New trends make us rethink traditional learning methods

This interview, conducted with Bob Mosher, covers the following topics: Keys to developing successful learning processes, effective instructional strategies, and efficient knowledge-sharing processes; Recommendations in developing effective processes of learning evangelization; The main challenge for instructional designers in 2014 along with eLearning trends for next year; and, How students can become producers of content. Interview with Bob Mosher, Chief Learning Evangelist at APPLY Synergies


@americaleaerning: What are the keys to developing successful learning processes, effective instructional strategies, and efficient knowledge-sharing processes?

Bob Mosher: The most effective instructional strategies and knowledge sharing processes are born out of an understanding of the learners performance measures and desired outcomes. One of the most common misunderstandings around instructional design is that its purpose is to make someone knowledgeable and “learn something”. Becoming knowledgeable is only one step in the process towards effectively performing. Knowing is not doing.

All instructional strategies should build from the moment of apply, back. Our greatest challenge is to help the learner become self-reliant and competent in what they do every day. Yes, competence is achieved through knowing first, but ultimately is achieved through applying what one knows in any given situation, and more importantly remaining current.

The most effective instructional strategies I have seen are built on the premise of enabling competency through performance support first and training in support of that. Knowledge sharing is a natural extension of remaining competent. If a learning ecosystem is built on a competency model, knowledge sharing becomes intrinsic to that model. It's when we move knowledge sharing outside of competency and have it become a repository of information alone that it loses its effectiveness and the buy-in of the learner. Knowledge sharing processes die every day because they lack context and purpose, which are the ultimate drivers in these environments.


@americaleaerning: What recommendations do you have to share in regards to developing effective processes of learning evangelization?

Bob Mosher: Learning evangelism needs to take on a number of owners. First and foremost a learner needs to be their own evangelist building the skills needed to stand self-reliant in one's learning. Managers need to become learning evangelists for their employees. In order to do this they need to take on a professional development role and understand the outcomes and competencies needed for their employees to progress. The learning and development, as well as HR, departments need to own a level of learning evangelism - helping their programs align with the needs and outcomes of the business. They need to be servant leaders to the business and its goals, not to content and the mastery of that content. Finally, the leadership and enterprise as a whole needs to be a learning evangelist ultimately owning performance improvement as one of their overarching tenants. If learners don't perceive professional development as part of the overarching culture learning evangelism will never take hold.


@americaleaerning: What more can you provide around the technologies involved in those processes?

Bob Mosher: As was stated earlier, learning processes need to be owned by the lines of business and learners themselves. All too often learning and development or HR feel that they own this outcome. Actually, they are stewards to this deliverable but do not own it. A successful learning process is “needs” based and exists across what are known as the five moments of need. These are elicited by the learner based on the performance requirements they find themselves in. They are as follows:

  1. Learning something new
  2. Learning more
  3. Trying to apply or remember what one has learned
  4. Keeping up with change
  5. Troubleshooting a problem

Any learning process or solution should be built around serving these five moments intentionally with both methodology and technology. This leads to your second question - Technology should be the enablers of these five moments. Historically training, and its related tools from the classroom to online, has supported moments one and two. Performance support meets the needs of moments three through five and there are many powerful technologies available in the performance support world. Any successful learning program offers both effective training and performance support strategies and solutions.


@americaleaerning: What do you believe will be the main challenges that instructional designers will have in 2014? How do you see them being undertaken?

Bob Mosher: I believe the main challenge instructional designers will face in 2014 is reengineering their thinking around moments three through five outlined above. Historically we have been schooled to create solutions that only serve moments one and two. We live in a world of constant churn and change. The old methodologies and design structures that used to help us keep up no longer can. New agile methodologies need to be put in place and adopted to allow instructional designers to keep up and build solutions across all five moments. Adopting these agile methodologies and design tools will allow instructional designers to develop more effective learning solutions than we have done in the past.


@americaleaerning: What are eLearning trends are you seeing for 2014?

Bob Mosher: Information is becoming more prevalent, embedded, contextual, mobile, and at one's fingertips. Designing instruction that hosts this type of information in the most effective way is the most powerful trend for 2014. Dr. Betsy Sparrow from Columbia University has released some powerful research around what is called transactive memory and how technologies such as Google are beginning to shape the way we retain information. Basically learners are becoming better at learning where to find information than how to remember information.

This has a dramatic effect on our learning strategies, the content we build, and the vendors we choose to partner with. These new trends will cause us to rethink our traditional tools such as an LMS, the classroom, and eLearning. Once again, knowledge bases and technologies such as electronic performance support are playing a lead role in this movement.


@americaleaerning: How can students become producers of content? Do you think the appearance of learning solutions based on social networks can help increase this trend?

Bob Mosher: User-generated content is going to become more prevalent and powerful in the coming years. Social media is going to take a lead role in this, but as was mentioned above the danger is taking a tools only approach. Social media such as Facebook thrive because it has a context in which to be consumed and authored. Many of these social media tools, when brought into the workplace, lack that context and the assumption is that their sheer existence will drive adoption and usage. This is a misguided view. Learners need a reason to gather. Content needs an outcome to be built around and maintained. As we adopt these tools we have to keep the appropriate outcomes in mind.



When we did this interview, Bob Mosher was Chief Learning Evangelist at Ontuitive (his role in this company was to help guide the instructional strategy, methodology, and delivery of performance support to multi-national clients. Bob has previously worked at The MASIE Center, Microsoft, and Element K.

Apply Synergies is a strategic consulting firm that specializes in helping learning organizations design, develop and measure effective learning and performance strategies to meet the 5 moments of learning need. Apply Synergies offers products and services which include consulting, workshops, and speaking,