By guest contributor, Katrina Baker, elearning consultant & author, LMS Success
Recently, I had an opportunity to lead a discussion on corporate learning technology at the Expertus customer summit. This event was special for me because it brought me face-to-face with a group of training managers and administrators who are genuinely committed to transforming the way learning happens in their organizations.
The spirit of the session was refreshingly collaborative. Everyone openly shared their experiences and ideas about a variety of technology topics. As the discussion rolled along, participants built on others’ ideas — taking them to the next level. What came out of our session was a condensed, practical summary of how learning technology is utilized across many industries today.
Five points stand out in my mind:
1) There is no “right” way to use learning technology.
A learning management system can play a myriad of roles in an organization. For example, some companies want to deliver most of their leadership courses in person, while offering compliance courses online. Other companies incorporate e-learning across their course catalog. Every organization has a unique culture. It’s important for learning technology to fit-in with that culture.
Also, like every other aspect of an organization, culture changes over time. That means your approach to e-learning will change, too. But don’t depend on LMS innovation alone to determine your direction. Instead, focus on understanding your evolving business needs — then consider how new technology can support those goals.
2) It’s okay to build training programs slowly and carefully.
Because learning tools and technology have become so robust and flexible, it can be tempting to use e-learning as the go-to solution for every training need. However, that may not be the ideal choice.
A simple approach can be good. It’s okay to use e-learning to address small, well-defined topics, and build upon those successes. The world of e-learning is constantly expanding, and trainers have many options. Simplicity is required to create effective courses, and ultimately, effective training initiatives. Use prototypes and pilot programs to test your assumptions along the way.
Sometimes, blended content may the best learning strategy. Blended learning can include traditional classroom instruction as well as online elements. But even a 100% online course can be blended! If requirements call for immersive methods, why not blend multiple online content formats — such as videos, virtual classes and game-based logic — into a single high-impact course or learning track?
If your training program needs to reach your entire workforce, customer base or business partner network, you’ll need highly adaptive content and delivery methods. Nearly all training programs include structured elements, such as mandatory courses, prerequisites and learning tracks. But electives are as important as mandatory courses, because these options allow learners to address their own skills and knowledge gaps on a personalized basis.
Continuously seek training ideas and feedback. Proactively develop and market elective courses. And find meaningful ways to give learners credit when you create content based on their ideas.
3) Downtime is part of today’s reality. Be prepared.
Technology is embedded in every aspect of business. But occasionally, technology fails. A network connection can be lost. A server can become temporarily unavailable. You can’t always prevent these issues, but you can plan for them.
Rather than trying to eliminate the possibility of failure, it’s wise to identify ways to minimize disruption when trouble strikes, and communicate backup methods in advance. For example, it’s vital for internal and external learners to know who they can contact for support if technical issues arise. It’s also important to develop multiple ways to deliver content — or recover lost data — In the event of a technology failure. For example, if you deliver online compliance courses that must be completed by a specific date, keep copies of course content on multiple servers. If one server fails, you can point your LMS to the same content on another server. It’s also smart to keep a paper version of course material.
4) Marketing is half the battle.
Training departments are so busy designing, building and delivering courses that sometimes we forget to tell others in our organization what we’re working on. But the success of any training program is partly determined by how many people benefit from participating. Others have a need to know — so don’t be shy.
Advertise new e-learning courses through email and posters. Leverage word of mouth and other existing communication channels. Ask for help in marketing content to your learning audience. And be sure to allocate adequate funding for marketing in your program budget.
As your organization develops training programs for internal and external audiences, it may be appropriate to tangibly link training initiatives to metrics like employee performance, partner financial success or customer loyalty. For example, with workforce learning initiatives, incorporating training plans and transcripts into job objectives and evaluations can reinforce your company’s commitment to employee development. Or perhaps before an employee can be promoted to a supervisor or manager position, specific leadership and communication courses should be required.
5) Talk with non-trainers about how they can benefit from your learning management system.
Sometimes we forget that people outside of the training department don’t know about the benefits an LMS can offer. It often pays to remind others what your LMS can help them achieve, so you can be more effective in supporting their learning objectives. For example, with employee training, it can help for leaders across your company to understand that a modern LMS can:
• Scale rapidly, to deliver global training that keeps your organization ahead of product launches and hiring growth.
• Auto-assign a curriculum for new employees, so they can immediately start learning, and easily stay on-track over time.
• Make it remarkably easy for employees and their managers to find and enroll in relevant e-learning activities and upcoming instructor-led classes.
• Ensure that compliance courses (such as harassment training) are automatically assigned and completed on time, from any device.
• Provide personalized notifications and customized reports that help managers keep their finger on the pulse of training status and results across their organization.
What are your thoughts? Is this advice consistent with your point of view on LMS technology in today’s business environments? What else would you add? Please continue the discussion by commenting below.
About The Author: Thanks to our guest contributor, Katrina Baker. Katrina is an independent e-learning consultant and Director of Technology at ATD Los Angeles. She has published two popular reference books: LMS Success and The LMS Selection Checklist. She also hosts the LinkedIn group, Learning Management System Administrators, designed specifically for training operations and technology professionals. You can contact Katrina directly on LinkedIn or on Twitter.
Photo credits: Pixabay