Curriculum Architecture Design and Formal Learning Vs Informal Learning in Various Learning Contexts

It’s another blend…

Either you see a Curriculum – a set of content – Instruction and Information – as something to be architected or engineered – or you see it as more of an art form/expression.

Either you see it leading to new and enhanced knowledge and skills that were defined beforehand – or you see it more of “going with the flow” of whatever is current – whatever is hip and happening! And whatever is learned is what got learned. And that was what was appropriate.

Either you have a common systematic process for defining and developing/acquiring the curriculum content that “covers all of the bases” – so to speak – or everyone just wings it and does it differently.

Either your process is predictable or it is not. Either you need it to be predictable or you don’t.

Which is right? As always – it depends. It is entirely situational.

Context is the Driver King/Queen

Context drives Content.

3 types of Learning Contexts for a Curriculum Architecture Design

  • Personal – Educational – Enterprise

To over-generalize the above: less rigid/specific required – to – much more rigid and specific potentially required. From left – to – right.

Where a Curriculum Architecture can be either much more “specified/tight” on one end – or “to-be-determined/loose” on the other. From right – to – left.

CAD for an Enterprise Context – should be more formal for all high risk/reward process performers – and that does not include all jobs – some have a higher Risk-Reward impact and should be addressed specifically and fully – and the design of that content should be in such a way so as to be able to share much of it with other Target Audiences (high priority and not).

That means modular – as in many components/offerings.

Here is where using Rapid Development authoring tools of many (endless) types and capabilities and costs – after the analysis and design of a CAD has configured the content – that it really makes sense! For it provides a blueprint to all development/acqusition efforts and staff to help manage the “divide -and-conquer” strategy to build/buy content and ensure that the current gaps are “addressed” and that current/potential overlaps are eliminated/minimized or intentionally placed “redundancy by design” – which is what a CAD effort straightens out and makes hapen – by design.

Otherwise everyone starts developing content per their own mental or otherwise model, and then there are gaps createss and overlaps created that no one really has a handle on.

Chaos. Curriculum Chaos.

Curriculum Chaos Has Its Costs

ROI for Curriculum Chaos can be a very high negative number in an Enterprise context.

One Client in the early 2000 had a large audience of inbound call center sales folks being taught via 7 different sets of curricula for 7 sets of laws/regulations/codes and products and product bundles – driven by the various state regulatory agencies and the feds. Each Curriculum averaged over 80 days plus several had 2-4 weeks of boot camps on-the-floor with a coach to really teach them how to do their jobs.

Later we reduced the average to 40 days – and with 75% overlaps between the 7 Regions. With no boot camps required – only a planned transition into the job – a baton hand-off, if you will, from the local trainers to the new supervisor for the learner/Performer.

That was all about ROI – increasing top line revenue and reducing costs to enhance the bottom line.

A CAD for an Enterprise context is about the specific awareness/ knowledge/ skills needed – Performance-based, to be actually able to “perform” in the workflow, in the processes. The content can be engineered, and then bought/built as rational prioritization by the Clients – who live with the consequences of what is made available and what is not. It is very much a business decision – all about making investments for probable returns.

A CAD in this context is actually easier – less arbitrary – an issue with the less rigid requirements of the other contexts – because in an Enterprise context the performance requirements can be specified – which means the instructional and/or Informational content typically can be made very specific in terms of enabling measurable workflow/process via the business’ goals, metrics, etc. – and really target the key enablers of the human performers in terms of “what did we make available to them and when” and how did that play out in actual work performance?CAD for Education Context – can be both very formal or very informal – and as the terminal objectives for learning are either not fuzzy or very fuzzy – as in: exactly what job will this learner/student be asked to perform after graduation?

If that is crystal clear – as for fairly clear for Chemistry students – and less so for English majors – it’s more about the enabling awareness/ knowledge/ skills needed – without knowing the actual “applications contexts” down the road.

Here a CAD has to be more Competency-based than Performance-based. For we can only roughly generalize the terminal objectives for the educational degree. Which is what a Competency approach is compared to a Performance-approach.

Here learning is not so directed as it is in an Enterprise context.

In an Educational context it often includes let’s explore where practice and research are taking this field/topic/task. Here there is much more need for exploration than in an Enterprise context – unless the shareholders are OK with paying for it – and then it is usually contained – to control costs – which is frustrating to everyone coming out of an educational context where there are less mandated goals – because in an educational context the goals are decided by the Professors and their departments. Not by the work/jobs that the learner/Performer is headed to.

CAD for a Personal Context – can be either very targeted – or less so – to “not even.” Unless you really prefer Web Meandering – and don’t mind your own efficiency being low – then developing a rational. flexible plan for your learning in this Context is a smart approach.

