As we all settle back into our respective desk chairs for what should be an eventful 2014, our attention is naturally drawn to what’s new and trending. Where is the L&D industry headed? What new tools can help my learners right now? How does our business achieve the growth and performance goals it has set for the coming year?
We turn to two of our old friends, top 10 lists and emerging trends reports, to start answering these questions. My own browsing brought me to a few of my favorite sites: eLearningLearning.com, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningTags.com, and others. Through this browsing, I encountered a “2014 Learning Trends” article by Doug Harward in the Winter 2014 edition of Training Industry Magazine.
The article is subtitled “Shifting to Business-Centric Learning.” In it, Harward suggests that the days of focusing on what learners need and want are over. It is time instead to focus first on the business objectives, and making sure training is carefully mapped to the desired outcomes.
I agree with Doug… to a point.
What’s your metric?
Corporate training is challenging because it has both tangible and intangible results. A 50% increase in average contract value for sales reps who complete training on a new product is a measurable outcome for training. We should be looking for these types of improvements… and expect to align training holistically with other parts of the business.
Training should be carefully embedded in the overarching company strategy. Why not make 2014 the year where (almost) every L&D initiative we launch is tied to a measurable outcome?
Who is your learner?
Objectives and outcomes are great, but If we move too far away from what learners need and, heaven forbid, want in the training they take, those tangible results will be more elusive. Considering the learner is still an important step in the process… but we must think on a deeper, more essential level.
Why not replace this:
“Let’s add points and badges to the course because learners think that’s fun.”
“Let’s add an element of competition to this learning solution because it is geared towards sales reps and they naturally work in a competitive environment. It will mirror their on-the-job situation… and we expect it will also increase retention.”
Even this example is rather basic. For every learning solution produced, it is the instructional designer’s job to really look at the science of how people learn… and how they forget. How should information be reinforced? Is it possible to use a research-based approach instead of just presenting content? Even the best instructional designers can fall victim to the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset that often plagues organizations.
let your goals and your learners work hand in hand
Let 2014 be the year when you consciously try to connect business goals to the learning solutions you develop. A business-centric approach is needed, and a major part of that approach includes designing and delivering training that learners will get the maximum benefit from. Its up to the L&D department to use a mix of modalities that will maximize engagement, motivation, and chances for relevant practice.
Let the business goals guide you… but let research-based approaches and best practices for learning design be the vehicle.