Why I do not like learning awards

I have been asked a few times lately why I have never personally submitted anything to awards such as the e-Learning Awards.

There is first, of course, the question of if any of my work would be a valid entry, or at least good enough to warrant some of the judges’ time.  However, there are more fundamental issues with such awards in my opinion.

My primary complaint is that they still encourage a ‘solutioneering’, static, approach to learning.  If you can package something in a way that can be submitted for external review it seems, to me, to miss the point of being embedded in a wider learning/knowledge framework – never-mind being embedded in workplace practice.  Even if we take it as being a demonstration of quality content, as presented to an audience via a Learning Management System (LMS), it suggests a chunking of content into large components – rather than breaking things down into a way that allows people to pick and choose what is relevant to them.

Whilst I appreciate award shows offer an opportunity to celebrate success and foster team engagement/morale I am still to be sold on the benefits outweighing the sense of verging into Hollywood-esque hubris.

Why we should all be a little bit more like Faith No More

I’m not a huge music fan, certainly when compared to a number of my school and university friends who have been in various bands over the years, I have never really been a big follower.  Sure, I tend to have LastFM (old format anyway) or YouTube on in the background when working but my gig attendance has always been fairly limited.

The gigs I have attended over the years have tended to be those bands that caught my attention in my youth. These are the bands who have kept a place in my ears, through my not particularly rebellious years, the dance floors of my student days and into our modern streaming world.  One band that has made it through that whole journey is Faith No More.

An excellent Guardian article on Faith No More’s most recent comeback and album got me thinking that their style and refusal to be easily classified into one musical genre or another has, perhaps, had a more profound impact on me than I had ever realized.

So what did I take from that article?  Well, messages such as:

  1. make decisions based on your desires and convictions
  2. be prepared to take the implications of your decisions
  3. don’t fall into a box just because people think you should
  4. we are all unique.

I still see a lot of comments in the workplace related literature that is keen to put people into some kind of ‘social style’ or other box – be it based on sex, age, characteristic or other factor.  I have never been keen on this kind of profiling and perhaps the variety of my music tastes (from early 80s hip-hop to early 00s cheese; from Elvis Presley to Edith Pilaf) suggest some ‘out of the box’ thinking on my part.  However, I suspect I am far from abnormal in not being easily ‘profiled’.

So let’s celebrate our differences, let’s recognize our individual capabilities, let’s share our experiences and let’s combine all of this into something even greater than the sum of our parts.  This is at least part of what L&D should be doing, encouraging people to reflect and make the workplace better through their unique contributions, as one member of FnM puts it in the article:

“We came back and we made it better. If that’s the only lesson we learned, that’s a good lesson.”