About Me

My photo
United States
I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Print Still Matters in an e-Learning World...


With the introduction of online learning, the training & development world has seen drastic changes in the delivery of their services. As training professionals, we can worry less about tracking/storing paper training records, as it can all be stored within a learning management system (i.e. Moodle, Cornerstone, Peoplesoft, etc.). In addition, the need for printed materials has reduced thanks to the utilization of custom online courses and webinars. However, I feel paper is still a necessary tool in training, not just for instructor-led training, but also job aids and on-the-job training. Today's article will discuss if e-Learning vendors are still properly prepared to provide paper-based training tools.

Gretchen L. Kriesen (2008) suggests that all organizations should commit to the evaluation and improvement of their operations. One way to do so is  using a Behavior Systems Analysis (BSA), which evaluates three levels of a organization's systems & processes:

  1. Organizational Level - Is change necessary? If so, what are we aiming to change?
  2. Process Level - What needs to change in how we do things today?
  3. Performer Level - Do our people have all the resources they need to meet requirements?
Kriesen uses this approach to evaluate a small private company (less than 30 employees) who provide training services to Fortune 500 companies with majority of their services focusing on e-Learning (22% involved paper). She works with 13 of the company's employees as well as 13 print vendors used by this company. Kriesen uses surveys and interviews to evaluate the company's approach to print materials.

The study showed that while e-Learning was still the primary source of business, many clients were requesting the integration of paper products to accompany their courses. Let's look at the findings using the BSA approach:

1. Organizational Level - The company only had one expert on paper materials, resulting in a lack of knowledge across the organization. To accommodate this, the company created a paper based project plan and and updated their process flows. 

2. Process Level - Since there was only one paper expert, he/she was not able to attend all client meetings. Therefore, understanding and meeting a customer's requirements was starting to be a challenge. In addition, the company had no project plan template that included print elements. This caused confusion for customers on the company's offers and confusion by the printers as to what the consulting company wanted printed. To meet this need, the company updated their project plan templates to accommodate employees who were not experts in print solutions, printers, and sales consultants. 

3. Performer Level - When a print expert was not available, employees were asked to meet these needs even when this was not their area of expertise. The company decide to create several tools to assist these individuals, A detailed document was created to provide these individuals with the knowledge required, including the organization's process for print materials. In addition, a job aid was designed to help the employees ask the correct questions when designing solutions for customers. Finally, a process map was created to ensure experts were included in the process at the appropriate times. 

All of these tools helped the organization, its customers, and its printer meet their expectations and needs. However, this study cannot be applied to all organizations. First off, it does not include a sample that represents the population and it only looked at one customer. Second, the title doesn't accurately reflect the article. It nowhere evaluates how and why print still matters in e-learning.


What does this article tell us? First and foremost, it emphasizes the need for detailed project management. One of my former employers was an expert at this. Whenever we started a new project, we defined our scope using a structured form. This form ensured that we understood the clients needs and helped us to identify the resources necessary for the project. Once we had all of the information completed on our scoping form, we would develop a timeline and evaluate where we needed help from outside experts and how it could impact the project. It makes me wonder how the company did their scoping.

The article continues to emphasize the need to cross-train all of your employees. As my boss regularly says to me,"the last thing we want is single-point failures." If you rely on one or two people to be an expert, you will be in a bad place if those employees leave your company or are occupied with other responsibilities. Cross-training your employees can help you to avoid these situations. Unfortunately, this company decided to cross-train their employees after-the-fact, which had negative results on their business.  Cross-training is especially important in learning and development because it is an ever-evolving industry, especially with technology. When an employees learns something new, have them train the rest of your team to ensure that helpful data is shared with everyone.

There is always areas for improvement in both of these areas. I, myself, am guilty of skipping these steps. For example, my internal customers have no interest in scoping and find it a waste of time. Eventually, I just gave up on doing, but after reading this article, I may push back and make it a requirement. Sometimes we look to do things quickly, which can result in a negative effect.

SOURCEKriesen, Gretchen L. "Print Still Matters in an E-Learning World, and Training Companies Need to Properly Manage It." Journal of Organizational Behavior Management 31.3 (2011): 179-95. Web.

No comments:

Post a Comment