Workplace Learning Factors & Considerations

DRAFT Workplace Learning Factors 071016v4I have a task request in my professional work (I work in Training and Knowledge Management), and have been wracking my mind as to how to approach this, that I am at the point I need to get some feedback. Would love some thoughts on this if anybody is so inclined.

There was a request to provide an overview of learning options we can select related to a potential need to develop a learning community. Rather straight-forward, though each time I looked at the breadth of options for this, other options and considerations arose. For example, the notion of build it and they will come is only a nice notion, though those of us who work in workplace learning know it is not quite that simple. In fact, there are so many considerations related to this that thinking about the end result (threaded discussion like a Discourse install, an open, collaborative, knowledge-building learning and sharing experience like CLMOOC, or even through the structured Canvas elements for something like the #HumanMOOC) is premature without considering. Why even daydream about a large system if there is little budget, or consider a mooc if there is not staffing to support it?

Thus, my dilemma. How can I speak about options without first raising the considerations (some needing answers first) that go into the factors leading to the eventual selection? Yes, this is certainly related to a stakeholder analysis and environmental scan, though I oddly could not find much already in place I could reuse. Granted, I can find lists of training modalities, individual learning perspectives in the workplace, learning ecosystems, workplace employee learning needs, and adult learning examples using social media, though nothing that really started the initial discussions around what needs to be considered before we talk about concrete options.

That is what my Workplace Learning: Factors & Considerations Before Selecting a Learning Strategy visualization is trying to capture. While it is something that needs to be developed further (this is a draft) AND is not meant to stand alone (no point in writing verbiage until the visualization is complete), I am very eager to get feedback on it, especially as this will eventually be intended for a non-education professional audience who wants to know the options for a learning community / initiative, though need help thinking through it first. Does the: Who, What, Why, When, Where, How, How much, and To what degree, in addition to general Contextual factors, work as a way of framing this discussion?

Any thoughts are most appreciated.


  • 💬 Workplace (Professional) Learning: Factors & Considerations (Decision Support Tool) – Silence and Voice
  • 💬 Bonnie Stewart
  • 💬 Chryssa Themelis
  • 💬 Betsy Weber
  • 💬 Aras Bozkurt
  • 💬 Christina Ciliberto
  • 💬 Michael Storrings

34 thoughts on “Workplace Learning Factors & Considerations

  1. Jeffrey Keefer, nice work in progress! Under “learner”,” what about attitude or motivation? Is the learner interested and receptive to new ideas? I’d also suggest a connector between “learner” and “context.” Will the learner be encouraged to use new knowledge and skills within the organizational context? Or are there obstacles to implementation?

  2. These are fantastically helpful; thank you! Given these comments, you think the overall structure I created and how I positioned it will lead to the discussion I am hoping to create?

  3. I am going to pass this on to my husband to see whether he will have any comments on this. He does a lot of workplace training and will likely have something to share. This looks like a great start.

  4. I like the concept map, Jeffrey, am impressed w all u got in there. Haven’t read ur post yet but wanted to capture a thought first. For the tools at the bottom you may need to show where they are on the other things. E.g. MOOCs can be teacher or student centered (cMOOCs) but are informal and time-limited, free, online vs community of practice (f2f or online) is ongoing informal and meets no specific need but has long-term benefits. For the f2f options it might be helpful to differentiate instruction from seminars from workshops from conferences or such. Also a form of prof dev? Just reading (annotation helps). Another? Just reflecting (blogs help). Can we consider seeking mentoring as a form of prof dev?

    What about one-off things like Twitter chats analogous to seminar/forum discussions but quicker? Vs webinars that r u usually instructor-led

    1. Thanks for your comment and thoughts, Maha! I was initially planning on starting with various options, as you suggest, though think that is the challenge when people start with them before they consider the contextual and other situational factors. I then decided that I needed to consider those first, after which some of the other options may be easier to consider. For example, there may be a knee-jerk reaction to want an internal mooc or wiki, though withouth considering the need for ongoing stewardship, they will go nowhere! How many times do people want social media accounts but then abandon them because of a lack of planning to keep them current or fresh!! That is what my mind map turned into, though I think that developing a couple of your ideas into a glimpse into next steps may be a useful addition. Thanks!!

