With a revolving door in the executive suite continuing to spin,
there is no doubt that learning executives will face questions from
new CEOs, CFOs, or other C-level executives about their methods and
results. In many cases they are continuing to be quizzed on the
efficacy of in-person learning in a world more and more reliant on
web-based applications. A recent article by Claire Schooley (with
Matthew Brown and Sara Burnes) from Forrester Research tackled some
of the bigger issues.
"Done effectively, e-learning can affect all parts of an organization, including employees, partners, resellers, and even customers," the authors point out. "Yet too often e-learning programs fail to reach their full potential. To succeed, content must be thoughtfully planned and aligned with company goals and employee work flow. And creative staff must engage all lines of business in creating a formal and informal learning and working environment. Strong executive support is critical."
The lack of management support makes learning something to do if
there's time, Schooley and her co-authors explain. "Excellent
learning plans fizzle if executives and management don't support
them. This means providing support for e-learning development,
encouraging e-learning use throughout the lines of business, and
insisting that internal marketing work with the learning department
to promote the importance of learning to organizational success.
"Managers must also make ample time for their employees to complete
learning courses. Poor content drives learners away, some never to
return. Reading learning content does not equate with e-learning.
Translating a workbook into an online reading experience without
considering the differences in delivery mode is boring and drives
learners away from e-learning. Content must be repurposed using
appropriate production techniques to engage the learner."
It's STILL the economy
"Due to economic pressures, companies are going to reduce training
budgets to a point where it doesn't make sense to create content on
marginal topics," suggested Tony Karrer, CEO of TechEmpower in his
2009 predictions for e-learning technologies. "Instead, we will
call this 'self-directed learning' and will do our best to support
the workforce to learn it on their own with minimal guidance and
Karrer also believes that an increase in consumer and education
social learning solutions will increase pressure for social
learning solutions in corporate learning. He notes that "2008 was
an interesting year that saw myriad new start-ups offering content
through interesting new avenues. Social learning solutions such as
social homework help were provided by Cramster, CampusBug, Grockit,
TutorVista, EduFire, English Cafe, and the list goes on." He
believes that one in fi ve learning professionals could lose his
job when some "vice president or C-level in your company will have
their teenager or college-age kid use one of these services and
tell them about it. They will then proceed to wonder why you aren't
doing something similar. It's the change where consumer leads
education leads corporate."
Karrer also believes the move toward acceptance of virtual
classroom means that there will start to be a greater acceptance of
virtual conferences. "Conferences this year will also do this
because their other alternative is to be canceled from lack of
people able to pay for travel," he writes. "But because we are all
going to be maxed out, expected to do 10 percent more work with 10
percent less people, we won't have time to go for several days.
Instead, we will see the creation of things that are in between a
full virtual conference and something that's a few sessions. These
things will be more targeted and deeper. Many of them will be from
ad hoc sources."
Joining a chorus of others on the topic, Karrer wrote at the start
of the year that adoption of mobile learning "would be well below
where people were expecting." He added: "While I still think this
will be a relatively small percentage of activity, this year I
expect it to be a year in which mobile becomes more. I believe that
we will see continued increase in the percentage of people walking
around with mobile web access. And we won't see much adoption as
the central vehicle for learning content delivery."