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Form follows function: Platforms can transform the way we learn


We welcome feedback, questions, and insights on the piece below. We learn best when we learn together.

Everyone is familiar with "form follows function". 

When architects design a building, they begin that process by understanding the function - the purpose - of the building.

So,it begs the question: What are the outcomes (the functions) we want from the learners who take part in the learning experiences we structure?

We all know the typical answers to this question. "We want learners who..."
  • take action by applying knowledge
  • collaborate with others, sharing ideas and feedback
  • feel part of a team who can learn from each other
  • are accountable to themselves and others for learning and sharing

Yet, it's ironic that we structure isolated learning in platforms that are largely content repositories, storing videos and PDFs mixed in with an occasional quiz. It's time we re-think how we deliver learning.

We need to re-think our concept that learning and collaboration are somehow separate and distinct from each other. Hear more on that from Derek Luebbe in the video below.

A Better Way to Address ROI
Combing learning & collaboration into our learning experiences solves another long-standing problem. We can re-define how we actually measure ROI. 

Measuring ROI is problematic. David Kelly writes a thought-provoking piece about the disconnect with how we currently think about and measure ROI in terms of training, learning and development. And, here's another good piece by ispringlearning detailing what's needed specifically as it relates to eLearning ROI.

We're all familiar with ROI metrics like:
  • Smile surveys
  • engagement time
  • course completion & badges 
  • quiz scores
  • etc.
The problem: These are all indirect metrics to the function - the purpose -  of what we want. We want to apply our learning to help us do our jobs better - more effectively, more efficiently. 

When we re-think our learning experiences, we can link learning to the actual work that needs to be accomplished. It makes the learning far more engaging and collaborative, and it provides an environment where the actual results (the work, the solutions, the applications of the 'learning') are embedded in the platform and the experience itself. 

We can take traditional ROI questions:
  • Did this training program decrease on-boarding time for our new hires?
  • How many times did learners access the learning? 
  • How much time were users engaged in the learning?
And we combine those with more meaningful questions to provide a richer picture of ROI.
  • How effectively are those new hires performing in Week 1?
  • What ideas did they develop, implement, and share? 
  • How did each individual's ideas improve due to the feedback of others?
  • In what way did this team's learning produce new solutions that will help others outside the team?
  • Are our collaborative experiences changing the culture of our organization?
In summary, when we bridge the disconnect between learning and collaboration, we can build out learning experiences that are connected to the actual work that needs to completed. We simplify the ROI process by shortening the gap between "learning" and "application".

That's a change that we're striving to make a reality.


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