The Effectiveness of Learning – Ready, Set, Go! (Part 1)

This post follows on from “The Effectiveness of Learning – deleting instruction” and concentrates on the implementation of e-learning.

The following four points represent the first of eight points which briefly summarise my experience implementing formally structured e-learning.   The remaining four points will be discussed in Part 2 (following post).

Expectation – The fundamental issue here to avoid is making unrealistic promises, at all stakeholder levels.  This results in disappointment, at the very least, and at the worst, distrust.   Both take time to correct.

  • Analyse your stakeholder group, enthuse them to a realistic point, hone in on their areas of interest but try to be conservative.
  • In the context of the above analysis re-read my previous post “What does success mean to you?”
  • Be cautious of over enthusiastic vendors and others with a vested interest in your project who may unintentionally tend to exaggerate the benefits of e-learning.
  • Keep your own enthusiasm in check; temper it with reality and encourage all stakeholders to do the same.
  • Generally, under promise so you have the best possible chance to over-deliver and delight.

Business – The key here is to align your e-learning strategy with the business strategy.

  • Take a conservative approach to building the business case especially when claims are made for cost avoidance and other benefits.
  • Negotiate a workable budget and plan how to achieve a sustainable outcome over an extended period of time.
  • An e-learning investment/project often needs to justified multiple times and so to counteract the argument the business case needs to be clear, solid and defensible.
  • Keep the business case at front-of-mind and discuss it with your production team to the maximum extent you are able to so that its principles, revenue models and operating budgets are understood by those who work with you and/or support you.
  • Make absolutely certain business stakeholders know what success will mean and how it will be manifested.
  • If possible, allow the business stakeholders to have a stake in the success of the implementation.  Even though you may want to know the business processes, communication methods etc., remember you are not necessarily the expert so allow the stakeholder to have some ownership.

Technology – The available infrastructure needs to be analysed with your IT Department early to avoid surprises.

  • My experience tells me to avoid trying to pass the ownership of available bandwidth or other capacity/capability issues to your IT people because it will only antagonise.
  • There will always be constraints, but don’t forget they have potential to drive creativity as well.
  • Remember, you are the instigator of introducing a demanding application on an already (probably) stretched network, and so you need to take responsibility for that.  You need to work hard to build trust, to show you understand the IT constraints and that if you don’t, that you are willing to try to.
  • But, you also need to be a strong advocate for the L&D function (or whoever you belong to), not only because you want to ensure learners enjoy a trouble free on-line learning experience, but because e-learning is a serious and strategic business platform.
  • Your relationship with IT should be strong enough to enable IT to have a stake in the success of the project.

Learning Integrity – The relevance and the quality of the learning material is at the heart of the matter.

  • If learners are not happy with the presentation, the interactivity, the learning and/or the assessment approach, and cannot see relevance in terms of either their personal development or as an enabler to help them perform better in their job, no amount of content will satisfy them.
  • Seemingly minor matters like typos and formatting problems will turn learners off but obvious errors, especially errors of fact, can have a severe negative impact on a learner.
  • Learners must be able trust the content, and they must be advocates for the learning experience.
  • The designers and developers of the content must have pride in their work, and be allowed sufficient time to carry out quality control checks in a systematic way.

Next post will discuss 4 additional points to consider when implementing e-learning: Maturity, Process, People and Risk