The Expanded Roles of Learning and Development

October 9, 2015 Melanie Moffett

Unless you haven’t been paying attention or were spending the last few years hiding on a deserted island (with your trusty volleyball friend Wilson) – you probably know the landscape for L&D has been rapidly changing. There are all sorts of new ways of doing things – from creating content in bite-size pieces, to delivering content wherever modern learners are, to measuring learning as a basis of performance.

So what do all these changes mean for the traditional L&D roles? In many ways, it isn’t so much a change in roles or expertise, but more about doing things differently than they have been done in the past.

Mindset shift #1 – Content is a reusable business asset

Learning organizations need to start thinking of content as a business asset. So many times, we think of creating content once and using it in one course, but a better way is designing bite-sized content that can be reused across multiple courses. Now that content has even more value because you can use it across many modalities. You can use it in the classroom, e-learning, for performance support, mobile, reaching your learners in lots of different ways.


 

Take a look at the below ecosystem for learning (for more information on learning ecosystems, read this brief) and consider your knowledge of learning theory and of the modern learner. It is at this point where you should start to match up learning objects (bite-sized, modular, discrete units of learning) with specific audiences or “personas,” taking a cue from the marketing playbook.

(Image credit: JPL http://www.jpllearning.com/blog/feeding-your-learning-ecosystem/)

The below image provides an example of how to apply reusable content blocks in context-specific narratives for different audiences. Basically, you have to start designing your content around the end goal or what people need to be able to do or know to perform their jobs better.   

Matching learning to the right audiences is where you are going to be the most impactful, and doing this at the learning object level might be a bit of a mindset shift for some. But what is great about this method is it allows you to get granular and measure learning effectiveness on an object level and see what content is actually driving that on-the-job performance.

Mindshift #2 – Become a learning consultant within your organization

You might already be thinking of content as a reusable business asset. You might be trying to create learning content in bite-sized chunks and targeting it to the right audience on multiple devices.

But it's very difficult to innovate and design micro learning, if the business orders a 30-minute e-learning course. So many IDs have had situations where a SME comes up and says, "I want a 30-minute e-learning course. I want you to use this (insert fixed asset here) and this is what I want you to do." It is now required of learning leaders AND instructional designers to expand that conversation. 

Conversation starters could include topics like what are the business goals, what are the behaviors that we need to drive, what are the activities, and then what information will be required to support the initiative? The business drives the need, but learning and development has to take it to the next level and drive the delivery of those learning needs to the learner at the right time. 


Mindset Shift #3: Utilize an agile approach
Training Industry offers the below definition for Agile Learning Design:

Agile Learning Design refers to any approach to content development that focuses on speed, flexibility and collaboration. The term evolved from the software development industry, in which electronic content development (e.g., e-learning) has similar characteristics to software development.

It is really important to take on a more agile approach, because once content is thought about in smaller pieces, it no longer takes four to six months to develop a course. According to Chief Learning Strategist Bryan Chapman, a course done using an agile, single source strategy now only takes 121 hours. This is an important shift as it allows your organization to deliver at the speed of business.

Time-to-performance is one of the most important metrics out there that we hear a lot from customers, and developing content in an agile way through the use of reusable content nuggets can dramatically improve the ramp-time to performance.

Ugh, how can we make sure our L&D department has the right skillsets?

The good news is, you don’t have to go and hire all new people in your L&D department. While these mindset shifts above are not something you can just throw at your L&D team and expect them to change overnight, there are ways you can empower them to make the shift to learning content that engages the modern learner and drives business performance.

With the right toolsets, you don’t need the skillsets (necessarily). What you need is content management that enables learning content that is delivered to the right people at the right time. And a way to measure not just the learning but gives you information on what learning is working and what course corrections you can make.

Xyleme offers a content management solution to create, publish, deliver and analyze learning content that brings increased velocity to your entire learning technology ecosystem.

Did we lose you on learning ecosystems? Read this brief and find out from T-Mobile the 3 Best Practices When Implementing a Learning Ecosystem.

About the Author

Melanie Moffett

Melanie manages content marketing at Xyleme, Inc. Xyleme provides content management for learning and development. Melanie is responsible for maintaining the content inventory, editorial calendar and coordinating the full lifecycle of marketing content development. She is a skilled writer and a social media guru.

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