Over the last several weeks I’ve blogged about change management when introducing a learning technology (e-learning) strategy (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4). Today is the final post on the topic of change management, exploring things to think about to manage end user expectations and accountability. I will examine the topic from the perspective of both corporate learners and paying customers.
We’ll look at this topic from four parameters:
1. Managing expectations
Many end users have an established mental model of what learning is and where it occurs – in a classroom, with a trainer. There is a certain reward for having a day off to attend classroom-based learning. Putting training online doesn’t mean the end user will automatically want to access it – it may simply not be as attractive any more.
Creating a ‘one stop shop’ for online learning and resources takes time to develop traction. There needs to be an imperative for the learner to go there. And, once they are there, the learner needs to think it is valuable.
Finally, in this age of web-based applications, mobile devices and personalised platforms, many of today’s learning platforms are simply ugly and awkward, leaving staff and paying customers dismayed. Usability and visual appeal needs to be top of mind when choosing a learning platform.
Change management tips: It’s all about understanding end user perceptions and managing expectations. Engage an end user focus group to help you to understand expectations. Use a pilot group to test the platform and online courses, and ask useful questions that will guide your design and implementation.
When offering e-learning for payment, it is very important to demonstrate value for money. This can be done in several ways, such as providing an example snippet of the course, testimonials and providing a resource for free to demonstrate expertise before purchase. Think online retail shopping websites as an interesting comparator to buying learner access to an e-learning course.
2. Making accountability clear
One of the most powerful advantages of learning technologies is the ability to record and report upon end user access and completion. Such systems-based record keeping and associated consequences needs to be explained to end users – it is more transparent than a paper-based sign-in sheet for classroom-based training.
Typically, a Learning Management System (LMS) provides the following report parameters: Start time/date, last accessed, duration (total time), number of sessions (access per course), percentage completion, completion and pass mark. Other platforms also provide user analytics. Online learning for formal qualifications require teachers to be specific in the level of engagement required for assessment.
Change management tips: Be overt about what can be reported upon in a learning ‘system’ and what the policy of the L&D Administrator is in relation to acting upon non-completions. Provide examples of appropriate e-assessments to help learners know what to aspire.
3. Learning self-management, self-directedness and digital literacy
Typically, these are new skills required by the online learner. It should not be assumed that all end users have skills in learning online or the wherewithal to deal with navigating a new online environment.
Change management tips: Provide ‘how to’ resources to help end users become familiar with the technology. Give managers the techniques to help end users learn to learn online.
4. Online expression
Being able to write an online profile, to express yourself online, to share and collaborate are also new skill for many online learners. These skills are important in online communities of practice, discussion forums, blogs and wikis. They are also important when your strategy involves enabling end users to create and share content such as podcasts and videos.
Change management tips: Recognise skill development is graduated. Provide examples of simple online exchanges. Provide ‘how to’ guides. Facilitate online spaces to keep them orderly, interesting and fresh. Praise positive online behaviour.