Just Clive Jive

Clive on Learning

on 26/03/2012
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Clive Shepherd has spent the past 25 years working with computers trying to make learning things

Learning, learners and logistics

For some time now I have settled on a simple three stage approach for gathering the information I need in order to come up with a design for learning. It seems to work at a micro level, say designing a short e-learning module, as well as from a wider perspective, such as scoping out a learning architecture. My terminology for the three elements is (1) learning outcomes, (2) audience characteristics and (3) practical constraints and opportunities – quite a mouthful. I was relieved, then, when my colleague Phil Green was able to provide me with a much catchier set of labels – “learning, learners and logistics”. The three Ls.

I checked this out on Google and could come up with no obvious online reference to this method in short or long form, but I’m sure there’s someone reading this who can pinpoint the source.

Anyway, what follows is a very brief summary of the information that I like to gather under each heading:

How performance needs to change / what the target population needs to do differently from what they do now.
What, if any, learning is required to support this change in performance.
What learners absolutely must know if they are going to be able to perform effectively.
What additional information needs to be provided as on-demand resources.
What is the nature of the tasks learners will be expected to perform? Are these predominantly rule-based (algorithmic) or principle-based (highly variable / requiring judgement)?
What attitudes might need shifting before behaviour can change?
How can new skills be practised and assessed?

What knowledge, skills and attitudes already exist among the target population in relation to the topic in question?
What degree of interest is there in the topic? How motivated will learners be?
How independent are they as learners?
How skilled are they at using technology?
What are their cultural expectations with regard to learning?

How many learners are there? Where are they based? How easy is it for them to travel? How much time do they have available for learning?
What resources are available in terms of subject experts, designers, developers, facilitators, coaches, etc?
What is the budget? How long before the solution must be in place? How long before the job must be completed?
What technology is available to learners in terms of hardware, software and bandwidth? What platforms are already in place to support online learning?
What other tools, equipment and facilities are available?

I find that, in most circumstances, these questions give me all I need to come up with a solution, but I’d be interested to know if you have other questions which unlock valuable information.



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