The content issue is the easiest to understand, but not always the easiest to execute. Most organizations realize that they need to better align learning to specific job outcomes. The problem is identifying the correct outcomes in the first place. Understanding job competencies for every job description within an organization is a very daunting task. There are basically two things that need to be identified. The first is the tasks an individual needs to execute each day in order to do his job. This can be accomplished by performing a task analysis. Once the tasks are clarified, the skills that support these tasks can be identified. Teaching skills without understanding how they relate to an individual’s job performance will lead to poorly transferred learning. Course content needs to be a combination of job-specific tasks and their related skills. These types of programs help the learner see the relevance of training to what they do every day on the job. This connection is highly motivating and critical, particularly when it comes to independent learning modalities, such as e-learning
The other aspect to be addressed is clarifying learning options. This is an area that most organizations struggle with. It’s not the availability of options, but rather the mapping and blending of these modalities. We need to do a better job of helping learners understand their learning needs and the most effective ways to support themselves along the journey. To most learners, this will be a dramatic change in how they have been taught to approach learning. One reason for this is that we, as learners, have been trained to pick one modality and stick with it. With today’s options, learners need to understand what’s out there, how these options best match up to their current learning situation and that they are allowed to use multiple options. Most companies are trying to offer some form of blended solution. Most of these tools range from highly independent modalities, such as online tutorials, to highly dependent and supportive modalities, such as the classroom. The Learning Continuum chart below helps illustrate one example of the relationship between the learner’s ability, and need, to learn independently and the tools that best meet the learner’s need. Clearly there are other tools to be included, but this is meant to illustrate how just some of the available options might be utilized.
We need to understand that the learner is the ultimate customer. If we haven’t “sold” them on the means and material for learning, they just won’t “buy.” If we build, and launch, our learning initiatives with their perspective in mind, our probability of success is much higher.
Bob Mosher is the executive director of education for Element K. He has been an influential leader in the IT training space for more than 15 years. Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.