Change Learning and Development to come out stronger
Sometimes, it takes a massive event with enough velocity and force to shift otherwise rock-solid truths. For us, the Australian Learning and Development industry has been steadfast in its purpose and practices over the past twenty plus years. Now may be the time to change Learning and Development to come out stronger.
“We have always done it this way…”
Many in our industry have been consistent in their approach to embracing the status quo of “This is how we design learning, and this is how we deliver learning. This is how we up-skill people, and this is how we manage training requests.” Often, Learning and Development position themselves as a governance role, where learning artefacts need to be vetted and ‘product-ised’ based on a point-in-time understanding of an existing need. In a traditional sense, Learning and Development operates in a linear organisational context with long-term planning cycles that sees learning events or artefacts being rolled out to the masses, usually in generalised cohorts; and therefore, often designed and delivered as a one-size-fits-all solution to an often non-systematic problem.
Why change Learning and Development?
Strip away longevity of what we believe is true and is the norm and we see that the above model, although dated, still works reasonably well in a routine Business As Usual environment – targeting the masses based on content that is generalised in its nature and often driven primarily from a compliance perspective. Yet this model is extremely flawed due to its rigid nature during times of crisis, or due to changing needs of the customers/learners, evolving systems and organically evolving skills gaps of the people involved. Learning isn’t designed to be controlled by a team that governs the design of it, nor is the delivery of it meant to be based on generalisations around those that are encouraged or forced to consume it.
We believe that organic and user-generated digital content has earned a place in learning and performance management in just about the same scale as it has in people’s personal lives by now.
The case for user-generated learning content
Imagine, for example, Joe the forklift driver recognises the need to correct an unsafe practice he has been observing lately, so he records a short video about his experience and outlines the need to change a behaviour or practice. In this instance, you will have an authentic, real-life learning artefact that learners can relate to. Given the nature of this piece of learning is safety and compliance-related, the role of Learning and Development is to validate the accuracy, and determine the best method of tagging the asset, so it’s able to be quickly found and easily consumed by those who need it. Staging the learning event, following a controlled design and development process poses a far greater cost to the business – a cost which consists of time and effort.
Now imagine you can observe that this particular video is replayed 2-3 times at the minute mark 2:55, by 60% of all video viewers. When you check the video sequence, you see that it is about a stock recording task where a few mistakes were made in the past few weeks that have led to order shortfalls in the supply chain. What would you do with that sort of information?
Enter the era of democratised learning ecosystems
This is what we believe is the real power of “just in time, just enough and just for me” digital learning solutions and the ability to meaningfully analyse learning data. In this smart, job-relevant, immediate, inexpensive, integrated view of organisational learning, if we democratise learning design and development, learners can become the creators of truly authentic learning, based on workplace relevant learning artefacts. Moreover, learning and development teams can become learning analysts and learning curators of performance-critical information, and we can build a new learning ecosystem with practices that democratised learning. This system can be far more fluid and flexible, responsive, truly agile, and therefore, more resistant against adverse impacts of change.
How technology supports the change in Learning and Development