Rebooting the Training Department

Average reading time: about 3 minutes.

In the the late 90s, the Training Department were sold on eLearning. Since then we’ve had an explosion of the socially connected web, a transformation in devices and access, thinner slices of attention, and the emergence of massive online learning environments.

Employees work and learn with better tools, and broader contexts than they did even five years ago. Has the Training Department kept up?

At Participo, we have a technology bias, and so armed with that bias and ‘lens’, here are some challenges we think the Training department face, with some themes for their (near) future, and a few opportunities for starting over.

It’s time for a reboot.

Challenge: Staying relevant in the age of Twitter

Expertise and information is flowing faster than course design can keep up. How should classrooms and content be designed in the age of ubiquitous search, 140 character messaging and thin-sliced attention spans?

Reboot: Mobile devices mean more than the end of Flash

Responding to the proliferation of mobile devices is a perfect opportunity to reboot the design of learning content.

And this is not just shoehorning desktop constructs into an ‘mLearning’ container-as-app, but tackling the deeper questions of how Tablets and Phones have changed the context in how employees regard and access content.

Tablet and Phone screens display less. How do reading styles differ on Tablets and Phones? How should this influence the design and display of content?

How does the attention model differ for Users on tablets and phones? Are employees more reflective and focused using a tablet or phone? Or are they ‘pecking’ at screens in snatched moments of time?

Theme: the measured Employee

If you write down every time you eat chocolate cake, over time, you eat less chocolate cake. Prius drivers, who see a live display of fuel consumption data, subtly modify their driving style to conserve fuel.

Measurement, and continual feedback loops create ongoing behavioural change. How could this approach improve knowledge work? What would a ‘self quantified employee’ do?
How could this improve training, and on-the-job performance support? What would be useful to measure?

More at:

Challenge: Lo-fi learning

Jay Cross argues 80% of learning is informal, but 90% of Training budgets are spent on the 20% that’s formal.
As training budgets get frozen or cut, what are the new approaches to delivery using existing teams, IT and capability.

One idea is ‘lo-fi’ learning –

Reboot: Data driven decisions and design

Data should be driving L&D decision making – from click-data in emails and eLearning to analysing reading times and retention levels from classrooms and content.

Collecting data is step 1, Acting on data is the second. A lot of L&D teams are just doing 1.

Challenge: Using IT-based collaboration effectively

How do we design learning to use IT systems more effectively?

There are significant, but often nebulous, bottom-line business benefits that existing collaboration software can deliver f0r L&D, but a strategic approach is needed to ‘bake in’ these systems to learning design.

Reboot: Vendors are not Think Tanks

Lots of L&D departments have project delivery expertise, but no ‘think tank’ capability.

As a result, their thinking and strategy are steered by vendors, who push expensive IT and/or content delivery (“don’t ask a coal company for energy saving ideas..”).

L&D teams need to learn to think for themselves again.

Challenge: classrooms as instigator

As well as the initial learning experience, classrooms create a group of disparate colleagues bought together by a unique (to them) shared experience.

There’s a great opportunity to ‘sweat the asset’ of expensive classroom interventions, and treat ex-‘pupils’ as an alumni network.

Challenge: the slow death of eLearning

If eLearning’s so great…why don’t customers do it?
eLearning takes time to build, time to consume and it’s time to change.

What’s the replacement?