One of the issues that has become clearer, firstly at the conference, and subsequently through these discussions, is that most of us already accept that "learning technologies" can generate real business/ public value. Our big challenge is "how can we convert the unconverted"?
Anyone got any ideas?
Alan - is it a matter of 'converting' people, or of getting managers and executives more involved? It strikes me that there is sometimes too much of a gap between the world of L&D and what happens in the rest of the organisation. I would love a session - not necessarily at the conference, it could be a separate event - called "Bring your Boss", where we try to spread the word about what good L&D is, and how technology can support it.
Is it "converting" or getting senior level involvement? To my mind (which demonstrates my weak drafting!) I believe it's one and the same thing! And although I agree with the "Bring the Boss" sentiment, my concern would be that the boss may well be in L&D or HR - and I believe I was looking more at IT and other Business Unit bosses than L&D management per se.
To my mind, we need to both show the art of the possible (firstly to get overcome the scepticism, and secondly to create vision).
But what do others think?
You raise an interesting point - which lends itself to many areas of business not just learning technologies, and I suppose we have to use the techniques we utilise to solve these business wide challenges with that of learning technologies 'conversion/buy in'. I include in that things like: reasoned argument, cost/benefits, proof of concept, solving a business requirement, finding a LT champion with 'clout'!!. I've used these and others (a sort of 'guided discovery' method) to try and as you say convert a number of sceptical/unconverted individuals - but the best way has been to prove by solving a business requirement for those other business unit bosses, just how good and useful learning technologies are.
True - but I don't think we can go as far as solving the problem in a one day conference!!!! Although you do raise the question - does it have to be a conference?
The other point that you imply is that the first step is how do we earn the right to try to solve a business problem? And perhaps that could be done in collaborative groups - especially where there is a commonality in the problem we're looking to solve.
Does anyone have other thoughts? Where can we find some "low hanging fruit" on which we can demonstrate the ability to solve the problem?
One approach might be to have a couple of sessions with dual presenters - an L&D person and the business manager whose problem the learning solution met. Each could give their perspective, talk about the role they and their teams played, what worked, what could have been done better etc. Maybe even provide a formal structure to ensure the 'business end' of the story is explained clearly. e.g. business problem explained by business manager; learning solution explained by L&D manager, ROI/ROE output explained by business manager.
Maybe even get a 'tame' business leader to chair a session or two - with some discussion points after presentations.
I am always so cautious about making this point but my experience is that there are still so many people whose basic IT skills are so low that they are essentially excluded. It's very easy for a huge gap to appear and then I think fear sets in. Research also shows that badly implemented learning technologies have a strong detrimental effect on students too.
All the skills required to use technologies are basically the same, it seems that it's giving staff an incentive, time and the confidence to pick up new skills that's tricky. Then we come to the many arguments such as rewards for innovative work, strategic implementation plans, the whole from above Vs from below thing...
I totally agree with this - and I would also add that you need to take into account technical hurdles. I work in education and it's fairly easy to inspire people to want to engage in e-learning but providing the skills and making sure that, for example, everybody can view Flash files and PDFs (from wherever they wish to do their e-learning) is a far bigger challenge!
Possibly the learning technology community as a whole needs to make as much of an effort to understand the basics of business in return for it "expecting" business to become interested in learning technologies i.e.for those learning technologists who do not yet have these skills, gaining some basic domain knowledge in finance, law,marketing etc. may aid their cause and clout. Increasingly I feel one cannot rely on purley on IT/elearning technical skills alone to make an impact and develop a career. Possibly the whole education system and professional bodies need to catch up with this.
I think a lot depend on the culture & the size of the organisations/business. For large organisations I would tend to agree with Darrell’s views. From my experience the key step to convert the unconverted is to start by engaging top management. To do this you have to first “Build it and they will come” i.e. have a clear e-Learning strategy document with an implementation & communication plan. Highlighting specific areas for action and those likely to be responsible to take it forward. Best in a draft form first and use this document to open up the debate, with key senior management. The strategy helps to set the agenda, gain commitment, ownership at a high level i.e. ‘give it some clout’ and also gain the resources necessary to support the learning & engagement process. Without a clear framework, ‘vision’ and the quality & technology infrastructure it is difficult to gain any kind of engagement, both from the learner or the management.
How do you get managers on board? (Converting the Unconverted)
“What’s all this hype about e-Learning? People need to have bums in seats within a structured environment to learn. E-learning is nothing more than a page turning exercise that adds very little return on investment to the business. Virtual learning environments are expensive to develop and manage.” These are just a few negative responses one may have received or envisage receiving from their manager when proposing an e-Learning solution within your organisation.
Converting the unconverted can be a difficult depending on the organisation, manager, demographics of your audience, technology challenges and/or SMEs.
Let’s reflect – Lewis Hamilton has a console available at the start of each race. Is he watching the latest news or familiarising via emulation of the current track and environmental conditions? I would suggest that the McLaren F1 Team have invested significantly into an e-Learning solution.
Aspiring and seasoned pilots used Flt Sim 2008; familiarising themselves to specific aircraft configurations and airport terrains/conditions/restrictions. This is another excellent example of an e-Learning solution.
Engineers utilise 3D models to visualise and articulate internal component assembly, installation and operation. 3D models are recycled and used to train those responsible for intricate and precision assembly of components.
There is a plethora of e-Learning solutions available in the market today – what is your niche requirement?
• Do your homework before approaching your manager
• Understand the ROI of converting classroom media to eLearning
oCost savings (Travel Expenses, Publication Costs, Sundry, etc)
oResources: Administrator, Co-ordinator, Classrooms, Facilitator (s)
•Have tangible examples available to demonstrate the potential benefits of eLearning. Remember – there are many formats to choose from and are under the umbrella of eLearning: Mobile Learning (Smart Phones, PDAs), Podcasts, CD ROM, Web Browser (Intranet), Virtual Classrooms, Gaming Consoles, etc.
•Understand the metrics and how eLearning programmes will be measured against the business and staff performance
•Compromise: Suggest a Blended Learning approach that promotes both solutions
•Understand Key Learning Objectives e.g. Knowledge Based, Performance Based or Both
•Understand expected levels of proficiencies at the completion of training and how these metrics are going to be tracked
•Understand the jargon html, xml, SCORM, LMS, LCMS, CMI, Asset Based, Paged Based, Single Source, Manifest files, SCORM Wrapper, FLA, SWF, Scalability, Traceability ...
•Seek professional advice/consultation at the forefront of your project
oAccomplish robust TNA
oAccomplish PDR (Preliminary Design Review); acquiring a taster of what your eLearning solution will look & feel like
oFund Critical Design Review; De-risk architectural design at the beginning and test on proposed hosted service