Hi all- I work in an L&D department with technology professionals as my customer group. We have been using e-learning resources for some years now (specifically courseware and online library) but whilst some areas have embraced online learning with enthusiasm, other areas resist (mainly citing lack of time). The key is to embed e-learning into learning culture so it is not simply seen as the poor cousin of classroom training. I have made a start by running several Web-Ex demonstrations which have gone down very well but I would be interested in hearing any success stories of embedding e-learning into organisational learning culture...
In my experience there is a direct correlation between successful engagement on e-Learning and urgency of the skills need. The trick is to make e-Learning part of the solution rather than part of the problem. With technology professionals, you have a tricky group; i.e they won't always recognise that there is a skills need until it's too late! But they are a group that's used to collaboration, mutual support, and problem-solving. So I'd try and utilise that by facilitating communities of practice, knowledge domains, and collaboration programs for continuous skills development. Think of "e-Learning" in it's widest context and try to make specific competences as visible as possible. And remember, people don't know what they don't know - so if you can tie "e-Learning" to skills gain to performance in job you'll have it made! I accept - easier said than done! Good luck.
Lack of time is a popular theme! Sometimes genuine, in which case I will work with team leaders to work out how time can be freed up for developmental tasks - there's always a means. For example, how is staff utilisation worked out? When rolling out any form of training I always come across the 'can't spare this person' syndrome. When you look at the utilisation of the team it often turns out that the line manager has unrealistic expectations of what each individual can achieve in a day and doesn't allocate any time (or importance) to learning activities. This is an opportunity for coaching in itself. So, talk to / coach line managers on the benefits of allocating time for learning activities: improved skill means more efficient, means things get done faster and better. The fact that you are offering e-learning giveds them the advantage of flexibility as well, working around their deadlines instead of taking people away for days at a time.
Once that hurdle is overcome and line managers / team leaders are onside and willing to commit to the concept of e-learning and structurnig the work day around learning events, think about also getting them to commit to ensuring that time is used for learning and is not eaten into by other tasks. Quite often a line manager will pay lip service to the commitment but when push comes to shove the will isn't there - the project/work task becomes more urgent. It's frustrating gettnig beyond this point, but it is possible by coordinating with HR on how managers are measured in their appraisal reviews (and how this is cascaded down). EVERYONE must have a competency in their profile that is associated with personal commitment to learning - and in the case of managers commitment to the development of their staff. You can even work out a system with HR whereby people get quarterly or 6 monthly 'time credits' for achievement - an extra days holiday on that year for example because you assume they have saved at least twice that through performance improvement. In other words the return on investment to the business is better qualified staff. The return on investment for staff is reward in a currency they appreciate - time. Basically I don't think you can have a learning culture unless it is really driven from the top and perpetuated at all levels.
My team runs very very few classroom trainings nowadays - last months stats for the team show 3 days classroom vs. 39 Webex (with downloads of support materials and webex based tests completed after the training). All Webex sessions are offered at least twice live, and are recorded so that those who do miss them can go and watch retrospectively. In addition the team undertook 40 short telephone 'advisory' sessions and 18 one-to-one on the job coaching and assessment sessions. The asynchronous e-learning material we provide received 1500 hits with visits lasting between 5 minutes and 30 minutes. We have a 'captive' audience of 187 staff, last count. We also email regular 'hints and tips' to staff involved in different learning paths.
We have made the training accessible in as many methods as possible, and the content likewise is a combination of written, verbal, graphical (movies etc) with as much opportunity for interaction as can be sensibly included. The latest deliverable is a random question application created in Captivate that throws up a pertinent question whenever the individual logs on to their computer or PDA - one question each time they logon. That REALLY puts learning in their face.
Finally, we put a lot of effort into talking to everyone at least once a month. It's a huge effort but it pays off - a friendly nag goes a long way. The training team is committed and motivated to get the outcomes they are targetted to achieve - and of course they have their own personal development time set aside.
Some people go to it like a duck to water, others you have to drag kicking and screaming until they find out it's not as bad as they thought. Then again, there are others who will never drink at the well, regardless of how accountable you try to make them or how exposed they leave themselves in terms of your learninc culture.
Hi Emma, We have taken a strategic appraoach to embedding e-learning by:
- developing an e-learning strategy and get it endorced by senior management - given it a high profile
- make it part of the induction programme
- get managers & team leaders on board - to lead by example - promote their success stories
-collaboration - involving people from communication, I&T, HR + a whole bunch of other senior managers
- ensuring a whole range of support and feedback mechanisms & quality assurance
- promoting & celebrating success & rewarding those have succeeded etc
I dont know if this helps, If you are interested to know more you are welcome to contact me
-> Avoiding big announcements when courses are rolled out (where possible/not always practical). I am trying to keep away from an authoritarian approach and trying stealth tactics instead. When we roll out courses with urgent and undeniable needs (how to use the new video-conferencing facilities for example) we announce them and hopefully plant ideas of what is possible with e-learning and where to find more should they need to. The number of courses available is increasing every week so I am trying to avoid spamming people with announcement e-mails and instead trying to build a culture of "I wonder if there's a course on this". We also have a suggest new course facility for learners, managers and SMEs.
-> Getting Senior Management buy-in
-> Tying courses and programmes to business, team, and individual objectives
-> Promoting the courses and the outcomes in Managers meetings
-> Finding allies/power users in the different departments who will take the courses and spread word that they are available/recommend them
In the future, we also plan to implement a youtube style "rate this" functionality to courses so that people can search for courses their colleagues have found useful.
As I said, I'm actively working on this so my ideas are not fully formed. I hope they help though?
I agree with Laura's points, there is nothing worse than making a public announcement and finding later that due to cost the plug is pulled. It is always useful to sell it first to the seniors and if you are part of an extended management board- raise the profile there as well. It makes support, course promoting and costing burden easier. Never forget the team leaders too because sometimes managers can get so busy that it stops with them, the team leaders can keep the flames burning. We also use our internal newsletters and learning sites to spread the word and offer taster sessions for buddies then evaluate before going live.
Following on from Cathy's point, line manager coaching / involvement is key, I had great success with this last year. The main discovery was that the managers didn't know how to filter e-learning into real-life working, and were also unsure of the benefits themselves. Thus when individuals came to them for guidance on the training, they fobbed it off as irrelevant and increased the 'haven't got time' syndrome.
Added value was the key, and getting the managers to recognise this and spread the word so to speak was how success started to grow. We had a big drive for effective performance management and the masses were crying out for 121's that actually meant something instead of being a paper exercise. By getting the managers to understand the content and the benefits through coaching workshops, they were able to start linking the value of the training to the achievement of objectives and therefore personal growth for their teams. Over the year, it swung the other way and people were actively seeking admission to the training programme to help develop them for future roles. I also began to see peer coaching, individuals who had already completed their training were supporting and facilitating training amongst new recruits, whereas in the past, they considered it not to be their business. I jumped on that trend as it proved invaluable in teams managed remotely.
It's not easy, it took me about 14 months to get there with a sales group who can be equally elusive on the time front. Good luck with it, and keep us posted.
Senior management buy-in is the key. If you can get heads of department, etc really on side they will do the pushing for you. I'm a bit spoiled in my present role, I keep getting sent suggestions for courses and nagged if we haven't got training on the latest software up. Keeping the elearning current and chopping it into 5-15 minute sections so time isn't so important helps as well.
Mind you, the best method for ensuring engagement came on one Oracle project where the sales team were told that unless they took the course and passed the test on the new expenses software they couldn't claim. 100% buy in...