How do you implement an online management development site?

Hi everyone.  As part of a new Management Development Programme within our organisation, we're hoping to develop an online site, where our managers could learn more about relevant subjects.  We're planning to include learning material such as articles, bitesize e-learning modules, expert interview videos and user forums. I would appreciate thoughts from people who have been involved in developing this kind of a site (or have used this type of sites as an end-user), with regards to how succesfull it was of achieving its objectives. In particular the following questions:

- Would you make the reading material mandatory/self serve? (the fear of self serve type learning might get ignored totally)

- How do you encourage managers to keep using the site?

- Does features like open forums work within organisations to improve management development?

- What type of evaluation have you used in assessing the success of such a site?

And ofcourse any other tips which you can share with me would be more than welcome.

Thanks in advance.

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Hi there. Kineo has a great case study on the subject: http://kineo.com/sv/retail-consumer-goods-case-studies/line-manager...

/Henrik

Thanks for the link Henrik.  The case study had some really good tips that I can use.  Especially the fact that they've designed their online learning as quick references to be used in day-to-day situations, would be a great motivator for the users to keep using the site.

Yes, it's those last 70% learning on-the-job we're all looking for to facilitate, aren't we? :-) Bite sized information modules instead of "courses" (is there really anything more than e-lessons?) will be more used as in-time performance support tools than formal learning which I think integrate better to the informal on-the-job training.

Important as well is to facilitate easy commenting on the content. Like, for example, "Hey I found out that the info in this PDF/brochure/E-learning really works today! When I...". You have to enable sharing of best practices and success stories from using the material.

Another good point you made on facilitating easy commenting on content. This is something we're looking to implement (together with Forums) as part of the site. With the little research I've done so far, I learnt that these "commenting" options would be one of the best ways to evaluate the success/effectiveness of each article/e-learning.

On the flip side, I suspect that these interactive tools (web 2.0... as they call it) would also be the hardest to get authorised by senior management and IT teams, because of all the risks and fear around them. I just watched the recorded LSG webinar by Mark Oehlert (aptly named 'Fear and loathing in social media'), which was really good.

http://learningandskillsgroup.ning.com/forum/topics/june-27th-fear-...

Do you have any experience tackling those challenges?

Well no, but as he said on his seminar this "fear" is pretty mistargeted anyhow. Why would it be scary to show employees names next to a comment? By actually entering a comment one could argue that the person writing it would sign off on showing his/her name on the comment itself. Thereby agreeing to not be anonymous. As long as the site is all internal you shouldn't have any problem I hope. Aren't your employees allowed to talk to each other? ;-)

Spot on Henrik. Thanks for your help.

No problem!

I wish you well on your implementation!

/H

A few points from me:

Focus on self-service - if it works they will use it.

Encourage 'learning from each other'. Recognition of those who contribute will help here and maybe some simple gamification tricks (such as this month's top contributor).

Seed the site with some created content but keeping this up to date will be unsustainable unless you have a big budget or lots of content people. 

Use curation (links to external resources and activities) 

Encourage comments, rating, liking - this really helps drive usage (there's nothing worse than a community that's deserted)

In the early days facilitate, facilitate, facilitate until it achieves flying speed.

The problem is what platform to use. An LMS represents the 'old way' while a social learning platform such as Yammer the 'new way'. Ideally you need a bit of both! We are doing a mash-up of both with one client but its not a perfect solution.

Would be keen to know what platform/approach you finally go with.

Thanks for a great list of suggestions John.

I guess the motivation for 'self-service' will come from other methods you've mentioned like 'learning from each other' and 'comments, rating, liking'.

The idea of 'this month's top contributor' is excellent (we'll defenitely adopt that) and would love to hear more about other gamification tricks that you may have used.

With regards to the question of 'Which system to use'... we do have an LMS within the organisation, but as you correctly said it is pretty much designed for the 'old way'. So I'm currently considering building this site using WordPress, which has most of those functions of a social learning platform.

Interesting to see why you've mentioned "Ideally you need a bit of both"... I wonder whether you were referring here to the tracking capabilities of an LMS. If so, this is a question that I'm pondering at the moment... "How would the concept of Self-serve work if the learners know that the L&D team is tracking their activity?". Have you got any thoughts on that?

Thanks again for your valuable input John... and yes I will be more than happy to let you know what platform/approach we will finally go with.

Susith,

The LMS is good for presenting a learning pathway that has been 'designed' (the formal learning element) but it should be possible to develop a structured pathway in another platform such as WordPress. Might also be good to look at http://buddypress.org/.

Of course organisations love LMS' because they provide evidence of learning (via the tracking features) but for me engagement followed by results speak much louder than tracking stats.

Yup I totally agree with you about the importance of structured learning plans. Especially within an organisation there are some topics, which best sit as a formal step by step learning process. I haven't dived deeply enough into WordPress capabilities yet to see if it could do this out of the box, but I'm sure there's ways to present such a structure.

The problem is indeed if the training must be tracked. In such cases I guess I'd have no other choice than referring the users back to the LMS. The new upgrade work they are doing to the SCORM model seems very interesting where in future learning material could be tracked outside the LMS. But who knows when our LMS providers will start supporting that version of SCORM. I guess we'd have to use 'work arounds' until then.

Thanks for the pointer about Buddypress. It does seem like a plugin to be used in a WordPress site, but I will look into it.

Yes ADL has launched the Tin Can API to enable tracking of learning activities beyond the LMS but I'm not sure this is the solution we are looking for if the learner is going to have greater autonomy over what learning they choose to do. 

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