Debbie Lawley, Managing Director of WillowDNA, gold winners of the Online Distance Learning Award 2012 reviews the Towards Maturity benchmarking report on learning technologies, published November 2012 There are gaps in our expectations of what learning technologies will deliver and the benefits that most achieve. So says the recent Towards Maturity benchmarking report. The study cites workflow and learning integration as a particular concern. What are those gaps and what can be done to address the integration of work with learning? 95% seek to improve the sharing of good practice, 25% on average achieve this The report cites under half using 3rd party social media or video clips of good practice. This compares with top performers more than 3x likely to be using simple tools such as Skype for instant sharing. Most of the options here are not costly ticket items. The phrases in the section that stand out the most relate to a lack of active encouragement. That can be hard to picture but it need not be. Establishing organisational habits is usually best achieved virally. Picking the movers and shakers out who have influence and supporting their adoption of better practice is a great start. Then ensuring the formal learning experiences provided by the organisation are seeded with sharing good practice sets a clear expectation and a good example of how to do this day to day. Very practical examples of getting habits established in sharing good practice include:
- Managers asking teams to connect with others to find out ways in which similar issues have been tackled.
- Prominent individuals taking time to identify great performance and making time to share that practice with other interested parties.
- Making a habit of videoing subject matter experts and sharing short vignettes of approaches.
- Skyping, not meeting, so that physical presence no longer becomes the constraint to the flow of knowledge and decision-making.
For us at WillowDNA, the design of our Pathway hosted platform enables sharing of templates, case studies and video snapshots from seasoned players. And it is not all about how to get it right, these videos often talk about personal learning journeys and development. Coupling formal learning closely with discussion forums is a centre-piece in many of our programmes. 94% seek to speed up the application of learning back into the workplace but only 23% achieve this. One of the most insightful facts in the report is that high performing learning organisations are 7x more likely to encourage and provide time for reflection. Given that this involves no technology, no clever investment this is an extraordinary figure. Many would feel that this is where delivering courses via technology has its downfall but that absolutely need not be the case. In constructing our learning paths, Lisa Minogue-White, Head of Learning Solutions and her team, use many techniques to encourage reflection. In fact, the longer elapsed time with online courses is actually an enabler in this respect. The opportunity to learn, work, reflect and learn again, as part of the time to mastery, is an essential aspect of the learning path approach. The structured approach to the learning journey becomes inextricably linked to informal learning. Formal learning should never be divorced from context but is part of the larger system of learning and working. 92% seek to respond faster to business change: only 25% achieve this There is much written and much research on the topic of business and leadership agility. There has been a huge increase in numbers looking to achieve this from 2011 to 2012 – from 70% to a whopping 92%! But very few achieve this. Here is an interesting fact – high performing learning organisations are 3x more likely to analyse the business problem before implementing a solution. The extraordinary point here is the obvious implied one – that many learning organisations are failing to analyse business problems before implementing a learning solution! It really is time for all learning organisations focus on the business and especially what the business is striving to achieve. The learning path design puts the business objective at the heart. Agility when it comes to learning can mean honing down the content and creating the vital scaffold from which learners can make their own meaning to apply in their context. Creating links through to the working context and the challenges there is one of the ways in which to ensure business agility is architected into the learning experience. 91% seek to improve talent/performance management: only 20% achieve this The report highlights substantial differences between top performers and the bottom quartile. Figures abound such as top quartile teams are 27x more likely to encourage their learners to develop their own learning strategy and13x more likely to integrate learning technologies for development into the way they performance manage and appraise their staff. Many of our customers build learning programmes that go way beyond induction and H&S compliance. Learning is seen as a vital for all whether as a novice, moving into new roles, becoming expert or becoming a subject matter expert. Gaming it is not but there is a sense of progression and contribution whatever your experience. Creating a learning strategy for all is core to creating an expectation of learning for everyone. We all have a role to play in this and a key part of the learning strategists approach is mobilizing talent and knowledge for the benefit of the individual and the organisation. We work all the time with our customers to create that overall learning strategy whether the learners are internal to a company or organisation, whether our customer is providing learning to members or students. The same applies. I warmly recommend this report as s a valuable tool for anyone responsible for delivering learning. The combination of current trends, insights from contributors plus the longitudinal statistics creates a comprehensive resource.