Repost 2012: Next gen organisational learning & development.

Problem Statement

So how do you look for information today? If your like 99% of people, you prefer a Google search to leafing through the phone book. When you want to learn “How to <insert topic here>” you typically google that also. Many of you will use social media to share thoughts and ideas, you might even blog or create your own demo video perhaps even your own website. Unfortunately at many large organisations today, you have to check those tools and skills at the door when you walk into the office – they simply are not supported or encouraged. Thats a wasted opportunity and corporate knowledge management, learning and development tools and processes need to join 21st century; leverage from and embrace the next generation approach!

In many organisations, the tools used for learning and development have not significantly changed since the 1990’s in their form or value. Todays “web based” training systems have little more functionality in them than the self paced CD-ROM’s popular in the 1990’s. The cost of developing customised content for delivery on these platforms is high and access to these platforms limited to a select few “specialist” functions in the organisation. Many organisations current approach ignores that generation of high quality digital content has been “democratised” , rather than being tools and skills that a limited few have experience in, today this is common place, its part of how people live their “digital lives”.

So the key question is – how to we better harness the skills and capabilities that are today within our workforce and use that to capture and leverage “corporate know how” ? It’s not just a question of tools, its also about providing incentives and measures for content creation, rewarding those who are leaders and subject matter experts for creation of high value digital content.

Consume vs. Contribute

I am not an expert in training and development methodology , my approach outlined here is a simple one. When learning any new skill , we start with a base level of knowledge and understanding and develop that until we have achieve mastery. To support that process – you “consume” information to develop and grow your understanding of a skill/topic and support putting that into practice.

To support that basic skill/knowledge development process we require content that can be leveraged in training and development of staff who are in the early stages of skill development.  This content needs to be largely generated by those who have achieved a defined level of mastery within a particular area. Those who have achieved “mastery” need to be measured and rewarded for creation of high quality content. If your a visual person – it looks like this:

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The Toolset

The toolsets utilised here are the very same that many working in your organisation use today in their digital lives outside of the workplace. There are many tools both commercial and open source that are available today to enable content creation and publication, its simply a matter of selecting what is right for you organisation. Some example of the use cases you need to plan for:

– Web based blogging , page hosting platforms

– Organisation specific support/community forums

– Narrated slides, screen capture & video authoring

-Multi-media enabled content publication platform

-Multi format content indexing and search

My view on toolset selection, to ensure creativity and accessibility across the organisation – model your toolset on what your staff use to generate and create content in their digital lives outside of work and keep it simple to allow flexibility.

Some Examples:

Numerous examples exist today where these basic technologies are combined to provide rich learning experiences, ranging from subscription based learning services, informal “how to” blogs augmented with embedded “YouTube” videos to academic education programs to high profile tools used by higher education institutions. A few examples below:

Lynda.com – Subscription based public e-learning platform

AFP548.com – Example of private individuals blog focused on server management using a combination of media tools to share knowledge.

iTunes U – Apples platform for distribution of higher education content.

Khan Academy – Philanthropic organisation focused on provision of e-learning content to assist academic education, largely in maths and science.

Conclusion

The next steps here are starting small , testing and trailing what works for your organisation. Pick an area where you have staff who have achieved mastery, select and implement a basic toolset and establish the measures and rewards program to support the effort and build from their. You will be surprised at the quality and creativity of training and development content developed overtime. The effectiveness of that content will be amplified by the fact that its contextual – generated by people in your organisation who are measured by not just what corporate structures, processes and products they develop but also by the knowledge they leave behind for those that come after them.

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