Kate Carter and Bob Little | 28-Mar-2019 11:10:00
Thanks to technology, more people than ever before can learn more things, as and when they want. Increasingly, learning materials are being viewed via a range of mobile devices; gamification within the learning experience is gaining in popularity, and most learning now happens informally - perhaps via Google or YouTube rather than via a classroom session.
While this seems like learning – and performance support – nirvana for learners, the seemingly endless access to learning materials raises issues for L&D professionals and employers about the validity, effectiveness and “measurability” of all that learning.
In particular, a key issue for L&D professionals is how to “blend” all the learning delivery methods now available to create an effective learner journey to enlightenment and competence. This is especially important since many current learning management systems (LMS) find it a challenge to monitor and record offline and informal learning episodes. Yet L&D professionals want to know about informal learning so that they can maintain and manage accurate learning and skills competency records.
Ten things to do with an LMS
To be successful today, L&D professionals should do ten key things, involving their LMS:
- Reinforce the organisation’s brand through the LMS’s look and feel. Get in-house marketing and graphics teams to supply appropriate logos, brand names and corporate colours for the organisation’s online learning materials. Engage in Learning support teams use in-house experts to customise the look and feel of your LMS so that is reflects your brand values.
- Build a learning community. Use the LMS to encourage learners to be self-directed and self-managed in their informal learning. As part of this process, set out references to curated learning materials. In addition, since learning isn’t just about e-learning (excellent though it can be), allow users to book face-to-face and virtual meetings (for coaching, mentoring and so on) via the LMS portal – so that the LMS has a record of that session. The Totara Learn platform support training administration such as seminars or classroom learning.
- Ensure your LMS can cope with offline and multi-device accessed learning. It is wise to include some learning materials that can be downloaded for working on offline - such as eBooks. All of the Engage in Learning courses have a downloadable eBook and we also have the Bookboon eBook library. (Microlearning)
- Build – and monitor – blogs behind the corporate firewall – to enable and encourage collaborative learning.
- Use gamification features – including badges and league tables to encourage learning.
- Identify key audiences / users – and use the LMS’s tracking and reporting facilities to assess whether the learning is reaching the intended audience(s).
- Promote the learning materials. Constantly and consistently promote learning via the organisation’s internal communications processes. Continual marketing is a key to success in life – including promoting L&D activities.
- Seek feedback – on learning materials’ quality and usefulness, to discover what learning is “working” - and what isn’t.
- Respond – to the management information that the LMS produces. The LMS should provide data and, compared with the organisation’s performance data, this can indicate such things as how appropriate and effective the learning materials are for the learners, along with the relative popularity of learning materials - and even learning delivery methods. Armed with this – and other LMS-generated – data, L&D professionals can amend the learning materials and activities available to meet the organisation’s learning needs more accurately.
- Develop a learning ecosystem. Today’s L&D space involves increasingly complex interactions and continual change – hence the need for an “ecosystem”, in which the LMS is just one of the tools. This ecosystem can include:
- People (managers, peers, mentors, coaches)
- Performance tools (checklists, quick reference guides)
- Processes (six sigma, kaizen)
- Formal learning elements (micro videos, webinars, workshops)
- Social networks
- Technology platforms (LMS, wikis, intranets)
- Informal learning mechanisms (Google, YouTube, Clear Lessons video and “workplace discussions”)
Tips to encourage learning
To encourage any learning, but especially informal learning, L&D professionals need to:
- Empower learners to be proactive. This means keeping in mind such things as Keller’s ARCS model when designing and promoting learning materials and opportunities.
- Relate learning to business needs and performance. According to the US-based, internationally recognised training designer, Cathy Moore, “By putting a measurable business goal — a high-level evaluation — first and making it the centre of everything we do, we publicly commit to improving our organisation’s performance and demonstrate our value.” Moore’s Action Mapping approach helps identify which key levers - knowledge, skills, motivation or the environment - will impact on performance.
- Make space for reflection since, as the American philosopher, John Dewey, once said, “We don’t learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” Reflection can be triggered via journals, group/individual coaching, mentors, “win/learn/change” processes or elements of social learning. Three key phrases to aid reflection are to ask, “what have I done?”, “what would I do differently next time?” and “what is the key lesson from this?”
- Seed social learning. Although L&D professionals can’t structure or schedule social learning, they can seed it by providing value on social learning platforms. This could include using the platform to distribute key resources and information via video, and leading discussions that address issues of concern.
- Empower line managers to promote and encourage learning among their teams.
- Not forget formal learning – as a basic support for the organisation’s entire learning culture.