Is learning and development mostly about science or is it more of a strategic business discipline?
Phillippa Lamb introduces our speakers, Martyn Sloman, Dr. Itiel Dror and Bill Parsons.
Philippa starts by asking Martyn if most L&D is as effective as it might be. He replies that there is plenty of very good practice but also plenty of very bad and indifferent practice. It is very contextual and varies in different sectors.
Itiel says it is far from being as effective as it can and should be. It’s better if we think about the learning process. There are many learning theories but none are right – many are too abstract to translate into practice to achieve better learning.
Research on retaining learning in the brain shows limited capacity to process information, leading to “pop out effects” or bite sized learning that brain can present. Bill partly agrees but says that in organisations most people learn on the job rather than through learning interventions.
Martyn challenges some of this by saying context is crucial – economic drivers determine way people learn but is there enough practical information to help trainers on the job?
Bill then explains the trilogy of psychology, sociology and economics relating to learning, while Martyn talks about L&D being a practitioner art rather than an academic discipline. Itiel says it can be context dependent but is related to content of information.
Bill talks about the 10,000 hour learning principle – training such as peer review and knowledge sharing but very little formal training. He states that measuring outcomes in learning is fundamentally difficult.
The discussion moves onto e-learning. Martyn says it is not effective and we should be customising around individual learning preferences. Itiel says the challenge is that technology is driving the learning. He prefers the term “technology enhanced learning” rather than e-learning, and believes learning would be more effective if driven by cognitive science. Bill comments that e-learning is suitable for procedural learning but difficult to standardise for each learner, while Itiel says technology needs to be adaptive to reflect this.
Martyn queries whether we know enough about individual learning styles, the left brain/right brain argument and differing national cultures in learning. Some parts of cognitive science can be easily learned which then impact on skill and knowledge retention.
Finally, Bill notes we must recognise practical limitations of time and money when designing training programmes.
Related useful information
CIPD’s Learning and Talent Development survey
Next time we discuss innovation and HR. Join us then.