The Effectiveness of Learning – Ready, Set, Go! (Part 2)

This post follows on from The Effectiveness of Learning – Ready, St, Go (Part 1) which discussed the first four of eight points about implementing e-learning.  This post covers the remaining four points.

Maturity – The overall “readiness” for e-learning depends on much more than the organisation’s experience with e-learning itself.

  • An effective process for internal communication, committed and enthusiastic stakeholders, sufficient early adopters of technology and a history of well planned roll-outs of technology in the past are among the most important factors.
  • Low levels of maturity will result in higher levels of risk.  In these circumstances the implementation would normally be slow and the cost would be high – that needs to be accepted until experience grows.
  • If implementation proceeds in a rapidly planned and potentially haphazard manner, it may be faster, but the lower initial costs will inevitably grow considerably.
  • There are cultural implications here as well.  For example, an organisation may be known as being innovative and comfortable with a higher risk environment.  This can mean that organisational confidence is high.  The danger I have seen here is a tendency for setting expectations too high.

Process – This is an area often neglected or given scant regard in the interests of a perceived saving in time, but it’s usually a mistake.

  • Professional Project Management is obvious.
  • An organisation that readily accepts the need for continuous improvement carries out and acts on Project Post Implementation Reviews as a matter of course, is more likely to be attuned to the establishment of e-learning implementations and production processes.
  • While it is common for these processes to follow a systems based approach viz. Analysis; Design; Development; Implementation and Evaluation, there are a number of additional processes that provide useful frameworks and disciplines for the development of e-learning materials.
  • Well planned and executed expectation management, risk management, production management and learning evaluation is vital.

People – There is an array of people and people issues to contend with.

  • At the highest level, identified stakeholders need to be identified and then carefully analysed.  The governing factor revolves around managing the expectations of these sometimes disparate and sometimes integrated groups.
  • The availability, capability and indeed advocacy of learning design and development people are critical and it is vital to gain thieir commitment through basic people good management principles in particular including recognition of effort, understanding why they, their role and the project is important, quality work and listening to their opinions and ideas.
  • It’s usually very worth while including the people who have worked on the project at all levels need to have some stake in the roll-out of the product to enhance a feeling of ownership and pride in the completed work.
  • External to the organisation, suppliers and partners represent key ingredients and, if appropriate, customers need to be managed in terms of expectation.

Risk – The disciplined use of a risk management process that enables the identification, classification and management of risk, including residual risk, is critical.

  • Risk can take a variety of forms but the common categories of risk are Finacial, Management, Resource and Operational Risk.
  • The identification of risks can be tricky; be careful not to be carried away by “groupthink” decisions on what constitutes a risk.
  • Sometimes “issues” are highlighted as risks.  Sure issues will arise and they need to be dealt with, and they may lead to risks but remember “issues” happen in the past whereas “risks” are something that are likely (to varying degrees of certainty) to happen in the future.
  • Be careful about any assumptions that are made within the project actions as these are usually risks.  Common assumptions include the availability of human resources, technology infrastructure, testing facilities and “promises” made in good faith but not confirmed or followed up.
  • I suggest that a risk management document (in whatever form that may be) which sets out the risk, the mitigation strategies, responsibility and residual risk becomes a permanent and compulsory Agenda item at Project Meetings for formal monitoring purposes.

Implementation planning starts at the very beginning of the project and the implications it holds needs to be integrated with new information, changes, opinions and ideas throughout the overall project.

In a future post I’ll discuss some change management issues preparing people and an organisation for e-learning.  I think you’ll be surprised with my view.



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