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This presentation, delivered at the American Library Association 2014 Annual Conference (in Las Vegas) under the auspices of the ALA Learning Round Table, explores ways to assure that learners apply what they learn after leaving a training/learning session.

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  • Blame our great American Library Association Learning Round Table colleague Maurice Coleman for unintentionally inspiring this title slide. His original idea for this session began with the questions “So you have a learning session that blew their doors off? What do you do as a learning leader to provide ongoing support to your staff and customers after the training? What can directors and managers do to support the learning process after the training? How do you effectively evaluate your training to see if it has become a part of your organizational culture?”
    And when he was crazy enough to agree hand this one over to me for the Learning Round Table, my first reaction was to see what I could do to blow your doors off with what I hope will be an example of how to support the learning process after training—by planning that support before your first learner arrives onsite or online for the learning opportunity you are designing.
  • So let’s start by laying the foundations for effective and engaging learning sessions. You have three minutes to reset this room in any way that you believe will support your own learning during the hour we have together…
  • [after three minutes]
    If you were with us at the Learning Round Table “Ignite Interact Engage” session a couple of years ago (at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference), you know how this turned out:
    Participants, doing this same exercise (inspired, by the way, by Peter Block, a fabulous writer-trainer-consultant who did this at a conference I attended in 2008), went far beyond anything I had anticipated when they not only rearranged the tables and chairs, but actually went out into a hallway to retrieve a sofa for our session. It left us with a newly-created slogan—”Addressing the couch in the middle of the room”—and captured all that I believe is essential in our quest to answer the question “Now what?”:
    Learning has to be playful.
    Learning has to be memorable.
    Learning has to have the learner at the center of the process.
    Learning has to meet the needs of the learner as well as the needs of the organization and those it ultimately serves.
    And learning has to build off of what we already know.
    So, if you were here a couple of years ago—or can pretend you were by keeping this couch in the middle of the room in mind--you know what comes next.
  • This wonderful image from Denise Krebs’ Flickr account reminds us that what we are facilitating in our overlapping roles as trainer-teacher-learners involves a variety of elements. Please take a moment to take in those elements…
    [Image at]
  • And as we continue our exploration of what to do after your learners have had their doors blown off, let’s see what you’re already doing that is working for you—and, more importantly, for the learners you serve:
    Please take four minutes to share, with people in the area where you’re sitting, one thing that helped you apply what you learned after you left a memorable onsite or online learning opportunity. We will reconvene at the end of this brief discussion so you can share ideas that you can use when you return home.
  • Peter Senge’s wonderful exploration of what it takes to create a learning organization provides another model that serves us well as we consider the dynamics of communities of learning. Before taking us to the heart of the community of learning idea, he suggests that learning organizations have people with several key skills:
    They engage in systems thinking.
    They engage in “personal mastery” to “consistently realize the results that matter most deeply to them.
    They have strong mental models of their world and hold them up to rigorous scrutiny.
    They work to build a shared vision.
    They engage in team learning.
    So let’s think about how that applies to what we’re addressing and see how the concepts of learning organizations and communities of learning can help us keep blowing learners’ doors off long after they leave the formal (or informal) sessions we design and facilitate.
  • Wikipedia offers a great one-line starting point, as you can see on this slide…
    And this, I think, is one of the key points to keep in mind:
    If we create, nurture, and work to sustain communities of learning within our organizations, we are creating one of the most important building blocks needed to make sure that what we offer lasts far longer than the time we spend in our formal and informal onsite and online learning opportunities. Those communities of learning provide support for learners who are in the process of trying to make sense of and apply what originally blew their doors off.
  • Think, for a moment, about your own experiences as a learner in staff training settings.
    What sort of formal or informal communities of learning are you part of, or have you seen in action? Please jot down a couple of communities that come to mind, and then let’s see where that leads us.
  • Are you more likely to return to work with the feeling that there’s a tight cap on what you can apply?
    If that generally describes your situation, please raise your hand.
  • A second poll, looking at the same situation six months after you have participated on a workshop, webinar, or some other learning opportunity:
    Are you still using what you learned, or
  • Have you gone back to doing what you did before you attended that session?
  • Let’s be frank:
    As I’ve pointed out many times when working with other trainer-teacher-learners, an interesting research project on workplace learning (AKA “staff training”) confirms that this is pretty much where a lot of our effort goes. Generally, in the best of situations, we are excited by what we learn, and some of us are actually willing to try to use what we’ve learned. But, ultimately, only about 15 percent of those going through a formal learning experience in that research project could “give an example of an on-the-job action they had taken as a result of what they had learned”—which means about 85 percent of the effort was wasted.
  • The research, done by Calhoun Wick, Roy Pollock, Andrew Jefferson, and Richard Flanagan for the first edition of their book The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results, suggests that there is a way to reverse this situation, and the idea of communities of learning is the unspoken part of that formula.
