This two-part article presents 10 guidelines to think about as you come to understand your workforce and design targeted training. Part 1 focuses on the elements needed to define learning goals and objectives, understand the diverse needs of workforces, create the value and benefit in learning, designing targeted training, and blending formal training and informal learning.
Part 2 focuses on personalizing targeted training, using enabling technologies, painting learning “thought” road maps, developing targeted training models and building a framework for the future of targeted training in your organization.
These two parts, taken as a whole, are the foundation for understanding the workforce and designing targeted training.
Personalizing Targeted Training
Guideline 6: The personalization of learning is a significant industry trend, making inroads in the design of targeted training.
Defined by the consumer, personalization is no longer a nicety but a necessity, and almost all industries have come to realize that at the very core of what they do is customer satisfaction.
Today, a major component of customer satisfaction is personalization. It is a requirement to be able to provide existing and new customer bases with the products and services that the individual customers need and want. This is the key to a long-lasting and mutually profitable relationship.
It is no longer acceptable to build generic, one-size-fits-all products or services — the more customizable the product or service provided, the better. If it can’t be tailored, tweaked, adjusted, rearranged or molded to individual needs and requirements, it is not acceptable.
The learning industry is no different, and education and training are not exempt. For years, corporate education and training advertised their wares as “one size fits all.” Customers were not necessarily happy about what they received, but they were not willing to forego whatever they could acquire in the way of formal education and training.
This is no longer the case — educated consumers realize technology enables learning to assume that characteristic and necessary individuation, and they increasingly are demanding personalization in their learning programs.
Can this be accomplished? Can formal training programs and informal learning be designed so that significant levels of personalization can be achieved? The answer must be yes.
Adding the personal touch to learning programs makes for a better learning program. Understanding who the learning audience is, its key characteristics, and its collective and individual challenges should lead to heightened sensitivity about what people need to do, what they need to know in order to be able to do these things and what information they need to fill gaps in their knowledge.
Using Enabling Technologies
Guideline 7: Enabling technologies are critical components for designing and delivering targeted training.
You might say there is a revolution in the development and use of training and learning technology. And while the formal training is not going away, these technologies are being driven into use in the delivery of formal training for many reasons, including the need to:
What are some of these new technologies and why is it important to know about them?
First, it is important to remember there is a generational aspect to all this — younger learners entering the workforce have used technology for many years, and they expect technology to be part of everything they do in the workplace. “Generation.org” grew up with technology and is as accepting of the advancing technological developments as possible.
Today the use of live, real-time delivery of information in the physical classroom or virtual, online, live classroom is often blended with other forms of delivery modalities such as self-paced exercises, Web-based training and other forms of knowledge transfer, training and education delivery. Learning management systems, learning content management systems and other systems offer integrated functions so that you can create, manage, deliver, track, analyze and report learning progress for groups or individuals from a single integrated system.
Yet quite often, new learning technologies arrive on the scene. Educators need to know about them and understand them to harness their power in the learning world.
Reading any industry journal, magazine or publication, you find a new lexicon of terms and terminology. Blogs, moblogs, wikis — this is the new language of collaboration and communication. And they all will affect training and learning.
Painting Learning “Thought” Road Maps
Guideline 8: Create a thought road map for your workforce based on the learning needs of the individual.
In all of this, the focus must be on the individual and his or her learning needs. We cannot forget this, no matter what we develop or want to build. The focus must be on our target audience, and learners must understand their role in learning and how it will be beneficial to them.
Developing Targeted Training Models
Guideline 9: Create a targeted, but flexible, training model that works for your organization and use it as the standard for designing training to consider the “many and the individual.”
Targeted training — what does it all look like, and how do you put the disparate, yet integrated, parts and pieces together? How do you pull together a model for formal training, informal learning, personalization, contextualization and all the development considerations learned over the years from models such as Bloom’s Taxonomy? Consider the use of technology to increase the level of personalization in delivering formal training and informal learning.
Building a Framework for Targeted Training
Guideline 10: Plan for the future by focusing strategically, as well as tactically, on building an organizational framework for targeted training.
This framework needs to consider all the elements as part of an overall targeted training methodology. The future success of our worldwide workforce rests on our understanding of who they are, what they need, when they need it. It rests on our ability to look ahead, to anticipate, to plan, develop and deliver learning programs on an ongoing basis. It rests on our ability to provide what our workforce needs without our workforce ever having to ask to be trained or to have the opportunity to learn.
Formal training, informal learning, the application of personalization and the setting of knowledge and information transferred in context is the way of the past, present and future. Technology too plays a major part in the development and delivery of knowledge and information. Applied appropriately, technology can open portals to learning never before expected or anticipated.
Educators have no choice but to acknowledge and embrace technology. Learners already are using technologies to accelerate their ability to access and apply new knowledge. Experimentation and innovation are critical as we move forward.
This two-part article has focused on 10 guidelines for workforce development, which were presented for consideration in developing and delivering targeted training. In summary, these guidelines are:
Consider these 10 guidelines as you think about your organization and what is needed today, as well as what will be needed tomorrow.
If, as suggested, we are moving toward a creative economy, then we as managers, educators and learners need to move forward, too. That might mean taking the lessons we have learned in our long history of education and training and designing what we need to for the journey ahead.
It means being as innovative as we can be and as open-minded as we can be about what training and learning means. It means really looking at how we can use some of the exceptional technologies in the marketplace today and being ready to investigate and use them as the new technologies emerge.
We need to apply, adapt, create and innovate to ensure formal training and informal learning are wrapped with the personalization and context needed to help our people be as successful as possible.
And if we can do that, training for the many and learning for the one will become the reality it needs to be. By understanding our workforce, we can design targeted, effective meaningful training. When individuals are successful, the enterprise succeeds, and that means everyone wins now and in the years to come.
Amy Finn, Ph.D., is the vice president of business development for Saba Software. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.