Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009 - (Page 13)

LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES | RICK J. CROWLEY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A TRAINING LEADER SHOULD REMEMBER WHEN IT COMES TO TECHNOLOGY DECISIONS IS TO MAKE SURE THE NEEDS OR REQUIREMENTS ARE BEING MET. THE LEARNING TECHNOLOGY RACE T he race to successfully deploy a technology many times becomes an obsession that some liken to chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Many technology decisions are driven by vendors pushing technologies to support their sales and/or what has been defined as a “really cool” technology searching for business applications. These are not technologies that learning leaders should be looking to incorporate unless they truly meet a need. More and more CLOs are buying into the philosophy that learning is the combination of communication, collaboration, information and training. That does not mean any or every technology that is created is a great technology that we should be looking to use. If e-mail had come out recently as a new technology, many would definitely insist that it is a necessary building block for the LMS and push LMS vendors to build it into the application. That may have been a good call, but this is happening at an alarming rate today for learning vendors. Let’s discuss examples of technology that have been identified (at least by some) as important solutions for learning: Wikis and Blogs: Technologies enable us to create more content more quickly. There is a belief in the technology industry that, on average, every company will create content at a pace of 50 percent more year over year. Wikis and blogs fall into that category; they allow content to be published directly to the Web, making it easy for anyone and everyone to publish content. The challenge is for the learner who searches the intranet and Internet for answers to their questions. If there is no control on the content or the way it is published, this will result in too much content, and the possibility of the learner getting the right answer to their question is minimized. Search Engines: Many people see a successful technology and believe that they can replicate that success to solve their business needs. Let’s take the concept of search. Google’s success was based on the very problem we discussed with wikis and blogs. They put together a technology that would “learn” while getting millions of hits to help prioritize the most valuable solutions. Many companies have bought the technology only to find challenges with its ability to learn. They are left to customize the search results, which creates a lot of work that is generally not sustainable. Handheld Devices: There are some people in the industry who believe the iPod or the handheld phone is the answer to the mobile learner. This is one of those I believe to be a great technology looking for training solutions. Handheld devices would be great assets if it would help the learner find an answer to a question that solves a business problem. Social Networks: Facebook and MySpace are great social networking tools. I once had a discussion where a CLO was advocating that the LMS vendor needed to figure out a way to include one or both of these into their product. His argument was the ability to attract the younger generation with tools they have become expert in. If one really thinks about the attraction of Facebook and MySpace, it is the opportunity to be who we are and to share personal things amongst our friends, and it’s growing all the time. If we move, the applications stay with us. Trying to replicate that attraction behind the corporate firewall is not the same. We are expected to be professional, and we are not likely to be able to take the things we share there with us when we leave that company. Summary The most important thing a training leader should remember when it comes to technology decisions is to make sure the needs or requirements are being met. When it comes to collaboration, communication, information and training, the most important things to focus on are defining and implementing processes to maximize the effectiveness of the content in helping the learner. Do not feel the need to chase technologies that have not yet proved themselves. R&D is a great thing as long as you are focused and break off a piece of the problem to see what it will take to make its implementation successful. If you get into the technology race, make sure you understand what is required to win. Rick J. Crowley is an active consultant on learning technology and architecture. Prior to that Rick was senior director, learning systems, for NetApp University, a driving force behind Cisco's e-learning adoption and implementation and held the position of director of technology training for Oracle. E-mail Rick at 13 Training Industry Quarterly, Spring 2009 / A Training Industry, Inc. ezine /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009
The American Heart Association: Learn and Live
Winning Organizations Through People
The Business of Learning
Learning Technologies
Best Practices for Certification Training
7 Strategies for Employee Self-Development
Learning Today: Collaborative, Social and Learner-Driven
Driving Corporate Performance through Learning Partnerships
Meet Dale Towery
Meet Milynda Weis
The American Heart Association: Learn and Live
Closing Arguments

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009