A look at real problems—with new solutions.
By Piers Lea
Learning technologies are coming of age at last, and where they have been deployed strategically, we are seeing some amazing results.
Working with the European Learning Industry Group (where I chair the market place group) we have compiled a top 10 of results-based stories where the bottom line has been affected, which will be released soon. These are truly impressive and derive from organizations seeing learning technology as part of a well-designed and strategic blend—not classroom versus “e,” not one method versus another, but the optimal combination to suit different situations.
But to be able to deliver blends, you have to have the right strategic structure in place. We call this a learning architecture. If you like, it’s the blueprint for how your organization learns in the most efficient and effective way.
We believe that the ability and the propensity to think architecturally about learning represents a significant shift in the way it is being conceptualized and planned within organizations. We have observed this shift in action.
What is a learning architecture? Put simply, a learning architecture is a design for learning to meet a particular business goal in a particular situation.
It’s good to have a simple definition. But the simplicity of this definition perhaps underplays the complexity that learning and development professionals have to deal with in today’s networked world of multichannel, multimedia communications, and changed learner expectations. They are faced with a plethora of learning tools and modalities both old and new, with no clear rules or established practise to indicate how best to combine them. It is, of course, both a creative and technical process and the challenge is to help clients across all aspects—to deliver the optimal result.
One new channel that we believe will shift the way we view “learning using technology” has now reached an exciting point.
The New Mobility
We see mobile as needing its own strategy.
More than 76 percent of the 600 companies surveyed in 2011 by Towards Maturity said they planned to implement mobile learning in the next two years.
Meanwhile, experience working across a range of sectors, including defence and automotive, indicates that the more intimate relationships that users tend to forge with their mobile devices (as opposed to their desktop PCs) make people far more likely to use them for a variety of knowledge-related work activities ranging from learning to fast information search. Smartphones and tablets, it seems, are becoming a major driver for the uptake of technology-supported learning and communications in large organizations now.
Some examples of these:
Fire Control Orders
This program, the first in the U.K. defence sector to use the iPad platform, was commissioned by the Royal School of Artillery (RSA) to help train U.K. troops in the use of Fire Control Orders (FCO) on operation. This transformational training app provides a multiplayer environment for use inside and outside the classroom, and has significantly improved the overall efficiency of training in this vital subject area, improving levels of learner motivation, reducing the costs of training, and—most crucially—reducing training fade. “Mobile” means that training can continue in theatre right up to the point of applying the training.
Platform: iPod Touch/iPhone
Ford of Britain needed help to pilot an innovative application for iPhones and iPods designed to assist sales executives explain some of the features on the C-MAX and Grand C-MAX. The application contains a series of high-quality 3-D movies that explain how new technologies—such as Blind Spot Information System and Speed Limiter—work. The application also ensures that a wealth of technical and sales data is available at the salesperson’s fingertips—there’s no need for them to leave the showroom floor or keep the customer waiting while they retrieve information. The app is customer-facing too, and can be publically downloaded via the Apple App Store.
Vehicle Maintenance Support
Platform: iPod Touch/classroom
In this project, a vehicle maintenance support system on the iPod Touch was created for the MOD. The program provides point-of-need information for the service engineers of armoured support vehicles. The system involves both diagnostic tools as well as regular maintenance checklists. Furthermore, the checks and actions for all vehicle maintenance programs can be relayed to the central system for general monitoring.
Client: British Airways
Platform: Workshop, desktop portal and e-learning, iPAD
British Airways created a series of leadership development programs known as Behaviors for Success, that are crucial to the successful delivery of British Airways’ People Strategy. The primary purpose of this program is to create a common behavioral language and toolset for senior leaders to support the urgent cultural and organizational changes required in the current economic climate.
As part of British Airways’ Behaviors for Success program, a blended learning program was designed and delivered—comprising a two-day workshop, video scenarios, online and offline activities, printed materials, social networking, blogs, and support tools.
Following an initial six-month assessment, the results of the program showed a significant impact on the organization, with learning being maintained and used, consistency in language and behaviors being demonstrated, and communications and relationships being vastly improved.
All of the learning modules, videos, and online challenges have also been redesigned for iPad delivery and are available via the BA internal app store. The leadership initiative has recently won a prestigious Branson Hall award.
Piers Lea is CEO of LINE Communications and chairman of the ELIG (European Learning Industry Group) Marketplace Group.