‘What content is best delivered Informally?’ ‘Do I still need an LMS?’
These two interesting questions emerged during our recent eDay on supporting Informal learning where our guest speaker, Paul Mathews separated workplace knowledge into two broad categories:
Workers need to absorb information and ‘learn it’ so that it is available via memory recall in the future without recourse to the original content.
Workers can access information that will help them to solve a problem ‘now’, so they can complete a task assigned to them.
If you think about your own learning delivery, induction and compliance training are natural candidates for ‘Know it’ or formal learning, whereas product knowledge and process guides are more useful as informal ‘Find it’ learning.
This fundamental difference in function has been described as ‘just-in-case’ verses ‘just-in-time’.
Paul argues that because these functions are very different, they require differently designed systems to manage them. He uses a car and a truck as an analogy; while both share certain characteristics they have been designed to do very different jobs.
An LMS has been designed to manage ‘Know it’ courses, whereas a Knowledge Bank has been specifically designed to make ‘Find it’ content accessible.
Of course it is sometimes possible to use a ‘Know it’ product for ‘Find it’ purposes and vice versa. Just as you could use a car to move cargo, and you could use a truck to commute.
But neither circumstance is ideal.
A ‘Know it’ system will usually perform poorly as a reference resource. For example, you cannot easily flit from place to place within the often rigidly sequenced content to follow your own path of enquiry. And you can’t search or skim through multimedia content for specific information, especially if you have never seen it before. So trying to find specific information within an LMS is likely to be both time consuming and frustrating.
On the other hand…
A ‘Find it’ system like a Knowledge Bank is designed to quickly access specific information to solve a problem whenever and wherever required.
Interestingly, a Knowledge Bank can also score well on learning because when its content is accessed, the information gained is usually put into practice immediately. This practical application of new information leads to it being retained for next time, even though learning was not the original goal.
It’s an accepted learning theory that adults learn best when there is some urgency and that they are motivated to learn through their own need rather than an imposed need.
The learning derived from a Find it system is a wonderful secondary benefit beyond the initial outcome of finding information to solve a current problem. However, that learning will be ‘informal’ and thus uncontrolled as to what is learnt and when, so it probably won’t satisfy in areas where learning is mandatory and a high level of record keeping is required.
If you bought a car to do a truck’s job, you would probably fail to do your task.
The same logic applies with KIFI. If you buy the wrong system to do a job, you will probably fail to get the job done.
You need to decide, given your outcomes, which type of system will be most appropriate; Know it or Find it. And note that this is not necessarily an either/or decision. You may end up deciding that you need both types of system to fulfil your requirement. After all, there is nothing wrong with having both a car and a truck.
To find out more please contact us to discuss your learning requirements in more detail.