    Wick, Pollock, Jefferson, and Flanagan suggest that if we see learning as a process rather than solely as a one-time event, we change the entire dynamic. In staff training, for example, when learners and managers meet to discuss what should come out of a training session before the learners attend the session, the key parties move forward together. The day of the learning event, therefore, is one way to begin achieving the learning goals and objectives discussed during that earlier meeting.
    And the rubber really hits the road after the day of the learning event: learners return to their workplaces knowing that they are expected to apply what they learned, and they will be supported in their efforts. Are any of us really surprised that the weekly follow-up efforts proposed through The Six Disciplines reverse the earlier situation and that most learners continue to use what they learned long after the formal session ended?
    When we create learning opportunities where prospective learners themselves actively help shape the learning experience—as you and I are doing today—magic happens.
    It comes down to effective planning, delivery, and follow-up—which means that we really do need to think about “What next?” before learners even begin signing up for the sessions we are designing. And then we need to be sure there is support back in our workplaces for what we are encouraging them to learn and apply.
  • I would suggest that what we’re seeing through that Six Disciplines model is a winning combination of a few elements:
    Trainers and teachers who see themselves as facilitators of learning more than as the central element of the learning process
    Learners who are motivated and engaged enough to be active participants in the learning process
    A community that is formed from a partnership between the learning facilitators and learners in ways that ultimately not only benefit the learners and the organizations they serve, but that also benefit the people served by those organizations—in our case, the people using our libraries onsite as well as online.
  • MOOCs—massive open online courses—are still a relatively young innovation in online learning, but not too young to be giving us food for thought.
  • My personal favorites are the connectivist MOOCs—those that literally help connect learners to each other regardless of geography and differences in time zones. The one you see to the right—#ETMOOC, the Educational Technology and Media MOOC that engaged around 1,500 of us from several continents—was wonderfully dynamic, and what is ultimately suggests is that if learners connect, the “What now?” question takes care of itself since learners will continue to interact and learn from each other long after the formal coursework ends.
    For much more on MOOCs:
    My own Building Creative Bridges blog:
  • As for connective MOOCs and connected learning: We can take this one step further by noting that the Digital Media Lab free online report on Connected Learning goes a long way in eliminating the need for the question, “What now?”
  • If you’ve been following ed-tech news at all over the last few years, you’ve seen a two-part conversation: the long-standing idea that lecturing is a lousy learning tool—most of us just aren’t wired neurologically to absorb that much information in such a concentrated format—and the idea that placing learners at the center of the process by using class time for interactions and applications while leaving the lecture format to videos that are viewed before the learners arrive in our onsite and online spaces offers intriguing possibilities—literally flipping the old model of when our learners apply when they learn.
    Much of the focus is on formal academic settings at this point, but I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t be doing more blended work (preparatory work online and hands-on application our onsite or synchronous online learning spaces).
  • And while we’re on the topic of learning spaces, let’s acknowledge an interesting challenge. As in so much I see today, there seems to be a major disconnect between our jargon and our roles and responsibilities. We now have a variety of learning spaces that include classrooms, information commons, makerspaces, idea spaces, innovation centers, and social learning centers. What they share in common is that they represent different—but not necessarily conflicting—visions of how we learn and how our spaces support our learning.
    In a makerspace or an innovation center, for example, we as often as not are learning along with our learners rather than feeling as if we have to have mastered the subject being explored. And the approach we take affects whether we can creatively and effectively answer the “What now?” question that brought us together for this session.
    We’re in a great position in libraries to foster this process: we provide the space and, sometimes, the facilitation, and engaged members of those developing communities will consistently surprise us with the results they produce and the actions they inspire.
  • Attending the New Media Consortium 2014 Summer [ed-tech] conference in Portland, Oregon last, I was lucky enough to attend an “Idea Spaces” session led by Tom Haymes from Houston Community College Northwest. He has an entire website that is seamlessly interwoven with the presentation he did, and you can easily find it by doing a Google search for “Idea Spaces” and “Tom Haymes.”
    One important thing to note here is that by creating a website for learning sessions you believe are important—and why are we putting time into learning sessions if we don’t think they are important?—we stack the deck in favor of making sure that those “blow their doors off” moments are well-supported long after we and our learners go our separate ways.
    Worried about the time it takes to build a website? Do what Tom does: use a simple user-friendly tool like Wordpress so that you’re turning a blogging tool you may already know into a dynamic learning site that will continue to blow those doors off!
  • And one more thing from Tom’s presentation: a visualization of 10 years of learning-space/idea-space evolution on his campus.
    A point Tom makes—and one you’re seeing today if I’m doing my job the right way—is that in idea spaces, there is no front of the room. Learners interact in ways that work for them, and all of us involved in the learning process are the winners—in our learning spaces and beyond.
