I have been reading in several places recently that a new concept of learning in the flow of work, or workflow learning, is the latest advance in the learning & development field. It’s not that new though.
- 2004 — What is workflow learning?
- 2010 — Co-design of workflow
- 2012 — Work is learning, and learning is the work
So I dusted off my copy of Electronic Performance Support Systems (1991) by Gloria Gery, which begins with an identification of problems with the training industry.
- Training (and learning) was moved out of the actual job context.
- The experts were removed from the novices.
- Post-training support was reduced to manuals, an occasional job aid, and intermittent supervisory commentary.
Does this sound familiar in any workplace today?
Gery’s performance support frame of reference consists of the following.
- Learning systematically integrated with work; learning and performance support provided at moment of need; includes but not limited to training.
- Learner responsible for performance and required learning to achieve it.
- Job-, task-, or learner-defined objectives, sequences, processes.
- Measured on competence of task performance.
- Includes learning systems, information systems, job aids, career systems, rewards and incentives, organization design, procedures, etc.
It’s been 30 years and we have yet to integrate learning into most work flows. But there is no need to create new terms for something we have known for a generation. We know what to do. It’s just not being done.
“We have the technological means to develop and implement alternatives, but in order to accomplish the results we need, our view must shift from training to learning and then to performance; from documentation to knowledge, and then to its application. The focus must shift from rigidly defined content created by an instructional designer, to truly individualized learning experiences created by the learner.” —Gloria Gery , 1991
Social and informal learning at work — learn more about this online workshop — is critical for optimal organizational performance.