquitous…to video tapes in all sorts of evolving formats…to video on disc with computer-programs that enabled branching…to online video and branching distributed in wired and wireless ways.

So the initial video clips are talking heads. And the initial Podcasts are simply audio Lectures.

And we just spent so much time figuring out how to get away from lectures and talking heads….

I think it will be temporary.

At least the production quality of “punch and crunch editing” that most have to use to play in these not-so-new media…updates to the RADIO and the TV media…now unplugged and On-the-Road…until the hardware/software prices come down.

And many are reasonable now.

I think the delivery mechanisms will continue to shrink overall, while the screen get bigger and the speakers/ear buds get better. Sized right.

And I’ve joined the fray!

Check out my 20+ Podcasts – here.

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