  • So, as we start winding down, let’s not forget the wonderful communities of learning that already surround us: the state libraries, the regional networks like NEKLS (the Northeast Kansas Library System) and SEFLN (the Southeast Florida Library Network), or national groups like the American Library Association’s Learning Round Table, or the professional association for workplace learning and performance—The Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD), and the New Media Consortium, a fabulous ed-tech organization that is preparing its first ed-tech Horizon Report for libraries in summer 2014. These are communities that welcome us with open arms, and all we have to do is take the time to participate. And learn. And grow.
  • Let’s move into a final discussion before ending with a brief summary of what we’ve discussed, then take a few minutes for any remaining questions you have…
  • A second question…
  • We started by talking about—and experiencing—the importance of making our efforts learner-centric to encourage the development of long-term communities of learning that support the learning process.
  • We then saw Peter Senge’s book as a great resource for developing and supporting learning by striving to create learning organizations.
  • The Six Disciplines gave us a great framework for seeing learning as a process rather than an event, and reminded us that manager-learner interactions throughout the process produce magnificent results.
  • We saw connectivist MOOCs—and, by extension, connected learning—and another way to be sure that the learning doesn’t stop when our learners return to their worksites.
  • The flipped classroom model got us thinking about how we use our face-to-face or online synchronous time with our learners.
  • And Tom Haymes’ idea spaces presentation reminded us that if we create learning spaces where there is no front of the room, happens in terms of how our learner claim responsibility for their own learning and mean we will far less frequently asking “What now?”
  • Our ending point is where we began: with communities of learning, such as ALA’s Learning Round Table. We hope you’ll join the community and find it to be one of your great resources for dealing with the training-teaching-learning challenges you and our other colleagues face.
  • Lets’ start with one you may have heard me mention once or twice today…
  • A few other resources worth remembering…
  • That_Was_Great--Now_What

    1. 1. Facilitated by Paul Signorelli Writer/Trainer/Consultant Paul Signorelli & Associates Twitter: @paulsignorelli ALA Learning Round Table Session At ALA Annual Conference Las Vegas June 29, 2014 Session hashtags: #alaac14 #NowWhat That Was Great! Now What? (Supporting the Learning Process AfterTraining)
    2. 2. Setting the Learning Space
    3. 3. Setting the Learning Space
    4. 4. Building Upon What We Already Know
    5. 5. Building Upon What We Already Know Share, with those sitting nearyou, one thing that helped you apply what you learned afteryou left a memorable
    6. 6. PeterSenge: Learning Organizations
    7. 7. Communities of Learning: A Definition “A learningcommunity is agroupof peoplewho share common emotions, values orbeliefs, areactivelyengagedin learningtogetherfromeachother…” --Wikipedia
    8. 8. YourLearning Communities?
    9. 9. When I Leave a Learning Session…
    10. 10. Six Months Later…
    11. 11. Six Months Later…
    12. 12. Where Much of OurLearning Goes…
    13. 13. Breakthrough Learning
    14. 14. What MOOCs Can Teach Us
    15. 15. What MOOCs Can Teach Us
    16. 16. What MOOCs Can Teach Us ult/files/ConnectedLearning _report.pdf
    17. 17. Communities of Learning: Flipped Classrooms
    18. 18. Communities of Learning: Makerspaces
    19. 19. Communities of Learning: Idea Spaces
    20. 20. Communities of Learning: Idea Spaces
    21. 21. LargerLearning Communities: Joining What’s Available to Us
    22. 22. Discussion: Working It What is one thing you can take fromthis session and begin applying in yourown workplace within the next week?
    23. 23. Discussion: Working It What is one thing you can take fromthis session and begin applying in yourown workplace within the next week? What would yourfirst steps be in implementing that idea?
    24. 24. In Summary
    25. 25. In Summary
    26. 26. In Summary
    27. 27. In Summary
    28. 28. In Summary
    29. 29. In Summary
    30. 30. In Summary
    31. 31. Resources
    32. 32. Resources Formore on innovations in training-teaching-learning, please visit my blog:
    33. 33. Questions & Comments
    34. 34. ForMore Information Paul Signorelli & Associates 1032 Irving St., #514 San Francisco, CA 94122 415.681.5224 Twitter: @paulsignorelli
    35. 35. Credits & Acknowledgments (Images taken from unless otherwise noted): Door Hanging From Hinges: From NickCummin’s photostream at Couch in the Middle of the Room: Photo by Paul Signorelli Building Blocks: From Denise Krebs’ photostreamat Learning Commons, Alden Library, Ohio University: From Ohio University Library’s photostreamat Capped Fire Hydrant: From Modowds’s photostream at Learners Helping Each Other From Ohio University Library’s photostream at Book Discussion Group: From Lucius Beebe Memorial Library’s photostream at Community Group in Library: From 1 Book, 1 Valley’s photostream at Library Makerspace: From WLibrary‘s photostream at Flipped Classroom: From Ransomtech’s photostream at Idea Spaces: Images from Tom Haymes‘ Idea Spaces website at