eLearning, to me, seems like an exciting new field that has barely been tapped and which has a wide open future. However, no matter how exciting and universal it seems, it is really a subset of training, instruction, education, etc. So, before I really embark on this adventure in eLearning, maybe I should think about the larger world of Training from which it springs.
First things first... like many others engaged in the fields of Training and eLearning, I am interested primarily in business and professional applications. This means that my focus is going to be on adult learning in an organizational context. The business of training and instruction in such environments is generally pretty well developed, as are the main reasons for training and instruction... I think.
Being involved for many years in a highly regulated business (nuclear power), that relies heavily upon well-developed, pervasive, and very formalized training processes, has given me some basic knowledge about why training and development is needed. However, now that I'm directly involved in the actual business of training, I've had to do some thinking about it, just to set some context for myself. Here's where my mind is right now.
Bill's Naive List of Reasons to Train
- meeting legal, regulatory, code/standard requirements
- skills development, refresh, enhancement, and broadening
- communicating and reinforcing norms, standards, requirements, and expectations
- demonstrating competence and qualification for internal & external stakeholders
- providing a means to identify personnel capabilities and limitations
- addressing gaps in knowledge, compliance, performance, and behaviour
- improving and enhancing skills, knowledge, behaviours, efficiency, performance
- practicing critical activities and scenarios (simulation, drills, exercises)
- breaking down organizational barriers, building up cross-functional teamwork
- institutionalizing lessons-learned and preventing the loss of hard-won knowledge and experience
- establishing the need for change, initiating it, tracking its progress, and easing its passage
- identifying future training/education needs that could maximize performance potential
I'm sure this list could be expanded pretty easily with additional details, nuances, etc. However, even working it out to this level has already expanded the scope of my thinking greatly. Training no longer seems like a business support activity to me. It's actually starting to look like a core competency... one that could make or break an organization over the long haul, depending upon the level of respect it is given and the level of energy and emphasis with which it is treated.
... which all means that eLearning, important as it is already, can only become more important as the pace of social, cultural, technological, environmental, and institutional change continues to quicken. The future will be interesting!
by Bill Wilson