10 ideas for spring cleaning your e-learning garden

by | Mar 18, 2011 | Articles

We invest a lot of time and money into our learning technologies but are often disappointed that our ideas and projects just don’t take root and get embedded into the organisations we support.

So, inspired by the signs of growth in our parks and gardens, it might be time to take a look at how we can spring clean our own e-learning estate & prepare to increase our success later on in the year!

There are 3 things to consider as part of an e-learning spring clean. The first is to clean up, the next is to prepare and the third is to start planting!

Step 1 – Cleaning up

The recession has driven a massive uptake of traditional e-learning programmes but it is difficult to implement new ideas if your organisation is covered with the debris from a previous season. Over the next few weeks why not start the clean up process by reviewing your current e-learning offering?

1. Consider what debris is lying around- why not start a review of your current e-learning offering or your marketing programmes? How relevant are they? Do they map your business’s current priorities? If you don’t know, try asking!

2. What needs to be up-rooted and binned? How many programmes are you currently offering that are doing more harm than good?  How many are putting staff off from trying new ideas? How many have been driven purely by the technology and not by the need (be honest now!)

3. What needs to be tidied up or moved to a different position? – are your programmes too long, too short, too fussy, too old? Should they be more integrated with your face to face offering or reengineered for a new season?

Step 2 – Prepare

4. Understand the microclimate – gardeners understand when the last frosts are due, what the PH of their soil is so that they can plan the timing of their next step. Many organisations are facing change at the moment and uncertainty slows growth but looking at the wider business issues can help us to plan. Is there a merger going on that in the future will create an opportunity for new uses of technology for learning and sharing? Is the L&D department currently being restructured? – will the new department need to take a fresh look at the way they use technology in learning? if yes, then what can we do now to use these circumstances to get ready for the future?

5. Take an Inventory. Avid gardeners pouring over catalogues as spring approaches, but they also conduct an inventory to understand what they need to order moving forward. Why not take a fresh look at what technologies are already in use in the business or are available for free that you can start to harness and build into your plans.  If someone else has already made the case for online meetings or the use of social media then find out about it and piggy back on their success.  Taking a media inventory will help stretch your budget and save time in the long run.

6. Sharpen Your Tools. Blunt tools can be dangerous to both the plants and the gardener. In the same way, when it comes to using learning technologies, blunt skills of learning and development professionals can potentially poison learners and seriously damage the reputation of a new initiative. 3 out of 5 organisations say that L&D skills are a barrier that restricting the growth of e-learning in organisations, now is the time to take action and build your own skills.

7. Pruning and reshaping. In preparing the garden for e-learning success, we need to know what to prune back. Are some programmes taking up too much time or too many resources for the position that they are in? Sometimes it is useful to restructure a programme to bring it back to life. On other occasions, it might be helpful to cut out elements of existing programmes completely if they are no longer necessary or costly to maintain.

8. Preparing the soil. In business, good soil comes from our stakeholder engagement strategy, the more we develop relationships with our stakeholders, understanding and responding to needs,  the more likely our programmes are to take root and produce fruit. Gardeners find that hard frosts make it almost impossible to dig at the time but once the sun starts to come out, the frost has actually broken up the ground, making it much easier to prepare for planting.   If organisational changes have frozen your relationships with stakeholders, keep an eye out for signs of upturn or fresh opportunities within the business. As you emerge from times of austerity, keep an eye out for fresh ways of re-engaging with stakeholders , you may find that they receive new ideas with fresh enthusiasm.

Step 3 – Start planting

9. Select the right plants for the right spot. Now is not the time to just plant self paced learning, or online classrooms or just social media or video. As part of the spring clean, it’s important that you use your understanding from step 2 to make sure that you select the right learning technologies for the job in hand.

10. Start Your Seeds. Don’t forget to use pilots to help you plant new ideas. Piloting a new programme with a few users in a sheltered spot helps you adapt it and nuture it so that it is fit for transplanting into  your whole organisation. Only 40% of organisations complete and report on pilot projects when it comes to e-learning but those that do consistently report better results.

The spring time challenge for all of us is to not just to admiring the colour in everyone else’s garden but to do some spring cleaning in our own so that we can start to prepare the ground for great results this year.

Why not visit in the Towards Maturity Benchmark Centre to find out how your current implementation programme compares with your peers. It will help you kick start your spring clean – find out more here.

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