Learning is a process not an event. Learning is a destination not a journey.
We’ve heard all this for years, and yet the facts remain the same – the way that we help people learn revolves around events in the form of (a defined package of content) aka courses, where the focus still is firmly on the destination - the completion of the course - as a measure of success.
But in the age of Facebook and Twitter, and now Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) like Yammer and Jive - where at the heart lies an activity stream that is used for a continuous stream of knowledge exchange, there is a place for a new learning framework - one that lies between the formal, instructionally designed course and the unstructured knowledge sharing of teams, groups and communities. We call this a Learning Flow.
A Learning Flow is a continuous steady stream of social micro-learning activities - accessible from the web and mobile devices
Let's look at each of the elements of that sentence, that describe a Learning Flow
- continuous – ongoing (ie no end date)
- steady - daily (or probably more likely, weekdaily)
- micro-learning – short – ie taking no longer than 15-20 minutes to undertake
- activities – that involve reading (watching or listening to) something and doing something
- social – that invite and encourage active participation and contribution
- stream - that are organised and structured in the Flow in weekly themes
- accessible from web and mobile devices – to ensure that learning can take place anywhere and at anytime
For individual users being present in a Learning Flow means
- having some help to navigate the turbulent waters of a fast flowing stream of (new) knowledge
- retaining control over how and when they get involved, and how they fit it into their daily workload - autonomy is a key element of participation.
Learning Flows are suitable for:
- Enterprise use - to provide ongoing updating of teams or groups
- Educational use - to provide an extra dimension to academic subjects - probably alongside a formal curriculum
- Professional use - for generic topics of interest in areas like Marketing, Leadership, L&D, etc, where it is vital to keep up with new knowledge and practices.
If you're interested in experiencing a Learning Flow, we've already got a couple of Learning Flows underway for L&D professionals - with more to come:
If you're interested in offering Learning Flows in your own organisation, the beauty is that they require no special learning platforms to set up and deliver. You can use any platform where there is an activity stream, e.g. a platform like Twitter or FB or an ESN like Yammer or Jive. If you want to find out more, we offer a Learning Flow on Setting up and leading a Learning Flow where we have weekly themes on Learning Flow scaffolding and preparation, micro-learning activity design, managing and evaluating a Flow.
However, in a couple of further blog posts on this topic I will take a look at the anatomy of a Learning Flow, as well as consider the User Experience and the role of Learning Professionals in their design and delivery.