People Management – Training design is dead(ish)

I discovered an article written for People Management magazine Opinion: Training design is dead(ish). The author, Sheridan Webb discusses how social media is changing the way learning solutions are designed. With 20 years experience Sheridan has watched the industry change through the raise of the internet and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In this article she discusses if there will still be a need for training designers, as content is widely available in various forms and learners only need to ‘google it’. She concludes;

I will no longer be a training designer in the traditional sense. Instead I will be a learning curator, enabling learners and facilitators to access all the information, tools and support they need to get the development they want, when they want it and how they want it – and to help it to develop with them.

Working as a learning designer I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. It is essential to be able to signpost learners to useful content, which may already exist, and explain how it fits with organisational objectives.

Sheridan indicates there will be a need for:

those who can bring to life information through provoking discussions, carefully designed exercises and bespoke case studies.

This is very true, these discussions and case studies can be used to support training solutions and create engaging, realistic scenarios which spark emotions of learners. If the learner is unable to connect with the content and apply it to the real world the message may be lost.

I support Sheridans comment that social media is evolving the way training needs to be designed. Individuals access information for their personal life on so many channels. Hands up who has  ‘youtubed’ a problem and found a solution?  Our job as designers is to make the  workplace training just as accessible.

Training design is also reliant on technology and as this changes, so must the work we design. There is a lot of talk about Virtual Reality (VR) and how this can support training. Being able to put a learner into a virtual situation and learn through real life scenarios is a very exciting prospect. I believe the delivery methods are changing and organisations are going to expect more from designers. Therefore it is essential that as a Learning Design I maintain my CPD and scan across the industry to plan for the future.

The views and opinions expressed in the resources shared are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views do not necessarily reflect those of Focus N Develop.

6 thoughts on “People Management – Training design is dead(ish)

  1. Arielle Brown says:

    This article presents many points for discussion. I would like to note the observation that, with the exponential increase in new learning technologies and resources, the role of the training designer may be reduced. I certainly agree that the advent of more novel and innovative tools can change the role of the designer, however, it is still important to put just as much thought into which technology or instructional form and/or resource is best suited for the specific learner’s needs. Is the resource relevant to the daily role of the learner? Are these tools based in the most appropriate pedagogy and process for what the learner is looking to focus on? These are just a few of the questions that should be addressed in order to form a more guided framework for choosing and implementing various technologies. Otherwise, learners may not be able to establish the basic foundation of concepts needed to fully integrate these new technologies effectively, much like handing a scientific calculator to a kindergartener.


  2. Shelia W says:

    Thanks for the good luck on the Masters. My challenge is also getting my supervisor to support my learning. Many learners today could benefit from some good old Career Counseling. We practiced that on a routine basis back in the 80’s during my years at Xerox. Career Counseling was a chance for hope and dreams and it provided the employees the motivation to learn new things. Your job assignment may not have offered the use of some of the newer technologies, but your interest did not have to stop there. You were encourage and received extra credit towards pay and job opportunities with your initiative shown to learn and handle new things.

    The fear of competition also encouraged you to reach out to learn more and be bench strength for when opportunities arose. I was a Project Manager back then and at one time had issues for always being assigned to the new challenges. It required me to brush up on my skills continually and was the first to learn the new technology. Now as I look back at it, I feel very lucky since the challenges today’s employees have in being offered growth and development in my current organization is treated as a potential treat to learn and leave the organization.

    As a trainer, learning should be continual and natural for planning and should be expected when you join an organization. The investment in the employee should match the investment expected from the employee.



  3. Brianna says:

    I have to agree with Sheridan on the fact that social media is changing how learning solutions are designed, but not only that, social media (and technology, period) are changing how people learn and receive, interpret, and retain information. As an elementary school teacher, technology integration in classrooms is increasing. More teachers are receiving endorsements, certificates, and degrees in fields related to technology so that they can stay up-to-date with technological trends and advancements. There is a large push now for learning to be more “personalized,” so teachers are encouraged to be facilitators rather than instructors. We are encouraged to provide students with content or information through various modes (e.g. textbooks, Internet, multimedia, etc.) and allow students to interpret the information, develop their own questions, and create their own solutions. Learners now have access to information that is readily available with a simple “click”. Therefore, the way in which training designers, instructional designers, and even teachers present information is changing because ultimately, our learners are changing.


  4. Shelia Whitehead says:

    When I saw the title “Training is Dead”, I decided to look since I just invested in getting my masters degree in Instructional Design. Reading further, I was delighted to see the comments of the need to blend the new technology via the way “they want it” is key. In my organization, I try to point my students to community boards and other resources to learn, but some leaders feel I am giving them to much access to company information that could be used outside of their job function to grow personally. My thought is, That is the intent! Motivate them to peak their interest and learn more about what there is to know. That’s great for career growth as well. Instructional Designers need to provide access to knowledge available.


    • Focus 'N Develop says:

      Hi Shelia,
      I completely agree with providing as much information as possible. There will always be people who want to discover more and I feel that’s our job to provide it. You would hope that leaders would support that.
      Good luck with your masters.


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