Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Transforming Learning Cultures Through Dynamic E-Learning--Part II--Putting the Pieces in Place for Business

For business organizations to foster all that is required to transform their learning cultures, creating an environment of engagement for employees that appeals to them on the levels of personal relevance, the need to be successful and the drive to make a real and appreciated difference, there is a number of elements that need to be examined. Leadership, roles and areas of opportunity for immediate feedback to employees for their initiatives, collaboratively and individually, are important.

 Ultimately, it comes down to the question:

"How do we harness the most effective technologies to bring about the greatest benefits of both formal learning and informal learning in pursuing a transformation of our learning culture?"

Learning Culture and Leadership

One of the most important elements to consider in creating change is to question how the leadership sees change and what plan they envision for change management within the business organization. The response to this will dictate the shape that the learning culture will take.

 In a learning culture, there needs to be the desire on the part of the leadership to lead by example which means that they consider their own learning a high priority and convey that priority to employees by their own example. This means that they use all of the tools that enhances their learning that the web has to offer through professional organizations, networks and opportunities presented by conferences that involve hands on experiences.


Evolving Roles in Learning Cultures

One of the great fears concerning change is that the role a person has fulfilled for many years within an organization may all of a sudden evaporate causing the loss of employment, transfer to another satellite location that is at a different stage or being thrust into a role that is completely unfamiliar to the person in question.
When you introduce the idea of using E-Learning as a concept for the inspiration, creation and the dissemination of new knowledge and skillsets, roles are transformed so that the work becomes more focused on "knowledge work". Every employee by virtue of a changed focus becomes a knowledge worker and the key goal is learning how to learn and think in an online environment whether it be through a blended E-Learning approach, interactive video collaborative approach or investigative networking in which teams collaborate with other external networks for the purpose of coming up with innovative solutions to complex real world problems that impact the business organization. Change management must be done carefully so as to avoid increased resistance as a result of the fears expressed above.

Credit: Stephen Schillerwein
The obvious question in regards to this extensive level of learning that is required is:

"Who will be able to guide us through this process in a way that won't be disruptive to the flow of our business?"

What is required here is the creation of a new role that I will term as: "The Learning Principles Expert (or Guru)". In a rapidly changing age of information, knowledge and technology, the focus is not on how much content we can force feed employees to help them master their working role within the organization but instead the focus should be on engaging and empowering employees to learn, think and create using all the resources that E-Learning opens up. It is a fact that learners internalize knowledge and skillsets faster when they are intimately engaged in learning that is interactive, dynamic, challenging and empowers them to innovate in a manner that is faithful to the core values of the business organization.

Skillsets of The Learning Principles Expert (or Guru)

The question that should be asked concerning this type of leader is what skillsets and traits should such a person have. The following are only suggestions based upon my own professional experience and background. The LPE should have the following traits and skillsets:

  • He or she should be a person who puts people first before dogma. What that means is simply it is important to consider learners as thinking, feeling and creative individuals who need consideration of their personal situations and forget the idea that they are simply empty vessels to be used as a means to an end.
  • He or she should have considerable academic and practical experience dealing with how adult learners are engaged to sustainable learning in an online environment.
  • He or she should be someone who keeps abreast of important ongoing research on the relationship between pedagogy, technology and change management. These are the three forces that are shaping learning in 21st century societies not only in regards to formal learning but also with regards to the business culture.
  • He or she should be capable of detailing how existing networks would be useful to business organizations and how to create mutually beneficial partnerships in learning and innovation.
  • This leader should be someone who can relate to the learning needs of all levels of the business organization and able to create and track learning profiles and advise on individualized future learning goals that enrich learners' roles within the business organization.
 One piece of advice to offer to recruiters is that in an information, knowledge economy, competition for talent is peaking. It is no longer just enough to post a job posting, wait for the resumes, do the multi-level interviews and hope that you have the right person. You do need to go out and aggressively recruit talent before the competition does. Although a person's "branding" is important, his or her level of expertise and contributions to the greater networks of knowledge should be key guides in making aggressive moves to get to know talent and acquire it. The skillset of knowing how to think effectively in an online environment is a key requirement if we hope to nurture innovative thinking within business organizations from the ground up.
So, what about the roles of people that already exist within the learning culture of the business organization? How will they be transformed and why?
More about these specific roles in the next post! However, the last word on leadership belongs to Dilbert:
[If you think that this is a worthwhile discussion/conversation to have, promote the discussions here through social media so that the conversations can stimulate more thinking on this topic so that we can all grow and acquire an enriched understanding of the usefulness of learning cultures and E-Learning]

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