Part I: Putting Learners First.

Does your organization put your Learners first? Or, like most organizations do you spend time figuring out Content your Learners should know?

If it’s mostly the former, even if it isn’t everything they need to know, you’ll see results as employees put into action what they have learnt.

If it’s mostly the latter, you’ll have won the battle but lost the war. Incomplete understanding and half hearted learning will leave your employees confused and ineffective. It is critical that your employees learn well so they can start applying that learning on the job.

We agree with what you’re probably thinking. Both elements are important. Both are open ended and you can always do better. All we are saying is, put the proverbial Horse before the Cart. Learners first and then the content. What exactly does that mean? You are after all, training the “Learners”.

In a nutshell, it’s developing your training strategies and tools around your learners. What do they need to learn? What do they know already? How do they learn? Your organization has different learner personas and unless you discover and understand them you will not be able to answer those questions.

To get you started here are three steps so that Learner focused Training and Development can take root in your organization. These steps will create a direct bridge to your learners’ motivations so that both they and your organization are served.

“Figure out what kind of Learners you have onboard. These are the Learner Personas around which your L & D Organization will develop.”

Engage your learners: Get them involved in the design of their Learning Experience. Figure out what kind of Learners you have onboard. These are the Learner Personas around which your L & D Organization will develop. The modalities of training, the types of technologies that will work best, evaluating their progress, all these will be driven by that knowledge. Here is an article to create and understand Learner Personas. A lot has been adopted from User Personas in marketing and User Experience but the idea behind them serves the purpose.

“The notion of VUCA was introduced by the U.S. Army War College to describe the more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, multilateral world…”

Get them VUCA World ready: This is probably the biggest motivator of all. Do you know who understands the vulnerabilities of the people occupying that world the best? Those very people! As technology and the world changes in dramatic ways, Subject Matter Experts, Leadership and Learners themselves can all contribute to make them feel better prepared to handle what may happen.

This helps your loyal employees cope as the technologies they use change. Boeing recently spent 100 Million USD to do just that. The notion of VUCA was introduced by the U.S. Army War College to describe the more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, multilateral world which resulted from the end of the Cold War (Kinsinger & Walch, 2012).

“… providing a personal learning pathway will keep each employee motivated and productive.”

Benefit the Individual: Every Learner has personal aspirations and a Training and Development program that helps them achieve them by providing a personal learning pathway will keep employees motivated and productive. So what are Learning pathways? Moodle has a definition here. It’s essentially a chosen route towards progressively broadening their knowledge. There are others not just based on selections of online offerings but carefully curated multidisciplinary learning programs. Encouraging and ensuring that a Learner’s personal goals are served is very important.

Most of the technology your company has invested in already will help you achieve these outcomes. It’s a matter of changing focus and a fundamental appreciation of issues facing the Learner and putting their needs first.

Once you have understood your Learners and created the framework, the next step is to put a mechanism to provide the learning. Recent trends point towards an effective and personalized method called Adaptive Learning. This type of learning challenges and feeds the Learner based on their individual requirements. As the name suggests, the pace, content, form and modalities, all provide the Learner the fastest and most effective learning experience.

In our next article we explore Adaptive Learning and explore its application and its benefits.

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