Microlearning. Agile. Gamification. API. Cafeteria style learning. Content curation. Augmented reality. The list of new talent development design elements goes on and on and continuously grows…and can often feel overwhelming. With each new approach, similar questions start to surface: How can I integrate this? Does everything need to be overhauled? Does this require new skills and resources? How will I get up to speed? How much does this cost?
When exploring whatever the latest approach may be, a comment that a colleague once shared with me often comes to mind: “The arena of instructional design is very similar to fashion design; they are both always changing.” This is so true! There are always trends, the latest thing that’s hot, and, frequently, the pressure to incorporate it instantaneously.
Images by Gigabit and Stitchfix
When taking a deep dive to further analyze this comparison, the similarities continue. However, this gives me comfort. For example, each has timeless pieces that will always be our staples, regardless of what the new season brings. Whether it is the little black dress or instructor led training, a jean jacket or evaluation, we will always have our “go-tos” to fall back on. The secret is to marry the two, like adding a trendy accessory to a plain white tee and jeans or adding a microlearning module post-event activity as Gagne’s ninth event of instruction. Weaving everything together makes things manageable and spares us from purchasing an entirely new wardrobe each year or continuously re-designing each and every piece of curriculum.
This balance also helps us to satisfy one of our primary goals as talent development professionals: providing the best and most impactful experience possible for our learners. If it doesn’t meet their needs, it doesn’t matter how cutting-edge the approach may be, or how much time and money was spent to incorporate something new and different. Again, reflecting on the world of fashion, if you aren’t dressed for the event, regardless of how fashion forward you are, it’s likely you will still feel uncomfortable.
The next time you are intimidated by a daunting list of talent development trends look at it from a different perspective and determine that pieces that you can incorporate rather than feeling overwhelmed. After all, it’s really no different than looking into your closet and determining if there are new garments worth purchasing for the season. Soon you’ll find that this approach makes it all seem much more manageable.
Posted by Shannon Wzientek, CPLP
ATD RMC Vice President of CPLP Study Group