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revolutionised the training world. Prior to this, face-to-face workshops were the norm. While these still have their uses, this is often not the most effi cient or cost-effective way to learn. With every new technology introduced, the learning technologies industry is often quick to jump on the bandwagon, but this is not the right approach to take. Instead, we need to think strategically about how these technologies will fi t into our overall learning architecture. With ever more new trends and technologies hitting the market, whether it’s Experience API and open badges or wearables and virtual reality, many organisations need external help to make sense of it all.


Social drivers are also contributing to the fast pace of business in 2015. Learning is no longer a solitary activity. An impressive 80% of learners surveyed by Towards Maturity in 2014 said that they were happy to share knowledge using technology, and 89% prefer to learn through team collaboration. In fact, the top learning companies are more than twice as likely to realise the benefi ts of social learning in their blended programmes. Technology makes it easier than ever to learn collaboratively, whether this is through forums, webinars, social networks or instant messaging.


So what’s the answer? Creating future-proof learning is about much more than emerging technologies. There are three main things we need to consider when we are building a learning architecture which will help us achieve the business results we are looking for. Firstly, it is paramount that we look at the context of the learning programme. We must look to the wider business, including the overall goals, drivers, challenges and culture to understand where learning fi ts into the bigger picture. Secondly, we must think about alignment. Aligning the activities of our L&D departments with the wider business objectives gives us a focus, and will help the company as a whole work towards our goals. If we are crafting learning objectives which align closely with the direction of the organisation as a whole, we are more likely to succeed in our ambitions.


The third element to consider is the sustainability of our learning, knowledge


management or communication programme. L&D as a whole needs a radical shift in the way it views training. Learning is about more than a series of disparate activities, and should be considered as an ongoing process. Learners need support through the entire learner journey, whether it’s with performance support, job aids or access to a resource bank. And don’t forget to continue to track and analyse results throughout the learning process, in order to gain insight and ensure the future success of the initiative.


Simplifying complexity Given the vast gap between organisations who know what they want to get out of their learning and those who are actually doing it, it is clear that a supplier intervention is required. Whether it is building internal L&D capability or partnering with a learning technologies fi rm, it is important that businesses feel suffi ciently equipped to make the changes they want to see in their companies. We know that it can be diffi cult to know exactly where the split between just-in-case and just- in-time content comes in, and getting it wrong can mean providing inappropriate content at the wrong time. As well as this, many learners say that content is too confusing or uninspiring, making it harder to encourage engagement, so we need to factor user experience into our programmes. That is where the learning expertise of an experienced team is invaluable. It is only with a deep understanding of creating a robust learning architecture that we can begin to simplify the complexity of this daunting task, both for organisations and their end users. There is a reason people like the simplicity of one-click payment on Amazon, and there is no reason why user experience for learners should be confusing. By making the learning process as straightforward as


e.learning age april 2015


… we expect to see a move towards personalisation, with technology making it easier than ever to target a very specifi c audience with the exact content they need, when they need it, and in the most appropriate way.


possible, we can reduce barriers to learning, making it more effi cient and helping us move towards the business results we need. Having access to a team who can craft a great user experience will help you achieve better results, resulting from a more effi cient, user-friendly programme.


A vision for the future So, what’s next? It is impossible to predict what will be around the corner in the technology sphere, and to some extent, it is irrelevant. Trends will come and go, and the technologies of today could become obsolete before we know it. The technology itself matters far less than taking the right underlying approach, underpinned by a meticulously planned learning architecture, comprising the right blend of content, strategic overview and evaluation. The right team and a solid understanding of how we can construct and maintain our learning architecture, no matter how complex, is the key to learning that delivers meaningful business results. We believe that personalisation will be a signifi cant aspect of learning in the


future. This is not dependent on the technology of the time; rather, it is a way to ensure that every learner has access to material that is relevant to them. Role fi lters and diagnostics will continue to play an important role in learning, but the technology and social drivers will also push forward the need for smarter, more innovative ways to personalise content. The potential is vast. GPS location software gives us the opportunity to push


information and resources to our learners depending on where they are, ensuring highly relevant material is available at the point of need. Learning analytics can give us a unique insight into our learners’ strengths, weaknesses, routines and learning styles, and this rich data can be used to design tailored programmes which pinpoint exactly what they need. Wearable technology can record and detect tiny changes in a learner’s biology, which can assess whether or not they are too stressed to learn, the optimal time for learning according to their biorhythm, what they are looking at and all sorts of other data which was previously inaccessible in the learning environment. In reality, the most important components of a fantastic programme today, whether this is centred on learning, knowledge management or communications, are very unlikely to change in the future. Great content, which is closely aligned to the overall business objectives and delivered via the most appropriate technology and channels, will still be important in fi ve, ten or twenty years. But we expect to see a move towards personalisation, with technology making it easier than ever to target a very specifi c audience with the exact content they need, when they need it, and in the most appropriate way. It is now up to us as learning experts to cut through all the noise of the vast range of technology available to guide organisations towards the most appropriate solutions, making the learning process simpler and more accessible than ever before.


Piers Lea is the Chief Strategy Offi cer of LEO and Learning Technologies Group plc


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