In part 1 of this series, we introduced the 3 main stages of the eLearning lifecycle. In this blog we will discuss the characteristics of an organization at each stage. To review, the 3 main stages of the eLearning lifecycle are:
- Young Sapling, and
- Mature Tree
Stage 1: Sprout
The eLearning lifecycle doesn’t necessarily align with an organization’s age or development – there are plenty of young organizations who have robust eLearning offerings, and the opposite is true as well. Here are a few characteristics of organizations in the Sprout stage:
- Just starting out with education program
- Offers limited in-person training sessions (possibly at annual/regional conferences)
- Some webinars are offered (live and recorded) but nothing regularly scheduled
- Training events happen on a reactionary or “by request” basis.
Stage 2: Young Sapling
Stage 2 is the “Young Sapling” stage. A cohesive learning strategy is starting to take shape and “root” within the organization. In this stage, you may find that your organization:
- Offers annual/regional conference in-person training on a regular basis
- Hosts webinars more frequently, and some are possibly recorded and posted on a website or other platform like a learning management system (LMS)
- Provides other resources (like whitepapers/books/videos) to membership
- Has a board/committee that drives the topics & content
- Develops a strategic education initiative, which includes planning for continuing education requirements (CEUs/CPEs)
Stage 3: Mature Tree
Stage 3 is the Mature Tree stage. In mature tree stage, you may find that your organization:
- Has established training/education plan that is visible to its learners
- Provides multiple training tracks at annual/regional conferences
- Hosts webinars occur on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and are recorded
- Has a robust LMS that provides a central place for learning
- Offers a diverse array of learning content, including but not limited to:
- Instructor-led training (ILT)
- Online, self-paced courses (SCORM/AICC courses)
- Gamified courses
- Drip learning
- Badges/digital credentials
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)
- Training is accredited for CEUs or CPEs
- Is expanding its audience reach to other stakeholders and learners
Getting from Here to There
Now, how do we get from Stage 1 to Stage 3? The short answer is methodically and deliberately. Easy, huh? Well, folks, thanks for your time!
Ok, all kidding aside, let’s look at the longer answer.
Set a Vision for the Future and Take the First Steps
Organizations who want to go grow from one stage to the next do so by taking stock of their current state and then planning for the future. This step may seem unnecessary – of course your organization wants more training. More training is a good thing, right?! But — by doing the work now and setting a vision for your organization, you can create concrete plans to get to that next stage.
For some this means offering mandated compliance training. For others this means offering employees compliance training as well as professional development courses. And for others, this may mean offering your customers the right tools to use your goods and services more easily.
First things first – you should start small but you gotta start somewhere — don’t focus on making this leap overnight. A couple of years ago my wife and I decided to participate with some friends in a 10K race. At the time, I wasn’t exercising regularly, and I sure wasn’t an avid runner. Did I train incrementally leading up to the race? Reader, the answer is a RESOUNDING No. And how well did I do? Well – I’ll put it this way – the street sweepers were at my heels as I crossed the finish line.
Developing an eLearning strategy needs to be a process where you’re not afraid to take a chance and try some experiments. Start small with the big picture in mind; don’t be afraid to fail in these experiments. You can learn a lot from what doesn’t work.
What are your constraints?
To avoid the feeling of “paralysis by analysis,” think about the constraints you have at your organization. For some of you, you immediately picture money as a constraint – and this may be true. I challenge you to think bigger. For example, think about your audience really is – is it internal employees, board members, customers, or all the above? Other constraints to keep in mind are:
- Age of learners
- Language of learners
- Education level of learners
- Access to internet
- Access to a desk computer – does a leaner need to be able to access training on a mobile device?
- What are the workplace demands on them – work environment, etc.?
- What do the learners need to know in order to be successful?
In Part 3 of this series, we will take discuss ways you can take existing training content and how to transform it into something new that adds lasting impact to your learners.
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