This month’s Big Question on the Learning Circuits Blog asks ‘What new skills and knowledge are required for learning professionals?’
I suspect a lot of the X 2.0 discussions have within themselves elements of Web 2.0. Instantiating Learning for X, we also notice the same shades.
Where things get skewed is the tendency to look at learning 2.0 through the narrow lenses of Web 2.0 technologies. Tim O’Reilly’s "What is Web 2.0?" talks about the "customers are building your businesses for you" – it is important to harness user generated content to extract business value.
If we look beyond Web 2.0 technologies and focus on learning , let us see how learners are participating in creating content FOR L&D, and what skills are required to focus on to facilitate that? I purposely talk about focus, and not learn as these are not necessarily new skills – Clive Shephard mentions that in his post on this topic.
Fundamentals Have not Changed
Dr. Gart Woodill in an article written in 2004, titled "Where is the learning in eLearning?…" write about the need to address the two fundamental questions of who and what. That has not changed. Jay Cross mentions in his post of the need to be able to sit with your sponsors within your organizations and understand these questions.
In these "who" meetings it is important to be able to understand what is the profile of the target audience not simply in terms of demographics, but also in terms of how the training is going to be a win for the learner. For example, lot of the compliance training is primarily looked upon as a check box item in an organization. Would it not be a lot more engaging if the learner was educated on the relevancy of the compliance in their work, and not asked to take because some senator-congressman pair called Sarbanes and Oxley has mandated them to do so. Part of the "who" questionnaire needs to consider the "when" question – when will the training be accessed (office, on the road, customer site etc.).
The when and the who will define how the learning will be delivered. It is here I liked the post by Karyn Romeis, where she makes a good case for not biting ones tongue in meetings with the stakeholders, but be able to weigh in with suggestions on the pros and cons of possible designs and modes of deployment.
Recession Driven Opportunity
When i meet folks, a lot of the talk of late has been around doing how do we stretch the learning dollar. On the expense side there has been talk around doing more eLearning, and then more rapid eLearning. This seems to be the discussion having more traction – because it gives the L&D something to do all by themselves.
Feedback – Insist on It
The more difficult one is to be able to make an impact on the revenue side of things. While difficult , this has a better chance of creating "learning culture" the lack of which we often lament.
So how do we do it? Insist that once we have created the training (to the best of our ability and based on the information gathered), we need to put in place practices which will track whether it actually worked in real life and delivered the benefits it was supposed to deliver.
The involvement of the L&D does not stop at the delivery/deployment of training. L&D departments must educate and insist that line managers provide proper feedback on the training efficacy, so that future projects (or sometime current projects) can be created keeping these learnings in mind. A SOX training in an Accounts department does not reduce the number of SOX audit queries is not delivering the goods. Similarly, if the number of meetings ending without decisions continue to rise then the training on "Having difficult discussions" possibly did not have the necessary impact.
Too often courses are deployed in one department to another without taking due advantage of feedback from the earlier departments. So boxes get checked without any impact on business. And we know what happens to budgets that do not have any benefits associated with it.
Do not expect the line managers to always come with the feedback metrics (audit reports, indecisive meeting count etc.). The learning professional may have to discover this in conjunction with the line managers. If there is none, the training is possibly not worth anyone’s time. So be ready to walk away!
If you are not harnessing customer feedback, you are not letting then them build your business. And that is simply not Learning 2.0.