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The E-coach Blog
By Alison Bickford on May 28, 2012
We are developing a leadership program and need to sustain it beyond 2012. We want to look at learning technology options to help us do this. What do you suggest?
This is a great question because the client is thinking ahead. With tightening budgets, strains on resources and incoming carbon tax, it’s good to take the opportunity to think about learning technology options that will help sustain a new organisation-wide program such as leadership development.
Leadership development is about acquiring tools, frameworks and perspectives. It’s then about applying what is learnt into the workplace and reflecting on outcomes. Effective leadership programs use an action learning approach, where learners reflect upon their own actions and experience to develop their judgement and improve their performance. Real value lies in the stories of peers and the guidance of a skilled facilitator.
Let’s take a look at some e-learning options for a leadership development program:
1. E-Learning courseware via a LMS
Although self-directed e-learning courseware can present tools and frameworks for new leaders to learn about, this learning design approach is self-limiting. Such courses are completed in isolation and are typically stuck in a LMS, meaning there is inflexibility in accessing these frameworks later, at the point of need (I note Harvard Manage Mentor has a mobile app which can be used if your organisation has deployed HMM on a certain platform).
2. Short videos
Short “how to” videos for performance support can be rapidly developed in PowerPoint and produced in Camtasia. An example is a short video on the 5 steps to preparing a performance management discussion.
Another kind of short video, where experts share stories and experiences, can help new leaders develop metaperspectives and reflect upon their own practice (see examples from Harvard Business). Videos are powerful because it’s media rich and flexible - they can be deployed and hyperlinked in many places. Videos can easily be accessed on mobile devices through a simple content management system.
3. Virtual Classroom
Tools, frameworks and videoed experts don’t necessarily help new leaders reflect upon their practice. As Prensky says, “we learn judgment through hearing stories, asking questions and making choices & getting feedback and coaching” (reference).
One of the simplest ways an organisation can provide new leaders with feedback, coaching and peer networking opportunities is through virtual classroom (webinar, web conferencing) where the learning design is participative, challenging and thought provoking (rather than push/unidirectional content). One such example is a series of 4-5 one hour sessions where issues are discussed and frameworks are introduced, workshopped and debriefed once they’ve been practiced in the workplace. Example topics that can be readily designed in this way include change management, coaching techniques, performance management, business fundamentals and budgeting.
The whiteboard and annotation tools enable virtual classroom participants to share their experiences, ideas and worked examples. The visibility and instantaneousness of collaborative whiteboard exercises far surpases teleconference. For examples, why not take a look at my video series on virtual classroom learning design.
4. “Serious” games
Games are being developed for new leaders to role play characterisations, make decisions and experience consequences. The games must be emersive and authentic to work. Specialised debriefing is required to manage the fallout of failure. Unfortunately, at this time entry point cost to develop a serious game can be prohibitive.
5. SMS, online quizzes and Apps
Daily SMS of key messages or quotations from thought leaders can help keep outcomes from the leadership program in mind. Quick online or mobile quizzes can help participants become more confident of their capability through self-assessment. Mobile apps can be developed to aggregate these purposes, but this is generally an expensive option.
Blended learning and development costs
A so called ‘blended learning’ approach enables the best of all worlds (see example below). At first, this delivery approach could seem more costly to develop than a classroom-only program. However, the reduction in participant travel and accommodation costs, and techniques to embed learning into the workplace through peer networks and performance support can make the ROI of blended learning attractive. Let’s take a look:
Once the content of a leadership program has been developed, simply extrapolate the frameworks and models for video development for point-of-need performance support as described above. Put these videos as close to the workflow of your leaders as possible, such as an intranet or Sharepoint site, and be sure to make it a requirement of the program to access these. In fact, think about making these available to all staff – a ‘democratisation’ of content.
Spend some money and professionally video your organisation’s leaders – those that present their leadership craft well, and are respected by staff. These videos can be re-used in many places in the organisation.
Virtual classroom can be used to pre-brief classroom training, check in during workplace application, to deliver content and to facilitate discussion. All that’s required is some thoughtful learning design in PowerPoint that can then be uploaded into the whiteboard area of the virtual classroom for discussion and sharing. Many organisations already have a virtual classroom as part of their teleconferencing supplier agreement.
The Bottom line….
Technology can enable content to be highly accessible. It can enable action learning, supported through facilitation and peer sharing. It can provide a mobile option for performance support and reflection. The technolgy options available to most organisations are inexpensive and highly editable.
The trick is to:
- Write the program first
- Know how to design good learning using video and virtual classroom - or seek help, if you need it
- Know how to facilitate participative virtual classroom – or seek help, if you need it
- Be prepare to iterate your learning designs in the early days of roll-out – running a pilot is a good idea
- Decide upon a quality standard, and develop outputs to this standard – near enough isn’t good enough
- Don’t forget to manage the change required of participants to learn via these technologies
By Alison Bickford on May 4, 2012
Podcast 23 is the first of a series of three tutorials exploring social media platforms for formal and informal social learning in organisations. This podcast covers things to think about when choosing a social media platform.
Why not download this free e-learning training resource from iTunes
Or read the transcript
Or watch the entire free e-learning tutorial series on our YouTube Channel (podcast 23 is embedded below)