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chairman, Learning and Performance Institute @DonaldHTaylor

Donald H Taylor f

amily holidays have a habit of creating rituals. For us, no trip to North Norfolk would

be complete without a trip to the Holt Vinyl Vault – a local Post Office that doubles as a secondhand record store. Handling those LPs like pre- cious artefacts, the golden age of vinyl feels as distant as that of the Ancient Greeks. Tese days, recorded music is effectively just a collection of ones and zeros, ideal for electronic distribution. If video killed the radio star, the web turned records into quaint collectibles. Many people expected classroom

training to wither away as dramatical- ly with the advent of the web. Why on earth would you need a physical space for learning when information can be distributed electronically? And yet, classroom training has

not fallen off a cliff. Yes, the use of the physical classroom continues a slow decline year on year, according to the annual Learning and Performance

Don reminisces on the demise of vinyl but sees classroom training continuing, with the right type of facilitator

and reformed. Tis does not have to happen in a classroom, but because the process often involves trial and error, people tend to prefer it removed from work, in an environment where experimentation is safe: a room with a good facilitator can be great for this. Two other things happen in well-

run physical learning spaces that help us learn better: sharing and feedback. Tey can also, of course, happen online, but face-to-face they happen faster and in ways we are familiar with. If classroom use has not fallen off

a cliff, then it is because it suits some learning very well. Not simple infor- mation transfer – that belongs online – but complex learning experiences involving experimentation, sharing and feedback. While these can all happen without any intervention, they are more effective, and the learning lasts longer, with the help of an expert facilitator. And that is what the advent

Why on earth would you need a physical space for learning when information can be distributed electronically?

Institute Learning Survey, but it still accounts for some 60-70 per cent of the effort of L&D departments in both the UK and US. If learning were only about information transfer, it should have moved online by now, like music sales. If this has not happened, it is for

a simple reason. We do not learn by having our heads filled with informa- tion. Learning is not a matter of ones and zeros. It is far more subtle, intri- cate and magnificent than that. With a few exceptions, learning is

an iterative process. Knowledge and skills are formed, consolidated, eroded

of the web has brought with it. It is not the classroom that is threatened with extinction, but the traditional trainer. Tat role, focused on presenting information, is rapidly becom- ing redundant. In contrast, facilitation is in increasing demand, and enables L&D professionals to help learning happen faster and with more impact. It’s time to transition to this new role, otherwise L&D profession- als run the risk of becoming, like vinyl, little more than a quaint memory.

Donald H Taylor is a 25-year veteran of the learning, skills and human capital industries, with experience at every level from design and delivery to chairman of the board. @DonaldHTaylor

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