Learning Is Just Like Dancing

Dancing Context Dimensions

There is Group Dancing – Pair Dancing – and Solo Dancing. These are part of one Context Dimension (number of dancers?)

Those are just some of the Dancing Contexts.

Dancing Is Just Like Learning – it has different Contexts.

Especially in the Context of Enterprise Learning – another Dimension of Learning Contexts, which also includes Educational Learning (Engineering degree) and Personal Learning (learning to Fly Fish – and Fry Fish).

For many things – Informal Learning is just fine.

As a matter of fact – most situations start out as all Informal Learning – until someone decides to expend the resources to make it otherwise – something up-the-chain of Formality – as Formally Learning exists on a continuum of very Formal to less Forma – to almost Informal….

And for most performance in an Enterprise Learning Context – Informal means to learn what to do and how to do it – are perfectly fine.

But at other times they are not. Targeting those that need more – is a key.

Sometimes the Performance is just too critical and/or too tricky to leave it to Informal Learning means.

Because that’s still Learning By Chance – versus Learning By Design. And if the R in ROI – the Risks and Rewards are too great to leave to chance – then it should be addressed by design.

Deployment Modes

This is my almost 30 year old framework for Training/Learning Deployment Modes – slightly updated:

  1. Un-Structured OJT – unnamed
  2. Un-Structured OJT – named
  3. Reading Assignments
  4. Video Assignments
  5. Structured OJT – coached by any coach
  6. Structured OJT – coached by a certified coach
  7. Structured OJT – coached by a designated coach
  8. Classroom Instruction
  9. Classroom/Lab (meaning that more than a typical hotel conference room is needed: bunsen burners or video equipment/monitors, etc.)
  10. Computer-based Instruction (low end)
  11. Computer-based Simulations (high end)

I would categorize – in CAD – Curriculum Architecture Design efforts – what the existing Content assessed for reuse was – and how the gaps in a T&D/Learning Path/Blueprint/ Roadmap/Continuum.

We would also have pre-clarified with the Project Steering Team (and the T&D folks) what exited already and what was or were the new and feasible ways to deploy (if any) – to define the total set of deployment mechanisms for content post-CAD.

That was just one dimension of Client Collaboration – letting them decide how to deploy/access all of THEIR REQUIRED content – for their performance context. What worked best for one audience – might not be good at all – for another. Enter: version control of media/mode.

Technology has changed a great deal since the early 1980s – and now Reading Assignments might be someone’s Blog, or an article buried in the online archives of a professional affinity group (free or for a fee). Videos are no longer via VHS or Beta tape – and no longer on a Disc – but are online as well. Video is video (other than the shaky camera movements to add tension and/or signify reality versus staged – but I digress).

Back to Informal and Formal

Not that dance moves as well as Enterprise Tasks aren’t learned Informally and extended/expanded upon as well – after Formally Learning some thing – some Performance really lends itself to that – more practice (informally) after the formal lessons.

Especially true when one goal is innovations in dance performance – and at work performance. The new moves. Getting creative. But staying real (as appropriate).

Formal Learning never totally replaces Informal Learning – not completely anyway. I don’t think that those who think about it – ever expected to do that – replace Informal totally.

As always it depends.

It depends on the Context.

Context is King

Context is Everything. But there are many dimensions to Context.

Risks and Rewards – the consequences for knowing and knowing/ability to Perform – are but one of those Contextual Dimensions to be considered. And those are an important one.

Perhaps just Reading about it isn’t sufficient – let alone unnamed Un-Structured-OJT. Perhaps Reading about it would be just fine. Perhaps unnamed Un-Structured-OJT would be just fine as well.

What T&D/Learning functions can do in an Enterprise Learning Context – is work with their clients and stakeholders to see how to better enable both Formal and Informal means with facilities and technology/tools.

Decisions Decisions

But those decisions to invest in those technology and facility enablers are actually Business Decisions – not Instruction Design or Learning Decisions. We can have inputs and can help clients and stakeholders decide – but it is their decision. What makes sense to us – might not make any sense at all to those who understand the future goals, measures, strategies and tactical plans. Who would heavily invest in technology for a part of the business to be sold off or displaced by radically new technology?

At some point before “it was all over” leaders quit investing in Beta Tape capability; then VHS; then Discs/DVDs.

At some point the dance studio decides to put up or take down the dance barr.

Context is EVERYTHING in Learning.

And in Dance too.

Dance, dance, dance the night away.

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