The Power of Invitation in Learning

This article excerpt is from Elliott Masie, The MASIE Center

Our field is significantly focused on learning design, learning delivery and learning assessment. I want to take a few paragraphs to make a strong case for an often neglected process:

Learning Invitation

We can build the best learning in the world, host it on the fastest servers and track it with the best metrics package, but we still need to invite the learner to learn.

When I consider some of my post powerful learning and development experiences as a learner, many of them started with a strong and personal invitation to learn. My manager would call me into her office and strongly suggest that I attend a class. A colleague would tell me about a great on-line program and invite me to try it out. Or, I would have an assignment and be advised that a piece of content would really help me get the job done.

Learners respond well to invitation. Fifteen years ago, I was part of a study that showed that one of the strongest influences on learner success and TRANSFER of knowledge to the workplace could be found when a worker’s manager sat down and invited them to take a learning activity and framed it for them in terms of their current or future work assignments. The manager inviting the worker to learn was even more influential than the skill of the trainer or the effectiveness of the instructional design.

As we have moved to the world of e-Learning, I feel that we are depreciating the importance of Learning Invitation. In so many cases, the learning department has swapped out an email blast for a personal conversation. Or even worse, assumes that the learner will regularly come to the learning “Portal” page and spend hours browsing for the right class. Wrong!

In fact, as we shift towards more self-service on the transaction and delivery side, it is even more important for the organization to invest in Personalized Learning Invitation. The cost savings will be found on the delivery side. But we don’t save any costs when the learners fail to come.

We can fool ourselves to think that we are just in the content creation and distribution business. In these days of information ABUNDANCE, learners are rightfully protective of their time and energy. We have an opportunity to become much more personal in our Learning Invitations. We can leverage peer and social networks as well as old fashioned conversations. Our recent book on Memorable Teachers showed that one of the characteristics of our most powerful teachers was their ability to personally and repeatably invite us to learn.

Yours in learning, Elliot Masie

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