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2010 – design thinking, analytics, metaphors +

Predication and plans for 2010

In response to the ASTD big question this month – I offer the following


  • Design thinking will be the buzz word for 2010. To be honest, I’m still figuring out what it means for learning. I think this all started with Tom Kelly’s IDEO: Art of Innovation book back in 2005 (see my review of this book) and continues with Tim Brown’s Change by Design. On IDEO’s blog, design thinking is described by 3 ideas: Inspiration, Iteration and Change
  • Analytics will rule. I think the learning profession, especially online learning folks, will have to collect more specific data on how people are using the learning, finding patterns in the data to describe different “types” of learners. Again, still figuring this one out. (See post on analytics book review.)


  • Finding new metaphors for learning. The metaphors of the book, and of the the classroom/course still dominate learning. What are the new metaphors? How do we move beyond these old metaphors? I think the big tool sets out there (Captivate, Articulate) push us towards these metaphors. Will there be new tools that move us in a different direction?
  • Aging workforce. We’ve heard much about Gen Y. However, I think we are also dealing with an aging workforce. I need to research more stats.


  • Get work, get paid. Let there be work! Looking forward to being more fully employed in 2010, whether that be employment or more contracts: 2009 was not the best year to graduate :-}
  • Design more games. Been focussed so much on the employment thing, forgot to do the thing I really wanted to explore.
  • Learn more about:
    • Design thinking
    • Analytics
    • Metaphors for learning
    • Workforce statistics
    • Tools that break the mold(s)

Hmmm… I see many blog posts coming out of this. Happy 2010 everyone – may it be filled with blue skies and new possibilities!

Posted in ASTD big question.

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9 Responses

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  1. Saqib Ali says

    hmm. what about metaphors for unlearning? we have to unlearn how we have learned in the past.

  2. Rani H. Gill says

    Hi Saqib – Thanks for your comment. RE: Unlearning metaphors? To interpret your question — if we learn new associations via new metaphors, we are re-configuring how we frame what we know. So in that case, unlearning becomes a reconfiguration. So for example, if we want to unlearn the metaphor of the classroom, the obvious unlearning choice is to take people outside of the classroom — and create perhaps a walking learning environment. Unconferences take this kind of approach. If we want to unlearn the metaphor of eLearning as “book” or “page turner”, perhaps we create learning that forces them to break the linear narrative and look up from their screen — forcing a think-break. Unlearning metaphors is a great way to think about this. thanks.

  3. Saqib says

    Hi Rani,

    What you are describing is non-doing i.e. not taking people to classrooms. un-doing (i.e. unlearning) requires a lot more effort, and is not easy.


  4. Rani H. Gill says

    Good point. However, I think undoing can also be a way of unlearning – it breaks expectations, it’s an interruption of the script. How would you suggest people “unlearn”? Should the focus be on the past or the future we want to create?

  5. Saqib says

    That is the question. I wish I had an answer 🙂

    But the focus definitely has to be on the past and NOT the future, because the future we create in our head is based on what we have learned so far. Which is no good. 🙂

  6. Rani H. Gill says

    Saqib – how then would you approach unlearning? I’m interested in your thoughts.

  7. Saqib says

    Hi Rani,

    I was hoping you or your blog readers might have some ideas……. 🙂


  8. Rani H. Gill says

    If we examine cognitive psychology the way we unlearn old associations is by creating new associations. If you keep focusing on the “old” behaviors you reinforce them (“don’t think of an elephant”). If we know specifically the behaviors or actions then you can disrupt those actions — literally disrupt their script. For example – I successfully seen coaching used during role plays to interrupt a role-play person’s “old” behaviors. You interrupt the script and have them act it out again in a different manner. Or you tell a familiar story – but tell it from a different point of view, or put a twist in it to disrupt the script. Or you put people in unfamiliar situations where they cannot rely on their usual behaviors — they have to act or behave differently to succeed. It’s difficult to be more specific unless I am are addressing a specific situation. Feel free to connect via email if you are trying to solve a specific problem and I’ll see what I can do to help. cheers.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Mental Model Breakdown | wander@will linked to this post on February 11, 2010

    […] and thus need to be “unlearned” (you can read about it in the comments section of this post.) It got me thinking — how does one “unlearn, alter, dismantle or simply change other […]

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