How to
Solve Learning & Development Problems for the Modern Learner

Jamie Kenison | 8 min read

Wisetail’s President, Ali Knapp & Learning Cluster Design’s CEO, Crystal Kadakia Answer the Top Training Questions

Wisetail sat down with our fearless leader, Ali Knapp and Crystal Kadakia, founder of Learning Cluster Design to discuss trends being seen in the learning and development (L&D) and learning experience design industries as learners evolve.

Ali is originally from Michigan where she earned a degree in Packaging Engineering at Michigan State. She began her career at Bausch & Lomb and held several positions at Hewlett Packard where she managed HP’s OEM division and coordinated projects for Fortune 500 clients, such as e-Health, Siemens, and Philips Ladies. That path landed her with Wisetail where she sits as our President today. 

Ali is joined by Crystal Kadkia. Crystal is a two-time TEDx speaker, CLO Best Learning In Practice award recipient, best-selling author of Designing for Modern Learning: Beyond ADDIE and SAM (ATD Publishing, 2020) and The Millennial Myth (Berrett-Koehler, 2017), and an OD consultant. She is the co-creator of the Owens-Kadakia Learning Cluster Design Model, a new model for designing learning that shows those designing learning how to move from one and done, one size fits all programs to the modern way of learning: “Learning Clusters” that surround learners with meaningful Learning Assets. Clients like Atlassian, Pepsi, General Mills, and the World Bank work with the LCD Group to grow their skills in the model and work with LCD Group’s consultants to solve modern learning challenges. Crystal has a bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering and a master’s in Organization Development.

We start off with advice from Ali.

Q: Ali, a big part of modern learning is tying learning to learner context. How do your clients organize content and make it feel “for me” for learners?

Ali answered: “As a society, we’re moving quickly and our learning methods need to keep up with that. Those times when you put out a piece of training content and you update it in two to three years are no longer efficient nor relevant anymore. Our clients have some of the most meaningful content from crowdsourcing. They have content sourced directly from their learners and from their community that resonates with their audience.”

“We have clients that have created short videos with phones and then directly uploaded them. Those videos are getting more views than anything else on the platform because people see them as authentic content coming directly from the field. When people post training content that they've read from different sources or pulled in from third parties, it can really enrich that overall learning experience as well.”

Q: Crystal, how does the LCD model help change on-the-job behavior?

Crystal elaborated: “In traditional L&D and most other learning design models, we focus on our learning goals and terminal objectives for the end of the class or course. What will the learner be able to do by the end of this video? By default, right from the start, we inherently limit our results. The moment you determine your goal is when you begin to shape the path to the solution and its related results.”

“The Learning Cluster Design (LCD) model takes a significant leap towards having a much greater impact by setting a new goal: to change on-the-job behavior. Not only is our goal different, but so is our process to meet that goal. We don't rely on a single class or course to change on-the-job behavior. The LCD model's default is to design more than one learning asset to change performance where it counts, back on the job. By designing a learning cluster, a smartly selected set of learning assets across media, times, and places, we beat the doubts around having an impact on the job. How do you design a learning cluster? The LCD model shows you how to do just that.”

Q: Ali, what skills and beliefs do your most successful, modern L&D clients hold?

Ali answered: “Our clients are constantly seeking improvement and are never completely satisfied with themselves. They are seeking to challenge themselves, and, most importantly, they do not follow trends. They do not look at the latest learning and development trends but rather at trends in technology and in growing industries for innovation. Our most successful clients see how they can use those trends to learn and apply them to their people-focused learning strategy. They are investing in technology and have lost the mentality of delivering a class. They are delivering an overall learning experience and gaining ROI on their strategies.”

Watch the full conversation between Ali and Crystal below!