Training Needs To Get Plucked


Did any of you read the article posted at Chief Learning Officer’s site, “When Employees Hack Learning – and Why That’s a Good Thing”? If not check it out – short and sweet – and right on the money. Evidence of this “hacking” also shows up as something that many LMS administrators see in their reporting summaries as a negative signal – Course Incompletions – courses forever in “In Progress” status, and likely never to be completed. This is NOT a negative indicator of the value of training content, but it IS a negative indicator of how we are providing learning content.

Courses rest in the LMS as In Progress forever and ever because the learner accessed the course – plucked the content that was relevant to their need at the moment – and bailed, never to return. The evidence is screaming at us.  They did NOT need a training course to satisfy a moment of learning need.  They only needed a “chunk” of it, and I bet that that “chunk” was task-specific.

Check your LMS stats just for grins, and start plotting how many “In Progress” courses you have, and keep on tracking it. I wager that you will see that number steadily increase. That is not a negative as much as it is evidence that there is a greater need for smaller, targeted, role-centric, learning objects that are task-specific. It is important to note that when and where those objects are needed is not during training, but in the downstream, post-training work context. Workers are @ the point of work.

I’ll be the first to admit that the LMS is a very unfriendly place to go and try to pluck the learning content needed to satisfy a performance moment. Solution? Web services-based portals with search capability enable learners to plug in keywords/phrases/process or task names/form names/etc. to gain direct access to downloadable/viewable content specific to their task-level needs in the workflow. This technology spans from simple [and free] WordPress platforms to highly functioned electronic performance support systems (EPSS). Where your organization falls along that spectrum of technology is a matter of significant importance to the agility of the workforce and competitive viability of the organization. If it is not already there, it should become part of the learning strategy for the organization.

Our job [Training’s] requires shifting the design paradigm to align more closely to workflows and processes that we now only offer training for our people to execute flawlessly. Keep training if so inclined, but design it in a way that those same objects can be plucked at the moment of need by those who have the need. And that’s NOT plucking from the LMS. We see training on the LMS getting plucked because that is the only place the content exists, not because it was ever intended to support that effort. Workplace needs have changed, and the LMS is NOT aligned with that need, nor is it the technology tool of choice to satisfy it.

Plucking is good. It’s happening at an ever-increasing pace. A technology savvy user population is asking for it by their actions. Isn’t that reason enough to shift our content design, development, and delivery models to match the needs of the population that pays the rent on our training cost center?

Methinks it is, and our [Training’s] paradigm is way over due for an evolutionary step toward the new ground zero for learning @ the point of work.


Gary Wise
Learning & Performance Solutions Strategist
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Twitter: Gdogwise