Learning Beyond Knowledge Transfer

Learning and development is once again rising to the top of the agenda. Budgets may be smaller, but good learning principles are not constrained by cost.

Indeed, research from Xpert HR conducted last year found that more than two-thirds of employers that found their training budgets cut did not see a corresponding decrease in the efficiency of learning and development.

HR departments have become more innovative in the way they deliver training, and in doing so have managed to demonstrate value through good theory and practice, rather than simply throwing money at the learning and development program.

As just one example, Charlotte Wolff, XpertHR's training editor, highlighted: "Some employers have had to find ways to reduce their training outlay and, by using line managers as an additional resource, they have not only cut costs but have also improved the engagement and morale of the managers themselves."

Putting Learning and Development Initiatives into Practice

Recent research from Video Arts found that while 90 percent of companies are still employing traditional classroom-based training for learning and development, other techniques are growing in popularity.
According to its poll, 85 percent now use video clips, 49 percent use self-authored eLearning, 45 percent buy in eLearning tools, and 11 percent are now incorporating mobile within their learning and development strategy.

One of the most effective ways in which companies can ensure knowledge is transferred in a way that is most applicable to its unique learning environment is through simulation based training.

Coca Cola employed the technique in executing its 2020 Vision, and engaged BTS to deliver simulations modeled extremely closely with the "competitive environment, organizational structure, and internal business issues", allowing people to directly apply the learnings to their everyday role.

Peter Mulford, an executive vice president at BTS, writing for TrainingMag, explained: "Simulations are particularly effective for sophisticated strategy execution," and the more realistic the simulations are the better.

Essentially, these simulations allow for decision making within a risk-free environment. According to BTS, effective simulations should be user driven, outcome focused, planned for a specific target audience and designed to build a sense of community.

Learning in the Digital Age

Apple is recognized as being at the forefront of technology trends, and its recent launch of iBook textbooks suggest the concept of eLearning is here to stay.

The new application for the iPad allows users with Mac computers to even develop their own textbooks and guides to be downloaded at the iBook store.

Cost has been seen as one of the major advantages of eLearning, but the benefits of adopting an eLearning strategy go beyond this.

"One of the biggest drivers of eLearning is the litigious nature of our culture and all of the government regulations. We need to be careful not to be sued or out of compliance," Tom Kuhlmann, editor of The Rapid ELearning Blog, said.

However, as with all learning and development disciples, a one-size fits all approach could make eLearning more of a burden than an asset.

Dr. David Guralnick, president of the International ELearning Association, said organizations looking to implement eLearning still face "a number of challenges", in particular with acceptance from employees.

"This mainly comes down to the overall design and vision for a company's eLearning products - courses or just-in-time systems.

"All too often, employees are asked to read text and click through pages - they find this boring and not all that relevant to their jobs, which are generally about skills and applications - not about memorizing facts," he concluded.