Developing a High-Octane Approach to Learning

The new learning audience is dynamic, mobile and highly sophisticated.
L&D teams must push the envelope
to create new blended learning strategies.


Organizations today are quickly understanding that their learning strategies need to be restructured. With changes in how work is performed (telecommuting, globalization, decentralized workforces) and in the learning audience itself (Baby Boomers to Gen Me), organizations face the most complex learning environment ever presented.

The fundamental driver for this quickly increasing level of complexity is that learning in all forms must take a blended approach to attract the learner to want to learn and maximize depth and length of retention. Learning that isn’t appealing to the learner (i.e., fun, interesting and highly relevant to their professional and personal development) will go nowhere.

There are two components to making learning appealing:

  • Learning Content Development, which must employ imagery and mixed media with eye-popping graphics that draw the learner into the subject.
  • Delivery, which must be multi-modal to keep the learner’s attention and make the learning easy to apply. Most importantly, the delivery must be done in a way that provides performance support at the time of need of the learner. The days of the one size fits all course have come to a close.

These principles apply to all forms of learning, including mandatory and compliance training. Just because learning is required doesn’t mean that learners will remember it or apply it – and they will go kicking and screaming into having to participate. The most heavily regulated organization must apply a blended learning strategy that compels people to want to learn and offers an engaging way to do so.

We also must realize that learning is happening all around us in the workplace. In today’s need for learning and training that is relevant and available at the speed of business, employees seek out what they need to know, from whomever has it.

Organizations must understand that the new learning audience is dynamic, mobile and highly sophisticated. Learning and Development teams must push the envelope to create new blended learning strategies that embody an instructional, collaborative and formative approach that attracts and motivates the learner. But do we understand how to develop a high-octane blended learning approach? How do we make sure that this approach is aligned with the needs and compliance requirements of the business?

We must develop learning strategies that include:

  • Multiple modalities that promote and encourage a mix of company and learner-generated content
  • Socialization and discussion around the learning
  • Coaching and mentoring to help reinforce the learning
  • Real-world practical application that encourages learners to embrace a new way of thinking and acting.

Without this approach, learning will just be a “check the box” exercise with no discernable impact on individual or organizational performance.



Michael_Rochelle_Headshot-073Michael Rochelle
Chief Strategy Officer and Principal HCM Analyst, Brandon Hall Group
Twitter: @MichaelRochelle

Michael oversees consulting, strategic services, and advisory support for Brandon Hall Group members. Michael is also one of the company’s principal analysts covering topics such as learning, talent, sales and marketing, and executive management.

Michael will be the keynote speaker at NextSteps 2016, NetDimensions’ Global User Conference, on April 13th – 15th. Learn more at the NextSteps website.

LMS: Evolution or Extinction: 8 Trends that Change Everything (PART 1 OF 8)

Trend #1: Informal and Social Learning
(Part 1 of 8)

Informal and social learning within organizations around the world continue to fuel discussions about the relevance of the Learning Management System (LMS) in today’s corporate learning, performance and workforce support programs for both internal and external learners. Has the LMS become a dinosaur? T-Rex image

It is estimated that at least 75% of learning is informal — through collaboration, communities of practice, user-generated content (including user-created video), or learning at the point of need.

Meanwhile, social learning and collaboration tools enhance both formal and informal learning programs by improving learner engagement and drive greater knowledge retention.

High-performing organizations take a social learning approach that merges formal and informal learning. They strive to not only meet formal training requirements, but to also provide a platform that encourages the exchange of ideas and sharing of knowledge across the enterprise.

Such a platform could be a wiki that supports both open-access communities and restricted-access communities. Employees can then publish and share information and knowledge with other professionals, especially because the communities are often related in terms of knowledge or expertise.

No matter what platform or software tool you decide to deploy in your organization, the technology is always secondary to formulating a learning strategy and experience that is well suited to members of your organization.

What to consider for your LMS in terms of informal and social learning:
– Ease of integration with corporate social networks
– Syndicated search and expertise locator
– Gamification options and capabilities
– Performance support (“the 5 moments of need”)

Important questions to ask yourself before choosing a path are:
Am I looking for a “socialized” LMS application or for an LMS as the social platform of choice?
Which choice will help evolve our learning strategy to meet our current and future needs?

This is the first of an eight-part series on LMS: Evolution or Extinction — 8 Trends that Change Everything.

Too social?

The main part of the mechanismBrandon Hall Group Analyst David Wentworth just posted an interesting piece on the growing problems with enterprise social network initiatives.

You can read what David is thinking here.

We have always believed in social learning rather than in the idea that HR or learning and development departments would end up “owning” enterprise social networks.

To that end we make a point of including core talent-related social affordances in our out-of-the-box offerings (learning and performance interest groups, forums, news, email, chat, file sharing, etc.) and supplying robust API libraries, including widgets, Google gadgets, macros and plugins for working nicely with clients’ enterprise social network choices, whatever they turn out to be.

We think of it as the good neighbor policy.

The consumerization of process

There is a great deal of talk about the consumerization of IT.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, transitions to SaaS (Software as a Service) suppliers, private and public cloud infrastructure investments, etc.

However, there hasn’t been a lot of headline news about the consumerization of company processes. But it’s happening and it goes hand in hand with the system and hardware changes.

People expect not only to be able to use their own tools at work but also to be allowed to use company systems the same way they dip in and out of made-for-consumer systems and services.

This means, among other things, that companies have to rethink some of their top-down service delivery models and invest more in self-service models or at least in better employee-access models.

One of the knowledge management gurus at Green Chameleon posted a blog piece on just this issue in relation to employee engagement around employee generated content or EGC (as opposed to the retail world’s UGC acronym — User Generated Content).

You can find the blog piece here.

It’s worth reading.

A “Top 100” list that talks back

A tag cloud example of the power of visual representation (see below — click the image once or twice to make it full-size).

Or you can explore the original posting here.

Admittedly, even a list of lists is still subject to curation bias. However, the authors make a point of providing method and target disclosure. This is a great example of what can be done (efficiently) to give people serious, actionable information.

What could you do with this idea at your company? Think a Top 20 list for customer service strategies or a Top 10 list for sales with click-throughs going to explanations and war stories.

There is a brilliant instructional design lesson here.