Several years ago I stopped creating e-learning courses and switched to creating portals (and more recently apps) that serve up short media resources (checklists, video, infographics etc.). Instead of spending two days on a course, or forty minutes with e-learning, the typical portal user might spend ten.

And the question is sometimes asked 'But can you really compare 10 minutes on a website with two days on a course?' And the answer - perhaps surprisingly - is yes.

My first corporate job was for a multinational telecoms company. We were asked to look into blending a week-long training course for field engineers, on the topic of PABX installation (A PABX is a big piece of telephony kit and is complicated to install).

Peter Senge is often credited with popularising the notion of the 'learning organisation' in his book The Fifth Discipline (1990), but the work does not extend to details and mechanics. In addition, it's hard to find exemplar 'learning organisations' so difficult to derive such principles from observation.

In my last post I talked about the dangers of content-centric thinking in learning design, and I thought maybe that needed a little more explanation.

Quite often a blended learning design conversation becomes about the ‘content bucket’: a collective term for all the information that various stakeholders want to put into a course.

I’ve noticed that these terms are being used loosely, and that this is causing problems in comprehending underlying phenomena. Simple example: I read a blog today which argued (on the basis of MOOC studies) that online learning isn’t as popular as we might think. Wrong. Online learning is hugely popular; for most Western adults it is now the dominant form of learning, I believe. By contrast E-learning is, and always has been, unpopular.

There’s a gap in the market. Today we have two options: high quality face-to-face training and low quality e-learning. What’s missing is high quality online learning.

By ‘high quality’ I mean only that face-to-face is generally considered to be a good experience – and e-learning a poor experience. If you don’t believe me, try running ‘e-learning’ through sentiment140 (or twitterfall). Find out what people actually think of e-learning. It’s sobering (warning: swearwords won't be filtered).

There are two kinds of people in the world [sic]: those who think about people, and those who think about stuff.

You may know them as extroverts & introverts.

I suppose you are familiar with the shortcomings of introverts: to be an introvert is to find oneself adrift in a world of bewildering social convention, inscrutable interpersonal subtleties and generally awkward at parties. It's exhausting.

In a previous blog post I talked about the application of affective context theory to the design of the BP online induction portal. A year and a half post launch we have paused to reflect on results. 

BP receives around 6,000 new staff each year. Our objective was to ensure that each new starter received support to perform, develop & connect; support delivered at the point of need. The end result was the product of a dedicated team of digital experts, both internal and external.

I used the diagram above at the HR technology conference in Amsterdam to illustrate the way in which various learning interventions (described in the Field Guide) interact with affective context. By way of explanation,the learner's concern (or degree of affective context) is given along the bottom, the relative ability of the learning intervention to impart concern along the top.

It turns out there are two ‘you’s: the rational, logical, furrowed-brow you. The you that you like to think of as you. And the other you: the part you have in common with animals - the part which has evolved for millions of years - the part which is instinctive, unconscious and infinitely more complex and powerful.

In his book, 'Thinking Fast and Slow' [PDF summary here] Nobel laureate Daniel Kahnemann describes your two 'yous', dubbing them (rather unimaginatively) 'system 1' & 'system 2'.