IMAGINE A SCHOOL WITH NO LESSONS, JUST BLOCKS OF TIME LED BY SPEAKERS, DRONING ON AND ON AT STUDENTS UNTIL THE TIME ALLOT TED IS OVER. THAT ’S IT, INFORMATION IMPARTED, JOB DONE. IN THAT SCENARIO THE FOCUS IS NOT ON THE STUDENTS, IT IS ON THE SPEAKER’S ABILITY TO RECITE INFORMATION.
In this dull and uninspiring tableau, it is not a lesson and they are not a teacher. Knowledge has not been accessed and feedback has not been given. If any learning has taken place, or any progress has been made, it remains a mystery. Organisations do not adequately think of their learners when planning learning opportunities, which is not just illconsidered, but certifiable, given data suggests around 86 percent of employees say job training is important to them and 74 percent make the effort to learn outside of work hours1 .
Great teachers know they need to engage their students and there is no more powerful moment than during the assessment of learning and subsequent feedback. According to the Education Endowment Foundation, feedback “has a high impact on learning outcomes”, with teachers the most powerful source of feedback, but digital technology also achieving positive outcomes2 . Good feedback embeds knowledge and orientates the learner towards further progression. Research has culminated in a wealth of theories on feedback models in the 1990s. However, as Panadero and Lipnevich point out: “In contrast to the earlier conception where “feedback was done” to the student, in the most current feedback models, the learner is not only at the centre of the feedback process, but is now an active agent. They not only process feedback, but respond to it, can generate it and acquires feedback expertise to engage with it in more advanced ways”3 .
Do any organisations even think of their employees as “learners” or “students”? Great teachers would, even if job titles say something else. Responsive and caring organisations are the ones supporting their employees to improve, achieve better work/life balance, to reskill or upskill. As much of the evolving workforce strives for greater autonomy and freedom, so L&D solutions need to match this evolution. This is the human element we have become so much more aware of these past few years. This is about thinking emotionally as well as strategically. Indeed, employers are increasingly aligning L&D strategy with business priorities4 , which is strategic thinking. The question is, have they aligned it with learners’ priorities?
There are still huge barriers to great teaching, time and money being the usual culprits. Learners need to know that their precious time is well spent. Apathy, disengagement and even wider disillusionment are the by-products from learning opportunities that do not adequately support learners. Great L&D teams don’t teach, they put systems in place to replicate great teaching, because they understand that learners value feedback. If an organisation doesn’t have insight into whether knowledge levels are increasing and the subsequent impact this is having on the business, something is seriously wrong. Emerging technology has all the potential to solve not just the issues around budget and employee time for CPD, but also to support DEI initiatives. All this will increase employee retention and fuel growth.
1. Article on SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/
2. Article on the EEF: ducationendowmentfoundation.org. uk/education-evidence/teaching-learning-toolkit/feedback
4. CIPD Learning and Skills at Work survey (2021)
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