ASTD’s December 2011 T&D Magazine features a discussion on Self-Service Learning (by Patricia A McLagan), and the role of L&D to “help learners make learning more effective, efficient, productive, innovative and fun” (pp 37).
From my experience, for self-service learning to become part of a deliberate learning strategy, we need:
- Staff who have the skills and motivation in learning self-directedness and self-management.
- Staff who know how to use the available resources to search, retrieve, be discerning of the results and problem-solve with it.
- Staff who are confident to communicate digitally with peers whom they may or may not know.
- A culture and climate that rewards learning self-governance and contribution.
- A culture and climate that allows staff to use the web-based technology they are personally familiar with to learn and connect (e.g. YouTube, online forums, Instant messaging etc)
- Technology and environmental infrastructure that supports predictable access to content and networks that enable learning ‘self-service’
- Learning professionals who can guide staff in the skills of information mining and management and networking.
- Learning professionals who can design the kind of focused artifacts that work best in learning self-management.
- Learning professionals who can inform the design of supporting architecture (IT infrastructure and interface design).
It’s a tall order, and it begins with acceptance that we can no longer afford to offer ‘just-in-case’ technical and procedural learning in an ever-changing environment. Just-in-time self-service learning artifacts that are cheap to develop and publish and that are ultimately disposable is the way to go.
We need to train our staff on the skills required in learning self-service. We need to work with the business, especially IT, to understand the requirements to enable self-service learning, and we need to develop the skills of learning professionals.