Why high-impact learning organizations rely on single-source

April 28, 2015 Melanie Moffett

“Success is relative.” How many times have you heard this phrase and actually thought about it in practice in a corporate learning and development setting? Reading between the lines, the underlying meaning is that there’s no objective standard for measuring whether you’ve reached your learning goals. There’s some truth in the fact that there’s no single, overarching definition of success that transcends all people. However, making this your mantra tends to pull the rug out from under any attempt to objectively track, measure and analyze the efforts learning organizations put into improving their workforce’s performance.

By and large, today’s learning organizations must track, measure and analyze the ways their employees’ access, interact with and respond to learning content. We’ve entered the era of big data where virtually everything digital that people come into contact with leaves an impression. Just as content marketers have learned from Google Analytics that individual metrics in a Web-based context, such as click-thru rates, fail to tell the whole story of how consumers interact with a company’s online content, learning organizations need data that gives a more complete picture of how learners are consuming and using content.

High-impact learning organizations have internalized these concepts. Ultimately, there’s a push to consolidate authoring and publishing into a single, un-siloed learning content management system that allows L&D organizations to rapidly develop and deploy materials. At the same time, content needs to be consistent and conform to corporate standards, but also be flexible enough to be adjusted as learning materials become outdated or obsolete.

What are high-impact learning organizations?
What Bersin by Deloitte has termed high-impact learning organizations (HILOs) are those that integrate and implement solutions that will have the greatest influence on the performance of the company while doing the least damage to their budget. This approach is designed to ultimately pay dividends in improving an organization’s bottom line. An analysis of US public companies who met Bersin by Deloitte’s HILO criteria showed that market capitalization for this group grew approximately 3x faster than the market at large between 2008 and 2011.2

HILOs drive more, positive change in their businesses because they are more efficient, effective and aligned to the goals of the business. They have a deep understanding of how learning materials are created and used, as well as the ways learners consume information. For instance, many organizations have integrated e-learning and blended learning platforms, both of which incorporate interactive digital elements that allow for better tracking and analysis. In these environments, content can be reused throughout multiple courses and for various devices, including desktops, smartphones and tablets.

Within HILOs, ultimately content is made available on demand because employees’ needs are dynamic, resulting from experiences happening at work, at any time and in virtually any location. These organizations recognize the importance of performance support by implementing tools, including learning content management systems (LCMS) and other digital resources, that any employee can access as needs arise.

The quality and effectiveness of learning content has a tremendous impact on the differences between high- and low-performing organizations - roughly 83 percent of the variation. This can be seen in the way that organizations lay out their L&D content. Traditionally, learning methodologies relied on a linear framework, going from start to finish, which may work in some situations but doesn’t integrate the lessons learned from the Information Age where we search through multiple channels to find the best answer. Answers are just a Google search away.

Meanwhile, HILOs control the way content is presented across organizational levels and distinct learning groups. They carefully develop the architecture of learning content once so that it can be adapted, reused and repurposed without ever having to create repetitive L&D materials. They adhere to established standards and make use of an LCMS to constantly review and maintain content. In the end, they optimize experiences through every available platform.

How single-source authoring and publishing transforms L&D organizations
Single-sourced content breeds organizational agility because content is created just once and can be adjusted to fit the needs of various learning communities. Digital platforms aligned through one or many learning management systems can update information instantly across devices. Information is presented seamlessly, in a uniform manner. Content is reusable, meaning it can be applied in multiple iterations without compromising the quality of information, which maintains consistency.

Single source fosters collaboration between subject matter experts and instructional designers, ensuring the information is accurate and up to date, while also being displayed through a platform that responds to the way employees learn. For instance, mobile performance support, rated highly effective by 62 percent of learning organizations, gives employees the content they need when they need it as they perform their job functions. Designers are free to express their creativity by integrating learning content items.

Most importantly, it addresses the demand for informal learning, which includes on-the-job experiences, mentoring and projects. Seventy-two percent of companies said informal learning is the most valuable approach. With single-source authoring and publishing, L&D organizations can develop robust learning portals, forums, and social networks that provide access to on-demand learning materials but also support social learning.

Click here to learn more about single source authoring and publishing.

1. High-Performance Mobile Learning Maturity Model: Framework for Progress, Brandon Hall Group
2. The High-Impact Learning Organization Series: Maturity Model and Best Practices in the Leadership, Governance and Management of Corporate Learning, Bersin & Associates/David Mallon, Janet Clarey, Mark Vickers, September 2012


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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