Kevin Costner was told in Field of Dreams, “build it and they will come”. This mindset may work for an Iowa corn farmer and a magical baseball team, but unfortunately, it will NOT work for new Learning and Training Programs.
For the past 15 years, Knowledge Anywhere has witnessed or supported hundreds of organizations deploy learning programs. We have witnessed the entire spectrum of success. We have seen learning initiatives flop with the “build it and they will come” model, we have seen fast starts with gradual decreases in usage after a couple of months, and we have also seen perfect examples of implementation that have resulted in the learning programs exceeding initial business objectives. From all of these experiences, we have established a set of elements that demonstrate the best practices to ensure the success of your training and education programs.
To successfully obtain the short-term traction and long term results you desire from an online learning program, these are the elements that will prove paramount to your success:
- You must first realize that if the target audience does not know about the new training system, they will not participate, and the desired results will not be realized. (Simple, but the basic concept is sometimes lost).
- Do not forget about WIIFM (What is in it for ME). Highlight why the new learning system is good for the target audience. (i.e. it will help them do their job better, it will save them time looking for training, and it will support their career growth….)
- Over communicate the online learning with references on related websites, newsletters, email campaigns, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Everyone who interacts with the target audience should be aware of the program (i.e. Field Sales, Inside Sales, and Call Center teams).
- Use physical media to highlight the availability of training (i.e. getting started cards, posters, mouse pads, table tents in conference rooms, etc.)
- It takes humans 5-7 times of hearing or reading a message before it is committed to memory. So, it will be hard to over communicate the opportunity of a new learning system.
- Have obtainable and measurable goals for the online learning center (i.e. 1,000 new users by March 25; 5,000 users by April 20, and 3,000 completed courses by July 20).
- Make sure to measure and communicate progress on a monthly basis.
Access and Ease of Use
- Create easy access to the training (minimize barriers).
- Enable easy visibility for learners to see the courses they need to take as well as completed courses.
Substantial and Meaningful Content
- The learning site needs to provide relevant content that will keep the target audience engaged in the site.
- Update your new site frequently. A new course or updated content should be available on a regular basis. Take this opportunity to communicate the additional material to all learners.
- Connect the online training with in-person training, national meetings, and webinars.
- Obtain senior leadership support and communicate results.
Incentivize and Promote Engagement
- Highlight and praise participation a success.
- Brainstorm ideas for a fun contest to help jump start the program.
- Highlight and praise performance improvements based upon learning participation.
- Respond immediately to feedback or suggestions.
At the end of the day, if you do not over-communicate your new learning platform, you will feel like you are standing in a very expensive baseball field with no one in the stands.
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