What insights does a bridge in Honduras have for learning professionals in 2022?
Perhaps, like me, you were building a great new program before the COVID storm hit, that now seems to be of questionable use in the new learning landscape? The world has shifted and you’re not quite sure what to do with that inspired training you designed.
In June of this year Gabby, Drew, and Cristina from Education Elements blogged about Post-Pandemic Possibilities for Educators that hints at some useful insights we can gain from a bridge in Honduras. They wrote:
"There’s a bridge in Choluteca, Honduras. It spans nearly 500 meters long, but it isn’t well known for its size or even because it is one of the only replicas of the Golden Gate bridge still in existence. Nor is it known for its importance in connecting traffic in Central America. Rather, the new Choluteca Bridge became famous as the “Bridge to Nowhere.”
The new Choluteca Bridge, a planned addition to the original Choluteca Bridge built in the 1930s, was an engineering wonder when it was completed in the 1990s. It was built to withstand powerful wind, rainstorms, and even hurricanes in a region that frequently experienced them. And withstand them it did. In 1998, the same year that the new Choluteca Bridge was completed and commissioned for use, Honduras was devastated by Hurricane Mitch, a Category 5 hurricane and the second-deadliest hurricane on record for the Atlantic region.
Miraculously, after so much of Honduran infrastructure was destroyed and flooded, the new Choluteca Bridge stood intact. When the waters receded, the bridge was in near perfect condition, yet a new challenge emerged - the Choluteca River that previously flowed under the bridge, had carved itself a new path, leaving nothing but dry land in its original bed. Honduran engineers and leaders were left with a few critical questions:
Should they try to redirect the river to flow back under the bridge?
Should they abandon the new Choluteca Bridge; celebrate its brief use, & leave it forever as a “Bridge to Nowhere”? or
Should they build a new bridge that connected to the former one, albeit with a slightly different path?
The new Choluteca bridge was built with good intentions, but it no longer served the purpose for which it was originally created."
Like the public-school educators Gabby, Drew, and Cristina described, we’ve found that learning professionals generally may be challenged with questions similar to those faced by the Honduran engineers. In the balance of this post, we’ve extended their thinking into the corporate 2022 world of learning professionals where we must decide:
Will we redirect our learners, instructional designers, and facilitators - who have adapted and stretched during “the new normal” - back to the way we’ve always delivered corporate learning?
Will we abandon some of our original learning “structures” and instructional strategies because they no longer serve the intended purpose? Or,
Will we expand our learning “structure” by redesigning existing learning experiences that honor the new digital equity we’ve discovered and hybrid context in which we exist?
What learning structures should be redirected?
Most of our L&D clients would agree that redirection is the least desirable option as the ability to be a productive remote/hybrid worker has become a critical competency of the future. There is not a lot of compelling logic behind returning to the way things used to be when we are now living and learning in a post-pandemic world with new learning demands as the new norm.
However, there are still some voices within leadership training that loudly advocate for more personal interactions and rich dialog to build the people networks needed to be a truly “great leader.” Within our client base there has been significant discussion about what criteria would be needed to justify a redirection back to the old face-to-face programs to overcome the conflicting needs of roomers and zoomers. Although hotly debated as 2021 closes out, none have met ALL the criteria – YET!
We should be asking, "Are we willing to redirect our learners, instructional designers, and facilitators - who have adapted and stretched during “the new normal” - back to the way we’ve always delivered corporate learning?"
Comment Below: What learning experiences are leaders/learners wanting to redirect in your learning sphere?
What learning structures might we abandon?
As the era of “Sage-on-the-Stage” continues to wane, we may finally be ready to move on in 2022 and abandon the need for so much instructor lead training (ILT). Experts are beginning to release the perceived “need to talk everything though” as a monolog. Learners are gradually accepting the responsibility to come more prepared. In return for that extra learner effort, they are ready for richer dialog with each other and the expert. As instructional designers we can do our part to abandon our ILT dependency as we create better hybrid learning.
It used to make sense to accommodate for time zones when training was delivered in person. However, in 2022, we should be looking to abandon the constraints of location and time zone, to build truly hybrid solutions. With intentional design, training can create new learning networks that cross these old boundaries with shorter, focused learning experiences that include both created and curated content.
We should be asking, "Are we ready to abandon some of our old learning “structures” and instructional strategies because they no longer serve the intended purpose?"
Comment Below: What learning experiences are leaders/learners talking about abandoning in your learning sphere?
What new learning structures might we design using what we already do well?
I am excited to create innovative remote hiring and virtual training experiences that expand our old paradigm. We have new opportunities for better digital equity and access to learning that we should be designing for with Hybrid workshop that really work. With new tools, we can create higher engagement in meaningful learning experiences and minimize pseudo engagement that only focuses on maintaining attention.
The puzzle pieces of instructional design have been broken apart so we can expand our design approach. With smaller chunks of content we are free to create short meaningful pre-work, live virtual sessions with rich dialog, and pointed follow-up activities to reinforce key takeaways. These microlearning chunks allow for strategic content reuse in so many new ways.
We should be asking, "are we able to expand our learning “structure” by redesigning existing learning experiences that honor the new digital equity we’ve discovered and hybrid context we have now?"
Comment Below: What learning experiences are leaders/learners wanting to expand in your learning sphere?
In summary, those pre-pandemic learning experiences were built with the best of intentions.
However, the world has shifted! Going into the new year as responsible learning professionals, we must decide if it’s best for our learners and the desired corporate learning outcomes to redirect, abandon, or expand.
I can’t wait to see what issues you’re wrestling with in the chat below. To message me directly about this topic, please email me at Joanne.Bentley@blueresourcing.com.