Monday, August 31, 2015

From Dependence to Interdependence: The Changing Role of Learning Consultants

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about the concept of the Maturity Continuum. He discusses seven habits that are designed to help individuals move from Dependence to Independence (Self-Mastery) to Interdependence (the highest level of maturity). While the book is designed for individuals to become more effective in their personal lives, the ideas translate well into all aspects of life. I have been thinking about how these ideas can influence the design of learning and our role as learning consultants.

Internet and easy access to information is changing the role of a learning designer. The advancements in the social and technological environment of learning are redefining what we must do. There is still a need for identifying learning gaps and providing the right solutions but the solutions are not necessarily in the form of courses. Whether we embrace it or not, learners are more in control of their learning than ever before and learning is becoming more social and personalized. I don't think we are 'designing' learning in the strict sense of design anymore. Instead, I find myself acting more like a consultant who is facilitating the process of learning and working towards delivering performance. 

From creating learners who are highly dependent, I am moving towards a role where my relationship with my learners is transforming into interdependence. 

In the act of consulting and designing learning experiences, I want to encourage learners to take responsibility for their own learning and guide them as they find the solutions to their performance problems. In this environment, I see my role as a facilitator of the process of learning and not necessarily the provider of information or knowledge. I see myself as the seed for learning conversations through which I can enable my learners to connect with other learners, their peers, and experts in their personal learning network. In that sense, I am a node in the learning path; and hopefully a critical one. I see myself as the one that connects learners and creates opportunities for interaction and engagement. 

There is a greater need for content curation and presenting information in the context of learning and performance. There is a need for identifying the right learning and performance metrics and gathering evidence in support of performance improvement. There is a need for becoming an agent for change. 

The way I look at it, my goal as a learning consultant is to help learners move along their maturity continuum and help them define and follow their path from dependence to interdependence.