Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Why Make It Difficult?

It really is hilarious that so many people believe in "dumping" so many options into a training system that it "becomes clunky", "burdensome", "not used", "not cost effective", "doesn't maximize resources".

Your training system or elearning management solution doesn't have to fly like Superman to be effective. Nor does it have to soar through the galaxy like the Millenium Falcon to have an impact on your employees and your training methodology.

Although technology presents a fantastic way for us to maximize our resources and streamline efficiencies... we need to be weary of just how much technology we let control our work life. If we have too much - we risk becoming a commodity. We can't have technology take over our jobs, but make the technology an extension of ourselves and a "tool" to help you accomplish your goals and solve company problems.

On very simple terms, the most important factor to keep in mind when setting up an online training program is that it should be an extension of you - the training administrator.

First, it should make your job easier and your life easier. If it does this - you're on the right track. Next, it should give you a much easier way to schedule, deliver and track your training... or better yet - a better way for training management. If it's saving you time, keeping you more productive and allowing your trainees to train on their own time (so as not to interfere with their daily tasks)... then you are definately on the right track! Last, I would highly recommend a system that automates 90% of the administration of keeping up with delivery and progress AND (and this is very important btw...) you need a way to create engaging, interactive courses that you can deliver to your trainees (while you sleep) automatically.

If you can get your hands on a system that:
  1. Makes your working life easier
  2. Makes your personal life easier
  3. Gives you a better way to manage your training
  4. Saves you time (and money)
  5. Keeps you very productive
  6. Keeps your employees productive
  7. Automates 90% of the administrative/tedious functions of training
  8. Gives you way to easily create engaging, interactive courses that stimulate learning

Then I think your way ahead of the game.

On the other hand - there are still people and organizations that believe that in order to have a good learning management system at your disposal - "it needs to be able to dance." I don't agree.

Why make it difficult? Keep it simple and you shouldn't have any problems. Plus it's much easier to make a case to management to procure a training system - with a list of 8 items (like above).

If you have tons of money - then pick and choose what you want for your elearning management solution and build one from scratch. But, if you don't have the money and are looking for a way to transform your training program into something wonderful and exceptionally productive - check this out.

Here's the list from Elliot Massey.

Stay loose and focused.

George
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18 Wishes for an LMS!
By Elliott Masie
(Reprinted from Chief Learning Officer Magazine)
"Hey, Learning Management Systems, can you dance?" It is time for learning executives to have a heart to heart conversation with their LMS. Ask them if they are ready to dance to the music of performance, profitability, talent management and extreme learning.

Tell your LMS that your company is ready to have it step up from its early role as an Enterprise Database of learning activities. Now, you want it to become an ENGINE to drive business and talent outcomes.

Don’t be shy. Tell the LMS exactly what you want. Let me be your coach in this process. Take my LMS wish list as a "cheat sheet" when you go in to talk to your system. Note how I am telling the LMS straight-up what I want from it:
1. LMS, I want you to be able to personalize and target invitations to learn for each of our employees based on current projects, performance goals and critical events in our business.
2. LMS, I want you to create a "dashboard" for each manager that highlights, in real time, how their teams are learning.
3. LMS, I want you to be our Compliance Tracking System. As rules and regulations change, inform our employees and customers and offer updated learning modules.
4. LMS, I want you to integrate into our Social Networking Systems.
Sometimes, the source of knowledge is not a class but rather a conversation with a colleague down the hall with the exact right experience.
5. LMS, I want you to observe the learning styles of our workforce and offer learning options appropriate for each employee, content domain and situation.
6. LMS, I want you to get ready for more Extreme Learning. Let us use you to leverage the power of PodCasting, Wikis, Blogs and other emerging content models.
7. LMS, I want you to become part of our browser. As an associates do their work, they should be able to click on a button and interact with the LMS for content, context, future learning needs and collaboration.
8. LMS, I want you to be more integrated with our business objectives. As we roll out new products, change our strategy, realign our workforce or add new customers, you need to be hooked into the process in real time.
9. LMS, I want you to work with a wider range of devices. Our workforce is moving towards less time in front of a desktop or laptop and more interaction with PDAs and mobile devices.
10. LMS, I want you to handle the growing use of content at the object level. Business is moving fast and often, the learning needs are small:
just a chunk of the right content, now! Stop calling that a non-completion. It is a learning moment and a success.
11. LMS, I want to have access to more reusable content. Part of the promise of the LMS and SCORM was reusable and sharable content. I want our organization to be able to access more content internally and in external affiliations. Where does Open Source content fit into your future?
12. LMS, I want you to be able to create portable learning digital transcripts for our employees. When someone leaves our company, they should be able to take a digital record of their learning history and certifications.
13. LMS, I want you to work closer with your cousins, Document Management and Knowledge Management. The three of you are deeply connected in terms of our business strategy but I rarely see you hanging out together or even talking to each other.
14. LMS, I want you to keep track of how valuable other employees found each learning offering. Just like Amazon, some of your best value will be in sharing peer reviews of content.
15. LMS, I want you to facilitate multi-language learning. Some of our employees speak English quite well, but learn best in their native tongue.
16. LMS, I want you to be able to facilitate informal learning. When I send someone to a conference, hire a coach, buy a set of books or make a development assignment, you don’t seem that interested. Remember, most corporate learning is informal.
17. LMS, I want you to become part of our Emergency Management Plan. When a crisis hits, I’d like to be able to turn to you find competencies and to deliver extremely rapid content.
18. LMS, I want you to provide a macro-assessment of how the organization is approaching learning investments, bench marked with other similar organizations around the world.

In other words, tell your LMS that you want it to dance! The LMS providers have built high-powered databases that are ready to be ENGINES. It is time for you to add the processes and focus to make your LMS dance for you!

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One final thought:

Don't lose site of what your trying to accomplish by "loading" up your "potato" with too much "extras"... that keeps you from eating it or "using" it to your best "leverageable" advantage.

G.

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