Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Time to Upskill L&D

I’ve just spent the last few days in Melbourne with L&D peeps at LearnX and OzLearn chat and there’s a clear theme that I’ve picked up on through the time here; L&D people need to upskill to meet the demands of the modern environment.  This is in no way a knock on the skills or attitudes of the many good people who work in learning and development or people and performance or any other name for assisting with the learning function of organisations, but it should act to serve as notice that in order to effectively lead and manage learning functions in today’s world our L&D managers need to embrace learning technologies like never before.

Now you’d think this was maybe just me speaking as a clear advocate for learning technologies and, well, yes in someways it is, but the fact remains that there are still severe shortages in the workplace of those with an understanding of what’s out there and how it can benefit their people.  You wouldn’t catch it any other part of learning would you?  Can you imagine an L&D type person saying ‘I don’t do evaluations, I just don’t believe in it’ or ‘putting objectives on things just ruins it’ or how about ‘I don’t believe in face to face sessions’?  Of course not, our job in L&D is to make use of the right tool for the job, make sure we engage with sound instructional design and use everything in our toolset to help people learn and develop.  So if you don’t do learning technologies, or you don’t want to get involved in elearning let alone social learning or heaven’s forbid a MOOC (whatever that may be); then you’re probably not offering the best you can to your people in L&D.

Don’t get me wrong here, there’s a time and a place and I’m not suggesting that elearning replaces everything for your or any organisation (unless it really is the best tool), but you can’t ignore it all together.  Anyone who thinks that elearning is just a phase and is going away is as deluded as anyone who believes that face to face training is finished.  Sometimes nothing will do but having a facilitator, trainer or educator actually there with a group of people to enable the learning, but sometimes that’s not only unnecessary but the wrong thing altogether.  eLearning often makes its way into organisations because of the efficiencies it can present.  That doesn’t mean its not the most effective tool either, these are not mutually exclusive events.

I also don’t think that if you’re an L&D manager or advisor you must automatically be the world’s greatest elearning provider or technical guru.  I don’t think it’s realistic for everyone to go from no skill in the area to being a guru overnight, but you should be taking an interest in the area and gaining some experience along the way.  The Australian market is more mature than the New Zealand market (but both are immature compared to the UK and much of Europe, let alone the US) but in both those countries I’ve come across numerous L&D people who know as little about elearning as they do about nuclear physics (yeah, those of you who’ve read some of my earlier blogs now know about my past…).  I can understand an organisation still not having any elearning - it’s expensive business to get into and you have to look closely at the benefits and ROI before embarking in that direction; particularly if you’re a small organisation.  But for the L&D function to not even have looked at the options and what’s available is far harder to understand.

Not only is this a challenge to those in that boat (if they’ve read this far) but it’s also an offer to help.  I’m going to put some resources together for everyone to look at and also start bring in other areas off the web so that there can be no excuses moving forward.  On top of that contact me directly and I promise I’ll help where I can.  You can contact me via my LinkedIn profile (see the about me) or Twitter handle or email if you need more or engage me on any of the social media tools that form part of my daily work. 

We’re coming in to land now (yes, in flight blog again) so I’ve got to pack away the computer, but without wanting to sound too corny, it’s time for your  learning to  really take-off and make the most of the technologically accelerating world that we’re living in.