The development of eLearning is advancing rapidly, recent research recommends the importance of ensuring you stay up-to-date with learning technologies. How can you do this? What should be your priorities and values? This article provides 5 lessons based on this recent research.

Lesson 1: Integrate and Embed the Technology
Rob Mason, the Chief Technology Officer at Hult International Business School, recently emphasized in an interview with CIPD the importance of forming partnerships with other departments in any organisation. The IT team need to liaise with HR so that training systems are integrated; obvious, isn’t it? But Rob goes on to emphasize that instructional designers may work in other areas of an organisation and they need to be aligned to the same platforms. We mustn’t assume it’s only the “techies” who will create, develop and use this environment. Integration brings about a seamless experience for the learner.

Goal: Ensure the platform is available to everyone, that it fits everyone’s needs, and that the choice of platform isn’t the prerogative of the “techies” alone.

Lesson 2: Learning needs to involve curiosity
Harold Jarche, the social learning guru, claims the drawback to training employees lies in the emphasis on process and routine. He compares the way artists learn, through experiment and discovery, with what he calls the “drill and fill” approach most organisations employ. He says, “If you’re promoting learning, part of that is being curious yourself, then taking that curiosity and saying ‘how could this be interesting to someone else?’ is important.”

Goal: Don’t just “show and tell”: encourage learners to ask questions, to explore, to find out information because this ‘deepens’ the learning process; what is learned, sticks!

Lesson 3: Make it policy to listen to your learners’ voices
According to research (‘Modernising Learning, Delivering Results’) by Laura Overton, MD of Towards Maturity, there is a disparity between what learners and instructional designers believe:
“The findings from our learner research in the case of knowledge and office based workers is that:
• 88% of workers learn through collaboration with others
• 80% are willing to share what they know
• 70% learn to improve their work through Google
• 85% are finding apps and tools themselves to help them do their jobs better and faster
“…whereas L&D managers believe this is true of only 20% of their workforce.”

This research found the successful organisations used ‘Learner Voice’ to improve quality. It meant they were four times more likely to actively encourage staff to collaborate in building knowledge resources, using tools such as wiki forums, podcasts and videos.

Goal: Learning shouldn’t be something done TO the student, it should be done WITH them. Consultation, negotiation and plain old listening will improve engagement and success.

Lesson 4: Successful organisations are learning organisations
Learning, training and development should not be the poor relation, operating in a restricted budget. Not an easy message in these days of austerity. Laura Overton’s research found that in the top ten high performing organisations, learning was a priority. Employees were given access to education that improved specific skill-sets and knowledge identified by the company at a strategic level. eLearning ensured this was done consistently, cost-effectively and coherently, ensuring everyone knew why their education was important. Randall Stephenson, the CEO at AT&T goes even further. He's placed learning at the centre of his multi-national company and told his employees to spend at least five hours a week online or they "will obsolete themselves with technology".
Read more about his comments here -

Goal: Learning should be at the heart of the organisation’s culture.

Lesson 5: Develop people, not topics
Occupational psychologist Gary Luffman, of the think.change consultancy, believes organisational success comes when employees’ development is broader than simple business targets. Success comes from developing people - which is the coaching model. However, this doesn’t preclude the use of eLearning to do this.

Goal: Learning and development needs a holistic approach, not one focused on single issues entirely related to performance and compliance.

Laura Overton, acknowledges the increasing pace of change and believes there is a chasm opening up between the proactive learning managers and those who are not aware of this change.

Think of it this way, it’s the difference between relying on the status quo or being nimble® in your thinking and planning!