A How to Guide on the Principles of the #elearningmanifesto: 3. Tie Learning to Performance Goals


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“We will couple the skills we are developing to the goals of organizations, individuals, or both.”

This principle is an important requirement when building eLearning courses.  If learning doesn’t support  the goals of the organization, what is its value  from a business perspective? Now the question is how to do it?

Get integrated into the business
In the first two posts I wrote about the importance learning integrating with  the business and day-to-day business processes, which is the best way to live up to this principle. In the short term,  I  imagine  this goal is beyond your reach. However,  this should  be your main goal for the next few years. To help you in achieving this, I’ll recommend again reading Tara Elkeles’ book: The Chief Learning Officer: Driving Value within a Changing Organization through Learning and Development.

How to connect to the business: Cathy More – Action Mapping
One way to  connect learning to business goals, is to familiarize yourself with Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping. Basically there are four steps in her approach, see her presentation and blog.

action-mapping

The four steps are:

  1. Identify the business goal
  2. Identify what people need to do (instead of need to know), translate them into actions
  3. Design a (real world) activity for each action that help people practice each behavior
  4. Identify what people really (really?) need to know, add that information

I really like this approach. It connects learning to business goals and it helps create eLearning based on real situations. It puts the learning experience before the knowledge transfer.

The third principle also talks about connecting learning to learners’ performance goals. I think this can be accomplished with learning objectives. If you combine action mapping with learning objective development, the following steps guide your development

  1. Identify business goals
    Identify the business goals and determine what needs to change ( behaviorally) in order to reach them.
  2. Create learning objectives based on identified business goals (in terms of what people need to do)
    First, you need to complete a baseline needs assessment to determine the gap between what people are required and expected to do (that is, identify individual performance expectations) and what they actually can do. This will help determine the types of learning interventions and activities to include in the eLearning course. Then, based on the business goals and gap analysis, you can define the learning objectives. They will describe what people need to be able to do (differently) in order to achieve business goals by successfully meeting personal performance goals.
  3. Translate the learning objectives into activities
    A specific learning experience typically d has targeted learning objectives, and translating them into activities can be challenging. What will help you to develop these, is to understand the needs of the business. Also, working with subject matter experts who are embedded in the business process will help you in creating realistic situations.
  4. Define learning activities around these activities
    You have to come up with learning activities (or interventions) that will help the learner to reach his objectives. Please note it says ‘Learning activities’ so it can be any form of learning (including eLearning).
  5. Measure progress based on questions; ; keep the knowledge to a minimum
    Come up with questions or an assessment that will measure the learners progress. Only add the knowledge (information)  the learner really needs!
    It is important learning objectives are visible to the learner in an eLearning course.
  6. Report on the learning objectives.
    If your LMS is not capable to report on the learning objectives, check out TinCan it can do that and much more!
  7. Evaluate the learning objectives in relation to the business goals
    It is time to evaluate and come up with improvement for the next round. It is crucial that you are able to do this with the people from the business side that are responsible for achieving the business goals.

It is obvious the quality of learning objectives will determine the quality of your learning. If you need some tips on the basics of how to create learning objectives, you can read an article  I recently wrote.

How to convince your boss/client
As we discussed in the previous post on the first two principles, the first step is to start the conversation. I’m confident the business side or your client will be very interested in this conversation, because ultimately this is what it is all about for them.

Jay Cross and the internet time alliance
Jay Cross, is one of the oldest and most respected thought leaders in our industry, who is credited with being the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. Now however, he has completely moved away from the term, using instead “Working smarter’. He does this together with a formidable group called the Internet Time alliance: Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings and again Clark Quinn. They have published ‘The working Smarter fieldbook’ in 2009 It covers Working smarter, Informal learning, social learning, a whole bunch of consequences for instructional design and examples. But in this context most relevant is the chapter on “The business case”. It covers over 50 pages, so it is hard to make a resume you should read the book, although it is mostly about informal learning there are enough lessons to be learned for all of us.

See the overview article for other published posts of this series.

Trackbacks

  1. […] “We will couple the skills we are developing to the goals of organizations, individuals, or both.” This principle is an important requirement when building eLearning courses. If learning doesn't s…  […]

  2. […] principle  closely relates to principle number 3 which  states  we need to tie learning to individual performance  and organizational goals. In […]

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