Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What would I do better...

(Response to the the Learning Circuits blog's big question for April 2008: What would you like to do better as a learning Professional?)

I have a huge wish list but would like to condense it slightly for the benefit of my reader’s

You’ll observe the use of the word “facilitated” in my post. I use it simply because of the scope of my job function. While I have a sound knowledge of the e-learning industry (tools, technology, methods, strategy) I’m not an Instructional designer and as such would include different functions on the path to better manage the learning requirement of a corporate.

So here it goes….

I would like to consult better with my customers in order to solve their business/training need. More often then not, a corporate would come to us with a defined training requirement. As a business consultant, I would like to facilitate the process of validating the requirement from a learner’s perspective which could lead to better effectiveness of training.

Learning development process, if I go by the “ADDIE” model, has some areas that can be done better. “Analysis” can get more detailed and task oriented by asking the right questions which could further tie into the end “Evaluation” phase across all levels of assessing training effectiveness as defined by
Donald Kirkpatrick. In the e-learning industry, I see a lack of effort spent on the process of capturing post training feedback/effectiveness and feeding knowledge back into the learning and performance system to revise the learning strategy. This cyclic process also needs to include two other important factors: 1) changing business needs 2) change in the way a learner learns.

Another area that I could better manage is related to the newer trends in e-learning. We all have spoken extensively about web 2.0, e-learning 2.0, Immersive Learning Simulations (ILS), Mlearning, and Game Based Learning. All this talk and the availability of this information influence the customer’s expectations and needs. While I would never doubt the power of engagement and effectiveness of some of these approaches, the real question to answer over here is “are they applicable for every learning need”. The other aspect is the cost and timelines related to some of these new trends which are much higher. As
Tony Karrer very correctly pointed out in one of his post:
Expenditure on training has a limit on the performance gains you can achieve. After a certain point, the cost of the Training exceeds the value of the performance gains.

So, the real challenge posed by the Big Question is knowing when it’s really worth it to spend dollars on what we might consider a higher quality solution than providing something simpler that we know won't be as effective at improving performance.

The need of the hour is to better manage these expectations, and consult with the customer to deploy an approach which is relevant keeping in mind, the content, the training need and most importantly the learner.

Increase in the business pace across geographies, requires all the other support arms of the business to run at equal speed. Workforce - Learning and development is one such important arm that needs constant focus as the gap between learning and implementing for today’s learner is shrinking day by day. This has made Learning professionals think out of the box while brainstorming on formal learning solutions. Areas like workflow embedded learning, performance support systems, reference web sites, JIT, online job aids have helped the learner’s stay on top of the ever changing business needs. I want to do better in this service line for my customer’s.

At the end, I come to one of my favorite topics, “Rapid Learning”. There is this general thought across corporate training managers or custodians of L&D in an organization that Rapid learning effort may not deliver a high quality product, as quality to them would only mean approaches like highly engaging interactivities or graphic intensive courses. I would definitely like to better explain this concept to my customers. In the context of learning as a service, Quality can be defined as a product which delivers a great learning experience, covers the right objectives, ensures retention and measures a high effectiveness quotient across the evaluation phase. Rapid approach is more connected to the way you would plan development across repeated tasks (templates) and covers the time and cost aspects of the program. Quality, time and cost are like three sliders of a panel. Quality is constant (always on the max side of the slider) while cost and time are variables and will depend upon the overall requirements.

These are just some of my thoughts that I feel can be done better. I hope to start a conversation over here which will build upon these areas and help all of us to learn more...