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Learning Trends: Highlights from the Masie 2011 Conference – Pt. 3

“Is Instructional Design Dead?”
There was a great discussion around this question in one of the sessions. I am glad that the conclusion was, “No, it’s very much alive but it needs to change.” Almost everybody agreed that instructional design should target behavioral change and impact performance. However, several people had a strong opinion that any given training should come down to performance support and that “traditional” instructional design is not adequate or even necessary. Should we minimize the role of “traditional” training, whether it is an on-boarding initiative, or when things change drastically, or when there are serious performance gaps in an organization? We still need a well-designed “traditional” training that becomes a foundation for developing new skills and changing behaviors regardless of learning trends.

There were several sessions that demonstrated how organizations can achieve amazing results through integrating experiential learning strategies, engaging stories, and adaptive learning techniques. All these strategies help create memorable learning experiences that stick with users. We all know that the learning process doesn’t stop and that learners’ behaviors can change after completing a 20-minute course or an entire curriculum. It takes time to change behaviors. The learning process continues on the job where employees take their new knowledge and skills to the next level. Employees need continuous coaching, help with troubleshooting techniques, updated resources, and helpful tools. I agree that there are some instances where there is no need for “traditional” training (for example, when there is a small change or when things go wrong on a small scale). In these cases, performance support, or the need for high-quality, well-structured learning resources, should be sufficient.