On the first day of eLearning Guild's eLearning Producer conference, Damien Faughan, Charles Schwab's Director of Infrastructure & Technology, gave a presentation on eLearning in the Post 'New Economy' Business Climate: How to Successfully Re-position eLearning.
Most people who make presentations describe a world without flaws. Everything works, everyone's simpatico, it's smooth sailing, objectives are met, and the boss is happy. Back in the real world, we've endured a lengthy recession, layoffs, disenchantment with anything dot.com-ish, and retrenching. Damien Faughan is the first person I've heard tell the truth about what should happen to eLearning in an economic downturn. I'm a Schwab customer and I respect them even more because they have folks like this fellow who faces reality and makes good decisions in response to a rapidly changing business climate.
Damien spoke about the preoccupation with 'cool' technology that puts coolness ahead of business benefits. This "technolust" has manifested itself in the appearance of every kind of eLearning product -- few of which really served a real business purpose. At the end of the day, all learning needs to be strategic and transformational, learner-centered and focused on contributing to the business.
What differentiated this presentation was the candor with which presenter extracted lessons learned from real life. Learning professionals need to think like business people when business conditions change. We can't remain married to learning solutions when business environment changes.
Among the lessons:
Many things have changed:
Executive management should be engaged as sponsors of learning initiatives. They need to understand the role of learning and the appropriate use of various learning modalities. One of the ways this is accomplished is to create a Learning & Development Committee or a Curriculum Council comprised of executives who review and sponsors each new initiative.
The learning/eLearning function must focus on:
In the past, T&D employees needed to be able to deliver stand-up classes, manage vendors, design, assess & evaluate. The new vision requires new skills, such as:
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