Dark Learning

What is Dark Learning?

Dark Learning is an approach to enablement that transparently causes people to embrace new behaviors, skills and abilities. 

Dark Learning represents a shift in how people think about and execute enterprise learning (training).

Dark Learning is not a new approach to developing or delivering e-learning, instructor-led training and job aids.

Lean and Agile Impact on Traditional Learning

Lean and Agile approaches have driven nearly every part of the enterprise to focus on:

  • Delivering higher value in shorter cycles, or even continuously
  • Eliminating waste (anything that does not deliver value to the customer) from their processes
  • Producing Minimum Viable Products that provide value to customers quickly and enable the business to adapt more rapidly
  • Breaking down silos and reducing handoffs between groups within the enterprise
  • Embracing continuous improvement and innovation  

In spite of such tremendous focus on time-to-value for products and services, most enterprises have yet to apply the same tenets to skills-building and employee learning.

Traditional Enterprise Learning

Ask most enterprises about their approach to learning and you'll hear about traditional approaches, including instructor-led training, web-based training, virtual instructor-led training and webinars. In some cases, the responses will center on some of the more modern technologies, such as augmented reality, virtual reality, responsive mobile delivery, micro-learning and, possibly, xAPI.

Dark Learning reconsiders those standard training requests

Dark Learning takes a different approach in that it intercepts the request for "learning" or training in its earliest stages and seeks out alternative, seamless approaches ("dark" approaches) to addressing the need. For example, a request for application/software training may be better served by changing, fixing or innovating upon the application--something that has become more realistic with modern continuous delivery software development approaches. They key to Dark Learning is looking at the root problem, considering the value and impact to end customers and creatively considering better ways of enabling people to get their jobs done more quickly and easily. Meeting the needs of learners goes beyond providing great content in aesthetically-pleasing and convenient formats and focuses instead on making a measurable difference using analytics, reducing the distance between learners and experts and both personalizing and contextualizing learning to the learner's reality.

The Dark Learning Disruption

We can point to examples of change and symptoms (learning in smaller bites, learning on mobile devices, leveraging social, the rise of video and Youtube), but the fundamental cause is the demand for ever-increasing agility. Dark Learning is a disruption to learning that we see as a result of "software eating the world."

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