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Time to Check in on Continuous Learning

As corporations and educational institutions either exult in or struggle with the evolution of learning, debates continue to rage over the myriad of technologies available to achieving success. According to Bersin by Deloitte, annual spends on learning are back to pre-2008 levels. Brandon Hall is reminding us to connect learning to organizational goals. Watch your KPIs! There is much to sort through. At the end of the day, one change in perspective is going to make all the difference: We simply must stop considering learning to be a one-time event and to approach learner success with a continuous learning strategy in mind. Here are the top five things you need to consider when mapping out a continuous learning plan for your organization.

1. Can you provide a continuous learning environment for your employees?

Despite the non-stop discussions over the appropriate selection of learning management systems, and despite the fact that 42% of organizations are looking for a new LMS, an LMS alone is not the solution. These discussions miss the point. Yes, you need a high quality LMS to track learning, manage learning plans and competencies, and depending on the nature of your business, be able to provide a rich set of data to see how learning is supporting your organization's business strategy. But in the absence of the easy access to resources, company communications, and access to experts and peers, the LMS itself is not going to get you to where you need to be. Let's break it down further.

2. What kind of support can you offer for completing everyday tasks?

Learning happens every day on the job, and part of the way to help your employees perform better is access to the resources they need to get the job done. Whether it's a library of best practices, sales presentations, product specifications, case studies, etc., how easy is it for your teams to find the information they need to meet the needs of your customers?

3. Where are your experts hiding?

How easy is it for employees at any level of the organization to get help when training and resources don't provide them with what they need to know? What is the mechanism for requesting help? It should not be phone or email. And reverse the roles and ask yourself, how easy is it for experts to keep up with the requests? Mentoring is key to a solid continuous learning strategy, and you should be providing the tools and processes to make this happen.

4. How engaging is the actual training you provide?

None of this is meant to diminish the importance of well-designed and professionally executed training. There's a YouTube video out there for nearly everything, and we love Khan Academy and the fantastic resources that are out there today that can and should be available to help drive learning and performance. But when you target the 10% of formal learning you need to provide today, don't forget to bring along your instructional design team and make it worth your learner's while.

5. How connected are your employees to the successes and failures of your organization?

Another vital component of your continuous learning environment should be regular communications from senior leadership as to how your company is doing. An environment in which your CEO can report by blog, video post, etc. about recent wins and even losses makes for a cohesive ecosystem in which everyone understands the part they play. Lessons learned through this type of communications strategy are no less important than those in a 5-minute video or one-hour training module.

Continuous learning is a key strategy for success in the workplace. Promoting continuous learning is something we should start doing in kindergarten and throughout one's formal education. And once people get to the workplace, we should have the tools to support continuous learning and company success.

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As of January 2024, Rewriting Paradigms is back and I'm writing about today's  issues, those that most test us and our humanity.

Designs2Learn blogs were originally published on a separate site devoted solely to educational issues. 

With the release of the Rewriting Paradigms site, we' ported them over to their new home.

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