Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Building A Sound E-Learning Strategy

I guess it is not surprising that companies and organizations simply throw up their hands and choose E-Learning that is free or low cost and generally not very effective. They have been forced by government regulations to comply with such mandated training as Health & Safety, Accessibility (AODA) Privacy and more. Most organizations have not seen the writing on the wall yet...that training, will become increasingly important to their survival.

Getting mandatory training at a low cost makes good business sense today, especially when you consider the limited likelihood of government regulators knocking on your door to check up on you or the fact that the recent recession has created a labour glut with many university skilled workers available at low wages.

The lack of learning strategy within most organizations  has reinforced  the lack of importance that training has in North American businesses. Managers and employees don't really have a vested interest in training until it is something that effects their livelihood (from an employee point of view), or it represents unacceptable risk (from an employers point of view).  As long as the information is accurate, who cares if employees and employers actually understand the concepts and can put them into action. The reasons for poor training implementation and support range from, "I can get that for free on the interment" to "I don't understand the Technology" or "lets do a webinar."

Training and in particular E-Learning in the coming years will be a clear point of differentiation for successful companies who build a long term strategy  that values knowledge and learning. New skills, upgrading existing skills, alternate skills and compliance training will all become an important part of a more flexible and diverse workforce for any company.

A well trained workforce will have to be cost effective as a result of a more transient workforce. Cost and demands of training workers will increase with greater staff turnover. Looming shortages in skilled workers, increasingly complex skills sets and greater  knowledge requirements for technology solutions will place great demands on worker skills. This along with an aging population to service will create increasing shortages in skilled labour.

An organization's  success will be measured by its ability to adapt, grow and learn in a rapidly changing free-market economy. Employing an "early days" sound learning strategy will add to the value of an organization and allow it to outperform its competitors.

What does a sound learning strategy look like today? It will take the form of "baby steps", or pilot projects where companies and organizations identify key topics that require rapid learning, complex learning or flexible learning to respond to changing client demands. Developing a pilot project based on an identified need and seeking turn-key solutions will allow organizations to test their learning and grow that solution over time to address its ongoing needs. It also involves  the learners who will play an important role in shaping the strategy with their feedback.

Many organizations today, because of their lack of understanding of E-Learning, are seeking a "technology" solution rather than a "content" solution. Its my opinion that E-Learning technology, as it stands, is reasonably mature from a technical stand point since most companies providing such services are large and well equipped to develop the required technology and tools sets. What is lacking for the most important part ...a focus on content  and ensuring that what is being what's being learned! This demands a very different skill set that most organizations  do not understand, a media savvy production partner that has an in-depth understanding of the technology wrapper for E-Learning, and who can consult on a wide range of E-Learning strategy issues..

PDFs, web sites, webinars, online videos and simple E-Learning content are generally ineffective as primary content in E Learning because they approach learning in a traditional way and seek to use linear media. An E- Learning strategy must build its content from the ground up. It may use existing media and content  under the guidance of a subject matter expert but whether its blended learning or self paced learning a sound strategy seeks to take advantage of the best that E-Learning has to offer.

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