Thursday, October 07, 2010

Laura Overton is a tireless campaigner, so it's good to see this earlybird summary of Toward Maturity's Benchmark study. Most of the findings confirm a steady movement towards the use of technology in learning, but one (growth in language training) is just plain odd. However, I do think it avoids the hard hitting stuff, like; inevitable reduced public sector training, the failure of 'leadership' training, the reduction of dated compliance courses on diversity etc, reduced need for induction etc. I've given a couple of talks to public sector audiences on 'Training after the cuts' and this needs to be addressed at the next level of detail, namely how can we do more for a lot less.

However, that's not to take anything away from the higher level points:

The recession has had a positive influence on the use of learning technologies for most organisations, but 1 in 5 also found that their plans had been curtailed

As expected, cost saving pressure has led to an acceleration of the use of e-learning, tempered by overall budget cuts. As organisations are forced to do more for less, the scalability of e-learning on courses is the obvious strategy. Old guard are being forced to cut back on expensive, non-scalable classroom stuff and use scalable solutions. A new sense of urgency is pushing technology solutions in learning. I also sense that the recession is pushing some older trainers into earlier than planned retirement, allowing the younger one’s to express themselves and get on with the task.

Our appetite for learning technologies has increased significantly in last 18 months- there has been a considerable increase in demand for more access (at less cost); improved compliance; and better support of the rollout of new products, processes, IT systems and change.

As technology gets cheaper, faster, better, wireless and easier to use, it’s much easier to get the whole e-learning gig going. Technology is becoming less and less of a barrier. But th real lesson is a renewed focus on ‘performance’. Out goes those hokey courses on ‘creativity’ and other abstract nouns, along with lots of touchy-feely nonsense, and in comes core competences.

Technology tools and options continue to expand but we are currently not taking advantage of the full range of options available.

Not surprised here. Blended learning has always been more of a phrase than a practice. Few really consider the full range of offline and online options when designing learning interventions. Many are simply unaware of the range of options available. It’s still often a blended ‘teaching’ with a Velcro mix of e-learning and classroom.

Very few are planning to decrease their use of current learning technologies but over the next 2 years, social media expect the biggest growth.

Interestingly, fashionable interest in social media may lead to people ignoring the many (often better and more efficient) online alternatives. However, opportunities also exist for the important use of social media. The ‘formal only’ camp is fighting a losing battle.

More organisations are embedding technology in more skills programmes than in 2008, with health & safety, leadership & management and foreign language skills showing the biggest changes.

Health & safety is a boring, bread and butter topic that can be easily covered by e-learning. Leadership & management I’m not so sure about. This whole recession was caused by flawed ‘leadership’. If we keep pushing this button we’ll be taking one step forward and two steps back. And foreign language skills? Surely not. This must be a statistical blip caused by a skew in the sample. Most organisations don’t do this at all and why would there be a rush for such skills in times of recession?

In terms of working with external providers for skills programmes, over 80% of organisations say that innovative use of learning technology will be a deciding factor in their selection of an external learning provider in the future.

I should think so. Simply a matter of the training world catching up with the real world.

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