ATD Blog

Let's Stop Pretending

Monday, July 30, 2012

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I work with researchers - people who spend time living in data and coming up for air only when they have actionable insights in tow. In some ways this has been a bracing change of pace for me, and for the most part it has been very interesting to witness. I don't think any of my colleagues in Rosslyn would put it this way, but I like to think that the unspoken refrain in this kind of work is:

look -- really look -- at what is in front of you.

stop pretending that things are otherwise.

act accordingly.


Rinse. Repeat.


I like this idea a lot. I think I like it so much because we are living in an age of unprecedented access to data and potential analysis. It's flooding into our living rooms, our classrooms, and our conversations, threatening to knock over our television viewing habits and aborting our actor sighting arguments into trips to IMDb. Never has it been easier to elicit the right answer, even taking into account the number of wrong answers that doggedly flank our prey. In the interests of taking stock of the world in which we're working - in light of all of this (and inspired by this unconference update) - let's stop pretending.

  • Let's stop pretending that the answer to 70-20-10 is to double down on formal learning hierarchies.
  • Let's stop pretending that what you're collecting with your LMS has a lot to show in terms of learning analytics, ROI, or business intelligence.
  • For starters, let's stop pretending that live instructor-led or online education are the only (let alone ranking) games in town.
  • Let's stop pretending that we don't know (better than most) that the ones most responsive to change will survive.
  • Let's stop pretending that the solution to crafting excellent learning experiences is going to come from Silicon Valley.
  • ...or from a tool. (it bears repeating.)
  • Let's stop pretending that tools are anything more than tools.
  • Let's stop pretending that elearning and mlearning should exist as terms.
  • Let's stop pretending that we even know how to spell eLearning e-learning e-Learning elearning.
  • Let's stop pretending that any part of our value comes from shrouding our methods and knowledge in mystery.
  • Let's stop pretending that the transparency of a common language for what we do is anything but potential #winning.
  • Let's stop pretending that any of this is about anything other than GTD.
  • Pelo amor de deus, can we please stop pretending that catering to learning styles is something that we should be talking about in 2012?
  • Let's stop pretending that bowing to business pressures from stakeholders is helping anyone, in the long run.
  • Let's stop pretending that some part of us didn't wish that we could please everyone.
  • Let's stop pretending that we don't have the scars to prove that much of our value is in our spirited, educated opposition.
  • Let's stop pretending that we can get away with not knowing how to work with visual and user experience design teams.
  • Let's stop pretending that we have nothing to learn from visual and user experience design teams. (for starters, they tend to be more comfortable with the concept of design thinking than we.)
  • Let's stop pretending that badges = fun.
  • Let's stop pretending that this game from 2006 isn't more engaging than a fair lot of serious/educational gaming.
  • Let's stop giving the impression that we as a people have this social media thing figured out. (This is me, standing on the free soil of Google+land, staring disapprovingly at you all trying to make it work in Facebookistan. Let's get it together, my people.)
  • Let's stop pretending that, at one point or another, we haven't for a moment wondered if we deserve to be marginalized. (Opinions on learning are never short supply.)
  • Let's stop pretending that what we do is to be relegated to the corner of any business or institution. What we do is central to life -- or at least, living full throttle. Let's make everyone else realize that, too.
About the Author

Craig Wiggins has been helping people create and manage learning experiences for the past 10 years. He is the community manager for the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiatives. Craig holds a BA in anthropology and an MEd in curriculum development, and spends a lot of time thinking about how to sneak usability, accessibility, and proper task analysis into the mix. In his natural habitat, he is usually storyboarding on wall-sized whiteboards or pontificating on Twitter or Google+.

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