In particular, one of the most important changes taking place is
the formalization of informal learning. Today's high-impact
training programs go far beyond instructor-led events and include
self-study materials, social experiences, performance support,
mobile learning activities, coaching, and highly interactive forms
In 2008, we set out to create a profile of the modern training
organization and to identify the strategies, approaches,
disciplines, technologies, and processes needed to succeed in
today's corporate learning world.
Our research finds that successful learning and development
programs still rely on the tried-and-true basics: performance
consulting, design, program management, audience analysis, and
program administration. And the disciplines of organization,
governance, planning, measurement, and leadership still apply. Most
training organizations are well versed in these skills and can hire
people or consultants to help with these elements.
But the research also finds that learning and development
professionals need a whole new set of skills and disciplines to
succeed in today's social learning environment. These include:
Audience Analysis and Performance Consulting.
Before offering the appropriate learning solution to a business
challenge, today's learning professional must investigate audience
learning behaviors. Before prescribing a learning solution, you
need to ask questions such as: How does your target audience access
information to get the job done? How do employees find people with
answers? Who are the subject matter experts and how can they be
leveraged to improve performance? How can managers become more
engaged in the development and coaching process? To design today's
modern learning environments, you must understand not only what
training people need but how they typically solve problems and
The term "information architecture" refers to a technical
discipline now taught in school - how to organize information so
that it can easily be found and used. Information architecture
encompasses how to design an online learning environment so that it
is easy to locate the information employees need. Traditional
approaches, such as course catalogs, are inadequate for today's
learning styles and information resources. Learning and development
organizations must now work with IT to build social learning
experiences, portals, and other solutions that are easy to use,
highly efficient, and incorporate all types of learning resources.
Collaboration and Community Management.
One of the most exciting new opportunities in corporate learning
today is the use of internal social learning networks. These
networks already exist in many companies as communities of
practice. Your learning and development staff must learn how to
build, promote, moderate, and support these networks.
Like it or not, this term has now become an integral part of the
mission of learning and development. While the concepts of KM have
been around for decades, today's organizations now have the
opportunity to implement very useful tools to manage, share, and
update technical information, documentation, on-the job findings,
and other forms of knowledge - which can and should be integrated
into our training programs and curricula.
Social Networking and User-Generated Content.
We have all heard about the wisdom of crowds. Whether or not you
use social networking, all learning and development staff must
understand the potential for these tools and solutions to drive
business value. Organizations such as Accenture, IBM, British
Telecom, and the Federal Reserve now have highly active networks
that enable professionals and technical experts to share
information, expertise, and even videos freely around the
organization. Through tagging and rating by employees, these
information resources can become tremendously valuable learning
tools. For example, Sun Microsystems has a multimedia portal called
Sun Learning eXchange where employees can post, view, rate, tag,
share, or download content to their desktops or wireless devices.
The portal has revolutionized sales training, allowing salespeople
to get information and seek guidance from their peers quickly and
easily. Modern learning professionals should be considering how to
make learning environments more like YouTube and less like course
Measurement, Evaluation, and Business
One of the benefits of new corporate learning software is we now
have much learning-related data. Through the use of new tools, you
can monitor and analyze the usage of learning programs and
activities more easily than ever before. This data will inform your
decisions about what programs to build, who to invite, and how to
improve your informal learning programs. However, to capitalize on
this data, your learning and development team needs someone who
understands how to capture, aggregate, and analyze data. Without
such a resource, you will be working in the dark.
Change Management and Communications.
While this is certainly not a new discipline, it is one that is
more important than ever. Today's learning environments must be
marketed, monitored, and continuously integrated into the daily
lives of business people. Your learning and development team needs
a change management expert as well as a communications expert to be
Instructional Design, Revisited.
The traditional concepts of instructional design (the ADDIE model)
have not gone away. But it is time to revisit your process and add
steps to incorporate social learning, coaching, management
solutions, and knowledge management. We're currently talking with
organizations in the midst of redesigning identification processes
to ensure the concepts of informal and social learning are
incorporated into every program.
Despite the significant challenges most of us are facing, this is a
very exciting time for the training profession. While budgets are
currently tight, we can achieve even greater corporate impact and
value by embracing these new disciplines and approaches. Our
companies, learning and development organizations, and learning
audiences all stand to benefit.