Digging deeper: Audience Learning Profiles and PLEs

You are building, whether intentional or not, a theme of how your learners will seek out and absorb information.  There is an evolving culture and environment for learning outside the scope of any one program. The fact of the matter is, everyone already has a way of accessing information that is easiest for them both within and outside of the workplace.  Why force them to learn a new way when you can possibly leverage what the already know?

This became abundantly clear in an exercise I participated in some time ago.  We asked a pilot group in a computer lab to search for information on random general topics using any tool at their disposal.  Topics ranged from the definition of an acronym or word to finding a recipe.  The turnaround for everyone, as you would expect, was exceedingly fast.  Seconds in most cases.

We then asked the same group to use only corporately available tools to find internal information.  Again topics ranged from definitions to project outlines and templates to benefit information.  Turnaround was very slow.  Many weren’t sure where to start, everyone took different routes and many were unable to complete the exercise at all.

Albeit not a fair exercise in many workplaces, especially smaller organizations where most information might not be readily accessible, a conclusion could still be drawn around how much thought was put into the design of information access as a whole at the corporation.

There wasn’t any.

If you follow any model where you seek to intermix formal learning with informal learning, you a going to quickly create an abundance of collateral for learners to leverage.  You might be looking at leveraging wikis, job aids, blogs, dashboards and white paper repositories for your teams to use.  But was there thought as a whole into the overall design of information access and what makes sense for each team?

Rarely does a learning practitioner have the opportunity to steer the way a company sets up it’s information systems and how the collage of tools and workflow for an employee interact.  You can however learn how to ensure your solutions “fit” in that environment.

In observing a potential learner for a day, you will observe for example:

  • Tools they gravitate to for answers to questions (phone, google, intranet, mobile, LMS)
  • The way they optimize their workflow (two monitors for toolA and toolB)
  • Linear and non-linear tasking (they start logging a ticket before hanging up)
  • How the team interacts with each other (messenger, face to face, SMS)

A map can be made that reflects that individuals Personal Learnng Environment (PLE). Pool this with other team members’ PLEs and that overlay will provide you with trends you can take into your next solution (TLE?). For company wide deployments, pooling all team will provide a theme of how the company prefers to learn (CLE?).

Follow this map! Create your solutions that fit within this paradigm. Deploy a solution with an mLearning follow up refresher for leaders that lean towards that are always in 1:1 meetings. Reconsider the deployment of a new wiki when access to current tools are a struggle. If access to the LMS is a challenge while reps are on the phone due to screen real estate, add deep links that open new modules directly on their support portal.

PLEs are a fantastic audience profile tool and, if kept current, are of immense value in keeping your finger on your company’s learning paradigm.


About Andrew Ambrose
I am passionate about the learning longtail for formal and informal learning solutions, leveraging social media and networking technology for learning projects, innovation through mLearning, collaborative learning and applying solutions that fit within the learners personal learning environment.

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