Common Ground Is the Only Thing To Stand On When Creating Training and Development Initiatives

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    Trishia Jandu is an independent Professional Learning & Development Consultant specializing in traditional and technical learning, as well as development solutions. Trishia has worked with a variety of clientele to conduct training business needs analysis, develop learning strategies, lead instructional design teams in the development of blended learning solutions, implement Learning and Content Management Systems, and measure ROI. More information about her experiences and clients are available on LinkedIn.

    Q. Every company has training and development initiatives that affect numerous stakeholders including senior executives, project and training managers, instructional designers, and programmers.  Have you seen some of the challenges they face?

    The various stakeholders involved in training and development initiatives generally agree on what they want the training solution to accomplish. The challenge is in factoring in their various requirements during the design, development, and the delivery of the training to obtain the desired results. For example, senior executives typically desire solutions that are developed on time and within budget but are not involved in the planning or implementation stages. Project managers need to balance the expectations of senior executives with the available resources, timing, and budget. And the design/development team is faced with the challenge of using the resources and budget available to meet the goals of the project.

    To overcome these challenges, the goal is to set a common understanding of the scope and limitations faced by all stakeholders and plan a solution that is attainable within the constraints of the initiative in order to meet the intended outcomes.

    Q. Could technology further enhance the collaboration between multiple stakeholders?

    As organizations and employees become more geographically dispersed, it is imperative to find productive ways for people to communicate and collaborate. Fortunately, the growing availability of free or low-cost collaboration tools makes it easier for stakeholders to work together and keep in touch, and they make use of multiple media such as video, audio, text, or some combination.

    For example:

    • Stakeholders can use online meeting (webinar) tools to meet and collaborate in real time.
    • Several tools exist that allow teams to work collaboratively together on documents and converse at the same time. (i.e. Google Docs)
    • Many tools allow team members to comment on or edit particular deliverables, in a manner that does not interfere with original drafts.
    • Instant chat tools enable quick and immediate Q&A.

    Collaborative technology enables faster and more efficient creation of deliverables, quick access to project deliverables and updates, combined with easier and more flexible interaction and communication opportunities.

    Q. Where does technology fall in relation to performance improvement?

    Technology has already made significant waves in supporting performance improvement, especially while on the job. For example, software users can quickly access context-relevant help or e-learning at the time they need it. Blogs and discussion boards are seeing growing use as a way for subject experts to communicate to the larger employee base and for employees to ask questions. Several organizations have also made use of the concept of Wikis – allowing employees to collaborate by contributing their information and experiences regarding a particular task, tool, or process; which eventually becomes a firm’s standard reference tool.

    Historically, people have always learned from each other in the workplace; whether it was through on-the-job coaching, traditional in-person meetings, or via telephone conversations. Technology and collaborative learning platforms have only facilitated that collaboration further, by:

    • escalating the number of ways people can obtain the information they need,
    • supplying a variety of access points,
    • increasing the flexibility and speed of obtaining information, and
    • enabling easy access to the right people and/or correct information, at the time they need it.

    Q. Should we expect more innovation in instructor-led training and development 5-10 years from now, since people are learning more and more from one another?

    It’s long been known that adults learn best when the subject is of immediate use and when they’re actively involved in a process. Businesses are now more than ever buying into the effectiveness of on-the-job / as-required learning and making the appropriate investments. As technology continues to provide more and more opportunities for real time collaboration and learning, instructional designers are incorporating these tools into their design. Whether that involves virtual meetings, collaboration tools, or social networking technologies, the result is less time in the classroom, and more focus on enabling SMEs and individuals to collaborate at the time that’s most relevant to the learner.

    As free social networking tools and their adoption continue proliferate the Internet, the best and most useful features of these technologies are being incorporated into various learning/collaboration platforms. In the future, we may see a break from standalone collaborative learning platforms, and instead, an incorporation of the social collaborative tools/technology into organizations’ standard software tools.

    The key thing to remember is that current and future social/collaboration technologies are not just about information; they’re about linking people in ways we never have before. This will happen in ways we can’t predict because technology is changing so rapidly. As we’ve experienced, there seems to be a new or unique tool connecting us in some way every few months.

    Q. How will “online learning communities” affect training and development initiatives?

    An online learning community is simply a common place for learners to collaborate and learn from each other. It can consist of a variety of collaboration opportunities such as giving a place for teams to interact, holding face-to-face or online meetings, writing/reading blogs, participating in asynchronous discussions, instant messaging, and so on. As individuals become more accustomed to accessing team members and information via this route, designers can take advantage of developing learning opportunities through these communities. The challenge that organizations may have is in helping older generations who have not grown up in a technology world to utilize this very different way of exchanging ideas and helping others.

    Q. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Trishia!  We’re interested to hear your favorite resources.

    Links to magazines, web sites and blogs that I’d recommend are below.

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