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Let ID Fundamentals and the Learner Be Your Guide

Friday, May 29, 2020
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In his Forbes article, “Why Businesses Need to Triage Learning Priorities in the COVID-19 Era,” Ulrik Juul Christensen emphasizes that in the new world of work—with either redesigned office spaces or staff working remotely—business leaders will need to re-think their organizations’ learning priorities. “This urgent need confirms a trend that, even prior to the pandemic, had been emerging: training people at a far faster pace to help them become more responsive to rapidly changing business conditions.” Indeed, as the ATD Talent Development Capability Model outlines, TD professionals need to be true business partners for organizations to be successful today and the future.

The recently compiled TD at Work digital collection, “Learning Technologies: Ready for the Now,” provides TD practitioners tools and processes to help upskill and reskill employees effectively and efficiently. The collection offers guidance on moving training online, helping employees stay engaged in a digital world, using or improving their microlearning strategy, choosing a learning management system, and getting started with mobile video. It all starts with some fundamental principles.

Solid Planning

An urgency to move forward with training and development in new ways doesn’t mean that critical preparation and analysis can go by the wayside. For instance, are you considering a learning management system to track self-paced learning and compliance programming? In “Lay the Groundwork for LMS Success,” Konstance Allen encourages the L&D team to assemble a team with members of IT and HR, as well as end users, to make certain the LMS works for their organization. This will help ensure that it is user-friendly, works within the confines of the organization’s other technology, and can provide necessary regulatory reports. Assembling this team is an important first step that needs to occur well before issuing a request for proposal.

And in “And Action: Start Rolling With Mobile Video,” Matthew Pierce advises that L&D practitioners ask themselves these questions before beginning a video project: Who is the audience for this video? What is its goal? How will success be measured? He further recommends focusing on scripts, storyboards, and B-roll before you ever pick up a camera—whether that camera is your smartphone or something more high-end.

Learner-Focus

As David Smith writes in “6 Steps to Moving Your Training Online,” apart from the technology involved, there are core training design issues to consider. How can you best create content that will meet learning objectives and engage learners? Can it be made available via the LMS? How can you ensure that learners’ time online is spent effectively?

And, because learners are now more likely than ever to be spread across multiple locations, conducting an audit of learner locations is a must. Can learners access the online training? Is there a firewall issue? Is technology blocked out in the learner’s country?

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Science of Learning

In “Motivating Employees in the Digital Age,” Sharlyn Lauby emphasizes the need to consider motivational theory to reach employees—think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory, and Skinner’s Behavioral Reinforcement Theory. As part of a blended learning approach, such as studying for a certification exam, Lauby writes, “A secret Facebook page is created so the group can support one another between meetings. The individual members are motivated to share their expertise because other members are doing the same.”

Microlearning is one effective method to engage employees, writes Elise Greene Margol in “Microlearning to Boost the Employee Experience.” Employees can learn on their own time, and the short format sets learners up for success because they feel like the compact modules are doable. Margol states, “Short bursts of learning actually align better with how our brains work. Numerous studies point to the fact that our brains are alert for no more than 20 minutes at a time.”

Fundamental ID Principles

Margol continues by recommending adhering to core instructional design techniques when creating content for a microlearning library: conduct a needs analysis, write solid learning objectives, and select the correct learning modality.

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Pierce also weighs in, noting that engaging learning content is relevant and authentic. Further, he adds that “trust is a fundamental component of learning.”

Correct Modality

L&D practitioners are now experimenting with new tools and forms of training and development, for many reasons. As Pierce states, “When you break it down, it is easy to see why the use of video continues to grow. Not only does video communication reduce the need for travel and lowers training costs for the company, it keeps employees engaged and accommodates different learners because it combines both audio and visual elements.”

Smith provides ideas for the types of tools to use in moving training online. Try breakout rooms for small groups to review a case study, or a series of polls to gauge learners’ knowledge absorption. Can learner needs be met in the online format? And how will you help your learners do so? Through chat? Quizzes? Demonstration of their learning through video?

Think Like a Business Partner

Now, more than ever, organizations need L&D to be true business partners. Doing so means thinking return on investment, strategy, and the future. As Allen cautions, an LMS, for example, is a major investment and should only be purchased if it makes sense in the overall learning strategy. And Smith reminds us to keep in mind the following when it comes to training and development: What is the business need?

About the Author

Patty Gaul is a senior writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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