Otherwise it’s pretty much “whatever.” Have fun! I’m not sure that is learning that could be covered in any way by the concepts of a CAD.

It, a CAD, still starts with goals. And in a Personal context that is dependant on the topic/task and the person. Either I am a hobbyist and can target knowledge and skill goals – or just want to be a sponge for a while.

Or I am a volunteer somewhere – to make a difference – and I want to be as competent as I possibly can be – because I am serious about it.

Or it’s for my second job (then see the Enterprise Context). Or it’s a future career/field that I’d like prepare for and eventually “move to.”

Where Am I Coming From?

My background and experiences in CAD and ADDIE-level ISD/ID/SAT efforts began in 1979 after college when I became a Program Developer for Wickes Lumber at headquarters in Saginaw Michigan. Then after 2+ years there I went to Motorola’s Training & Education Center (MTEC) for another 2+ years. Then I joined Ray Svenson and my wife at Ray’s firm in 1982.

Beginning in 1982 when I did my first CAD project and then my most recent (2004) which was #74. I’ve also done more than 50 MCD (ADDIE-level) projects between 1979 and 2008.

I co-authored the first article on CAD using a group process in Training Magazine – September 1984 – and also on the analysis methods used in CAD in NSPI’s P&I Journal in November 1984. The I presented the first national presentation at NSPI in 1985 – I had done it prior at the Chicago chapter the year before.

Details of those CAD projects – target audiences and companies – are provided via 3 graphics and also links to the EPPIC web site – and are at the end of this post.

My focus for the past 29 years is less on development/ deployment/ access tools and technology – and more on the enterprise process performance to be enabled and on the enabling knowledge/skills’ content architecture to most effectively and efficiently achieve that: Peak Performance.

But I get the “development/deployment/access” issues and needs. But I do not focus on the here and now of that. For that buffalo will always be on the move/be ever-changing. And I’m glad many others are focused there – on those enabling tools for performance – that learners need to learn how to use for their performance for an Enterprise context – and on those same tools labeled as learning tools for the Enterprise and Personal contexts.

So I see, from my Enterprise-focus – the Informal-Formal thing as a continuum – from by design to by chance – all driven by an understanding of the Risks and Rewards at stake.

CAD – Curriculum Architecture Design

CAD is an engineering approach to defining the “whole of instruction/information” needed in the first place and then rationalizes (accepts/rejects) existing content for its use in this set-of-content: Curriculum – which is all fairly dependant on being able to describe the “terminal performance” required/desired – and thus the Performance Competences – the ability to perform tasks to produce outputs to stakeholder requirements. Perhaps many tasks and many stakeholders.

The ability of getting crystal clear on those three sets – the tasks, the outputs and the stakeholder requirements – differs in our 3 learning contexts: our Personal context, our Educational context, and our Enterprise context.

To perhaps over-generalize a bit.

As stated above – here are 3 graphics that list my CAD projects from 1982 until 2004. An overview for each project can also be found – starting here.

More information and resources are available at the EPPIC Web site and at other Guy W. Wallace Blogs, Wikis, and SNs created for all PACT Practitioners wishing to master these methods. I encourage you to do so. Please respect my copyright markings – for your use as is or after modification!

Beware Curriculum Chaos Costs.

And be aware of those potential Curriculum Chaos Costs.

What “the costs are” for chaos or control certainly depends on the context. One size does not fit all. Formal Learning is sometimes the absolute best approach – and sometimes Informal Learning (guided or not) is the best approach.

Just remember what research tells us about “learning out of context” and “unguided instruction” – that it works for only about 15%. Due to their motivation and/or prior knowledge. And that Motivation can even trump prior knowledge. But not all learners are so motivated, correct? Or is your situation different?

Yes Informal Learning makes sense some of the time. But it is generally rare.

As a business strategy? And to resource it for all? That makes no sense to me. Not for Learning.

But for Performing? Well, yes. Resource what’s needed for performance per the ROI.

The R for the I.

I strongly believe that we should determine performance requirements and then enable those – ROI insight guiding decisions about – the right people capabilities needed, the right infrastructure needed, and the right balance of consequences that are needed to enable and then encourage performance – by design. Not by chance.

Unless your context is less demanding – as many are.

Then, adopt less and adapt more! Be more flexible than rigorous. Have end-outcome criteria but not process criteria. Or no criteria at all.

Context depending of course.

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2 comments on “Curriculum Architecture Design and Formal Learning Vs Informal Learning in Various Learning Contexts

  1. Pingback: Jigsaw Activity | zein4p27

  2. Pingback: A Popular Strawman – The Evaluation of Training/ Learning/ Knowledge Management « EPPIC – Pursuing Performance

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