What L&D Needs to Know about Negative Learning

     

All learning is good, right? Not always. In this distributed learning post, find out how to prevent bad techniques and wrong information from being shared across your organization.

Do you know how to prevent negative learning at work?

Assumptions can be dangerous.

It’s easy to assume that all learning is positive, but that’s not always the case. Spreading incorrect information or processes can result in lost time and resources, or even serious consequences, such as illness or injury. Consider the following examples:

  • A factory worker who learns that safety gear is not only uncomfortable, but also unnecessary after a period of time without incurring an accident

  • A doctor who learns a particular drug is the most effective treatment for a disease and, years later, continues to teach this to junior doctors even after new and better treatments are available

  • A salesperson who gives incorrect product information to customers after reading a outdated intranet page

Data is your friend.

Tracking data from distributed learning activities can help capture instances of negative learning like the ones described in the previous section.

For example, we might observe the majority of workers who aren’t wearing appropriate safety gear also have only worked in a factory for less than two years, during which time the factory hasn’t reported accidents. We could then create learning interventions to target that particular at-risk group.

In the case of the doctor, we could ask junior doctors to record their informal learning along with respective sources in journals. By looking at data from the journals of doctors who performed poorly in an assessment relating to that particular disease, we could identify the source of the misinformation and, again, intervene.

The salesperson’s misinformation might be picked up by data from customer complaints. Or, if a large number of salespeople are giving wrong information, data about which intranet pages the salespeople are using could pinpoint the misinformation source(s).

Remember, the faster you can identify negative learning within your organization, the faster you can remedy the situation. Use these steps to get started:

Up Next: Distributed Learning in a Nutshell

We’re just one post away from completing our Distributed Learning series. Be sure to check in next week, as we summarize everything you need to know about learning everywhere.


Getting Started Is Easy

If you need a refresher on tracking and measuring learning, download the Essentials of Learning Evaluation eBook below. 

eBook: Essentials of Learning Evaluation Guide

About The Author

As one of the authors of xAPI, Andrew Downes has years of expertise in data-driven learning design. And, with a background in instructional design and development, he’s well versed in creating learning experiences and platforms in both corporate and academic environments.