Let me start off with a full confession. I was the guy earlier in my career who was championing instructor-led classroom training. Yes, classroom training will always play a role in learning, but I was advocating to the world that this was the only way for adults to successfully learn. So imagine the abuse I’m going to endure from my peers as they read this blog! As I grow wiser, older and more willing to listen and learn from others, I have quickly realized that offering a collection of learning assets that appeal to all learning styles is the best approach to developing employees, partners and customers.
So time for my second confession (this is beginning to feel like therapy). At one point in my life, I had a strong hatred for YouTube and did everything within my power to prevent my children from accessing the site. If there was not such a thing as parental controls, I would have dug up the fiber in my yard running to the house.
This past summer, the family vacation was at the lake in Virginia. The lake was an excellent location for fishing, hiking, boating, swimming and of course water sports. My son, who is middle school age, decided he wanted to learn how to wake board. No problem, off we went to the local Outfitter store to rent the board. We found a lovely beginners board for my son but also could be used for adults – very cool since I had aspirations to ride the wake as well. The challenge we were faced with was the 22 year old wake boarder who was assigned to teaching us how to stand-up on the board. Now I have surfed most of my life and know most of the surf lingo but for the life of me could not recognize what language he was speaking. As we left the store and I could see the uneasy, nervous look on my son’s face. When I was his age all we had was water skiing, so I was not much help other than to advise him to keep the nose of the board above water. I am smart enough to know that would be an epic fail for skis and wake boards – so don’t do it.
My son is at the age where he doesn’t always listen to me… and in this case, smart move on his part. He picked up my iPad, went to YouTube (no parental control) and found a short video on how to stand up on a wake board. It turns out; you don’t keep the nose of the board above wate
r. You need to keep horizontal until it begins to plain on the water and then roll forward to stand up. Go figure!
Did I mention earlier I surfed and water skied so had no knowledge on this this topic?
The end result, my son was up and ripping the water after a couple of attempts. Mostly because the video provided him the chunk of knowledge he needed to be successful. A great example of just in time learning, and easily measured by seeing the knowledge transfer and clear application of what was learned. Just for the record and not to be out done by our kid, my wife and I also successfully mastered the board.
So now I get it. There are different ways to learn, and one size does not fit all. Learning is personal and customized to each individual. Corporate learning programs need to provide a robust library of learning assets to compliment everyone’s unique learning style, including videos. I shared this story at work a few weeks back and was amazed with the stories from others on how they learned to do something through video. Believe it or not, if you search my name, you may even find me on YouTube. Wow, how I have evolved!
The best approach for working with videos is to use existing resources such as YouTube or develop your own library. A common mistake you see often with rookie development of videos is the length. If it rivals the length of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then you went way too long. Think about chunking down the knowledge so it is easily digested by the learner – three to five minutes is the sweet spot. It may seem very short but yet highly effective.
So to all the non-believers of the learning world, specifically the CLO’s and Senior Learning Leaders, I challenge you to find something you wish to learn for the first time and use anything other than the classroom to do so. Why not start with a video and see what happens? Then go back to the organization you support and take a hard look how you are developing your employees. Stop checking the box to see how many people take a class and start offering something more aligned with how your employees learn.
It’s time to remove the parental controls and help our employees grow.