As learning has spread beyond the classroom through new technologies into organizations, businesses and associations, each has had to take on the responsibility of creating their own unique learning environment and administrative implementation model. Self-paced eLearning, blended eLearning and online learning have created a demand within these organizations to commit resources to develop an learning strategy that incorporates program levels & descriptions, performance monitoring, content development, audience surveys, testing, tracking & reporting, promotions and budgeting.
Unfortunately, these demands have resulted in a very uneven and fragmented implementation process that has not benefited the organization or its employees. Here are a few examples of some of the incomplete and ineffective learning strategies that I have encountered in the marketplace, as organizations and companies try and implement a learning strategy.
The Layered Approach: learning approaches are layered one on top of the other. The organization uses workshops, conferences, webinars, eLearning and teleconferences without assessing the effectiveness of each medium. No overarching strategic Learning plan has been developed that links effectiveness, audience demands, learning objectives to results and budgets.
One-Off Solution: when an organization looks at an individual learning initiative in isolation and develops a onetime solution that addresses the issue in the short term. This can lead to a layered approach that creates higher costs and ineffective application of learning and/or poorly understood learning outcomes within companies. You can utilize multiple learning delivery mechanisms including eLearning and workshops if they are vetted through an overarching Learning strategy and budget rationalization process.
Off -The-Shelf Solution: this occurs when an organization lacks capacity to implement learning through its own resources yet has developed a learning strategy at a senior management level. This top down approach may not consider both short term and long term impact. Short term financial gains may blind a company to the demands of administrative oversight in the learning process - so the company hires a contractor to fulfill short term demands.
The Technology Approach: when an organization seeks to fulfill its learning mandate by implementing some form of technology without a clear long term plan to utilize it effectively. An example might be an organization purchasing a Learning Management System (LMS) without content, or without a clear understanding of audience demands and or the need to allocate long term resources to administering the organizational learning process.
The Do Nothing Plan: “if it works don’t fix it”, a common axiom that doesn’t ring true in this circumstance. Many organizations ignore the need for a learning strategy and simply opt to use the mediums and strategies that have been in place historically. They may lack the resources to deliver learning more efficiently through such mediums as eLearning and as a result they become less competitive and have greater employee turnover.
The reason for many of these fragmented and ineffective implementation strategies is that most organizations do not have the in-house knowledge and experience necessary to undertake a thorough learning review. A company does not commit the resources to help understand how they can create learning environments that make use of best practice across a variety of learning mediums to improve performance and capacity …and all within budget. They often rely on a mixed bag of external resources to guide them and when the process is complete the organization has not internalized the knowledge necessary to effectively implement a learning program that gets results.
When this organizational knowledge transfer does not take place there is no consistent administrative body or champion within most organizations that has the capacity to enforce learning objectives, make a case for learning and learning budgets and ensure that the learning has an impact on the effectiveness of both the employees and the organization. Most administrators are simply overwhelmed or simply unprepared to implement online learning and lack the tools and support to undertake the initiative.
In the final summation, what is the purpose of training, if not to improve both personal and organization performance and capacity?