I imagine in whatever publication lists the most used sayings of 2020, ‘flatten the curve’ will be right up there! So hey, why not contribute to its popularity here!
This post is not about flattening the covid-19 curve by doing more virtual learning and development however. While virtual L&D might certainly contribute to flattening the covid-19 curve, it certainly does not seem to be contributing much.
The option seems to be more or less just stopping L&D!
My guess is there are two primary reasons for this:
- With all the turmoil getting organized for virtual working, there is just no time for development. Best to wait until we have more time.
- Virtual development is seen as ineffective and a poor second choice for development. Best to wait until we can do face to face.
Reason 1 makes some sense for a period of time; reason 2 needs to be challenged. In many cases virtual L&D is much more effective than face to face. As long as your design flattens the curve.
To the left is an example of the type of graph that we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. It can teach us quite a bit about why virtual L&D can be better than face to face. The red lines represent the start and end of the actual face to face or virtual encounter.
The pink shape represents face to face. A tiny bit of stuff to support the learning before and and after and a big blast of face to face time typically jammed with content.
The blue shape represents a good virtual design. Quite a bit of time spent in learner preparation, much less time on Zoom (or whatever) than the equivalent face to face design, and quite a bit more time spent on follow up.
The blue horizontal line represents some kind of capacity; for our pandemic situation, usually the capacity of the health care system. In our L&D case let’s say it’s our capacity to actually learn.
With just a bit of reflection, it is quite evident that the blue shape is much more effective for learning. And our current situation helps us quite a bit to make these kinds of designs work! Ask most people if they would like to spend 8 hours on a Zoom meeting and they will run screaming from the room. Ask them if they would like to spend 2 hours on a Zoom meeting one week, another 2 hours a week later and have some interesting stuff to do before and after, that they can self manage with their colleagues, and you’ll get someone interested.
You’ll also get someone that learns way better!
This pandemic is offering us in the development world a unique opportunity. There is far more openness to pre and post work, far more openness to owning the learning and far more openness to accepting different learning designs.
We have a real opportunity here! Let’s not mess it up by designing virtual learning as ‘face to face with our web cams on!’
Also, people need L&D right now, things have changed dramatically, exactly the environment where learning is important, necessary and people are receptive. What’s interesting here is that a ‘flatten the curve’ learning design is nothing new; this type of design has always been the most effective! We just seem to have had a fetish with that red, face to face shape above. So now that we can’t do that anymore lets take this opportunity to prove that ‘flatten the curve’ designs work better. That virtual L&D can be better than face to face!