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10 Tips for Enhancing the Learner Journey

Bob Little 

May 13, 2016

Arguably, L&D professionals have never had it so good. Thanks to today’s technology, more people than ever before can learn more things, as and when they want to.

Yet all isn’t well in the professional L&D world. The seemingly endless access to available learning is raising issues about the validity, effectiveness and “measurability” of all that learning.

Before the Second World War, “non-classroom-delivered learning” happened via books, the “correspondence course,” or colleagues’ on-the-job advice (which was probably of variable quality – as, indeed, were correspondence courses and even some books). In the U.S., in the 1940s, Bawden and Buffy produced training films – which allowed “see-and-learn” training to be delivered remotely.

Computer-based learning began in the 1960s (via mainframes) and, 30 years or so later, the Internet’s appearance increased general access to remote, technologically-delivered learning materials. Increasingly, learning materials are now being viewed via a range of mobile devices and most learning happens informally (perhaps via Google or YouTube rather than via a classroom session) – as described in the 70:20:10 framework.

Now that history has brought us to where we are, the key issue – among many – 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. Determining that strategy is further complicated by the advent of millennials into the workforce – with their preference for collaborative and mobile learning (via Google and YouTube, for example), as well as their interest in learning via playing games and engaging in all the other aspects of gamification.

In addition, you need to get your organization’s learning management system (LMS) to monitor and record offline and informal learning episodes – to maintain and manage accurate learning and skills competency records. So it’s easy to see why the L&D professional’s role isn’t as straightforward as it was when only formal, classroom-delivered and intranet-delivered online learning “counted” for corporate knowledge and skills purposes.

To be successful today, here are 10 key things to do, involving your LMS:

  • Reinforce your organization’s brand through the LMS’s look and feel. Get your marketing and graphics teams to supply appropriate logos, brand names and corporate colors for your online learning materials. Design your learning materials so that, by their language and tone, they reinforce corporate 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, you could set out references to curated – that is, recommended – learning materials. In addition, since learning isn’t just about e-learning, allow users to book face-to-face and virtual meetings (for coaching, training and so on) via the LMS portal – so that the LMS has a record of that session.
  • Ensure your LMS can cope with offline and multi-device accessed learning. With learning now being delivered via a range of devices, in many places (not just “at work”), and even downloaded online to be worked on offline, your LMS must cope with, monitor and manage all of these delivery options. If it can’t, then think seriously about changing your LMS to one that can cope with the 21st century.
  • Build, and monitor, blogs behind your 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. The LMS needs to be used. That means constantly and consistently promoting learning via your organization’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, juxtaposed with your organization’s performance data, this can indicate such things as how appropriate and effective the learning materials are for the learners, as well as the relative popularity of learning materials and even learning delivery methods. Armed with this – and other LMS-generated – data, you can amend the learning materials and activities available to meet your organization’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, “workplace discussions”)

Technology is merely an enabler of the learning process – however “shiny,” modern and complex it is. To encourage any learning, but especially informal learning, you – as an L&D professional – 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 U.S.-based, internationally recognized training designer Cathy Moore, “By putting a measurable business goal — a high-level evaluation — first and making it the center of everything we do, we publicly commit to improving our organization’s performance and demonstrate our value.” Her Action Mapping approach helps identify the key levers — knowledge, skills, motivation, or the environment — that 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 you can’t structure or schedule social learning, you can seed it by providing value on social learning platforms. This could include using the platform to distribute key resources and information via video selfies (“velfies”), and leading discussions that address issues of concern.
  • Empower line managers to promote and encourage learning among their teams.
  • Don’t forget formal learning – as a basic support for your organization’s entire learning culture.

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One comment on “10 Tips for Enhancing the Learner Journey”:

  1. Boniface J.Akwanya wrote:

    I have enjoyed this article more than i could think of it. Its amazing please send me the article regarding school management design and system that will help me set goals to my teachers in a secondary school in Tanzania. Its true that we don’t learn from experience as most of us has always put it,today i have got the true quality of Mind tools.

    Bravooo!!