  5. Just a thought – why not have a process where you engage beneficiaries/victims of learning community (and your managers) in shaping what it might be? You could present it as your model or whatever way it might reach people best. Trying it out with a sample might be good.
    Anyway – good luck – it’s a worthwhile project.

  6. What i might be saying is this could turn into an elaborate decision tree that leads the reader to possible formats depending on their answers to questions in the earlier branches. Might get real complex tho

    1. Maha, I have a tendency to want to make a decision tree, though think that may involve programming and levels of gray that will become a full-time job on its own! Just trying to raise the issues and engage in conversation around them may be useful enough. I am hoping we can engage in the decision tree based on this as a discussion starter.

      1. If this is for an interactive session then yes! Asking questions will help ppl just think more clearly and discuss which options work well. I read ur post and i like ur focus on thinking about what’s needed before choosing the strategy. It seems obvious we should do that but ppl actually DON’T

    1. Thanks for asking him, Kay! I was a member of ASTD (ATD) for many years though gradually found it of less value so it has been some time since I visited their materials, so will check them out again. I do not recall anything like this (need) there, though perhaps will be surprised. Thank him for me! BTW, would love to connect with him on LinkedIn!

  7. Now on to my comments. Under Who, Learner, an important factor, in my opinion is interest level. There is a big difference between working with learners who are excited about being there and learners who have been sent there by the boss to get the teaching of the month that may or may not be relevant to their needs. Under Where, remember that Distant doesn’t have to be totally digital or live. It could be a downloadable/printable workbook, go at your own pace like in the olden days. Old technology, I know, but for some subjects, there needs to be some hands -on. (I love Gamification for that too. It is really changing education in areas like Operations Management. Under How Much, there should probably be research. In order to select a learning strategy you really need more information about the needs of the population you are serving. We have a survey that people in the organization take before Bob designs a training for them. The results of the survey in aggregate informs us where the trouble spots are for the organization and what are the most important things to be addressed. Effective workplace training is not one size fits all.To What Degree: to me that goes beyond required and optional. There is an element of depth to this. There can be a number of levels of training on the same topics given on a need to know basis. Training for managers would be different than for regular employees. People with deep interest in something might want and need higher level training in a field to become an expert. Under Culture (and I’m surprised that Bob didn’t catch this), the level of trust is a key factor in organizational success and productivity. You can check out the information on our website. There is a lot on trust and culture in general there. Articles, a model and some assessments, video, audio, etc.

  8. It might be interesting to ask individuals or small groups to annotate the map and draw connections. For example, what are your preferences? And what are/where are the barriers to learning– and using what you learn?
    Another option would be to collapse the sub-topics (who, what, etc.) and let them fill in the map. Then you could compare their perspectives/selected options with the ones you’ve laid out.

  9. Jeffrey, you may have already considered this in the ‘Context’ element, but usually developing a workplace learning strategy will start with understanding (and aligning with) organizational objectives, performance objectives/expectations, and any root causes of existing performance issues. A major error that many Learning professionals make is to think ‘learning’ (inputs) rather than ‘desired performance’ (outputs) at the start. Unless you have absolute clarity of expected outcomes – that that invariably requires engagement with senior stakeholders – then it’s almost impossible to design an effective solution as you’re shooting in the dark. Organizational culture is critical.

    I’ve seen many well-intentioned initiatives end up in dust because workforce expectations and culture were not taken into account. Understanding organizational expectations and any cultural/contextual constraints will impact decisions – and make them easier – once you get down to the ‘how?’

    1. Charles, this is so valuable, and much of it was swirling in my mind, though your reminder that this needs to in some way be made a bit more present is quite valuable. Thanks for the situational foundation!!

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