PUTTING IT ALL
Ara Ohanian explains how
closer ties between
and training make for higher
impact learning, faster.
oday, an enterprise’s people have BEYOND BLENDED LEARNING Many organisations still train this way, but
never been more important to its Traditionally, the training department was a this isolated form of training delivery, slow
success, something that service provider to the rest of the to respond to business need, no longer
executives and managers organisation. Largely, it was only concerned provides training that is rapid or focused
increasingly understand. They are looking to with providing courses at the request of HR enough for today’s world.
their Learning and Development (L&D) and of management. Its focus, therefore, In time, as the training department
departments for help, asking them to take a
was on internal efficiency – in particular, changed into the learning and development
lead in ensuring relevant competence and
on making classroom delivery as efficient as (L&D) department, it became clear that
knowledge throughout the enterprise and
possible. L&D was about more than simply delivering
training, and that learning could
In the past, the learning and development occur outside the classroom.
profession has seen fads focused on both
Training The result was ‘blended learning’. At
technologies and on methodologies.
first nothing more than a classroom
However, technologies and methods are
course with the addition of a book
only individual components of a broader Training or some online reading materials,
approach to organisational learning, an requests and blended learning has rapidly
approach which some companies are fulfilment become the standard delivery
already deploying to great effect.
mechanism for learning materials in
In these organisations, frontline operations most organisations. It remains,
are supported by both management focus however, just that: a delivery
and by training delivery. The result: a new Frontline Management mechanism, not an integral part of
approach to organisational learning, with operations and leadership the organisation.
L&D directly serving key operations to
Today, this style of blended learning
deliver impact at the front line of the
is no longer enough, not by itself. It
enterprise, and beyond.
focuses on delivery rather than on
This approach is called ‘integrated learning’. results, and on materials, not
December 2009 Inside Learning Technologies 75
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
performance. But the successful L&D people who have the most effect on 1. Focus on results and speed
department of today is not a separate organisational success. The front line operations in your
body from the rest of the organisation, like organisation have targets to meet and will
Although a systematic integration of
the traditional training department. It work closely with any L&D initiative that
corporate goals into learning is core to
works closely with other departments. In helps them achieve those targets rapidly.
integrated learning, this does not mean
particular it has close links with front line
that an integrated approach requires For example, the rental company Aaron’s
operational departments such as Sales and
massive investment in systems. Some Rents wanted to maintain and improve
Production, where enhanced performance
technology is required, but it is as sales across 1,500 outlets in the US. Part
has a direct effect on organisational
important to invest in understanding the of their approach to this was to implement
effectiveness. It also works closely with
needs of the rest of the organisation, and a new sales staff training programme.
leadership to meet organisational goals.
working with it. Once this route had been identified, each
Going beyond blended learning takes the day of delay before well-trained staff
The key factor behind successful integrated
L&D department into integrated learning. stepped onto the shop floor was a day of
learning is the attitude of the L&D
department. It has to be a potentially lower sales revenue. Aaron’s
department that steps outside its opted to deliver the training through a
own domain. Integrated learning rapidly-deployed, integrated Learning
begins with conversations with the Management System that included LMS,
other departments (sales, LCMS and web 2.0 collaboration. The
Learning and result: the L&D department working with
operations, production, marketing,
development operations and sales to design, deploy and
etc.) that make up the organisation,
and which make it a success. implement the LMS in just three weeks.
That’s a focus on results at work!
INTEGRATING LEARNING IN
YOUR ORGANISATION 2. Integrate with management
Integrated learning involves taking In the past, the training department was
Frontline Management learning from the province of L&D able to work to its own schedule,
operations and leadership out into other departments. The producing courses for the organisation to
result is pervasive learning consume, knowing that the content would
throughout an enterprise. But it is match the largely unchanged needs of the
only possible for L&D to do this business.
effectively by focusing on what With today’s rapid rate of change, this
unites it with these other departments: method is inadequate. Instead, L&D has to
the goals of the organisation, and work closely with organisational
INTEGRATED LEARNING achieving them as rapidly as possible. management and leadership to ensure not
Integrated learning helps organisations only that the right content is developed,
Integrated learning rests on four crucial
remain effective by putting the knowledge but also that it is deployed in ways that
of the organisation to work faster than meet the sometimes conflicting needs of
traditional classroom training, and by 1. Focus on results and speed the organisation – with the conflict usually
ensuring at the same time that the skills between a need for skills on the job, and
and knowledge delivered are entirely 2. Integrate with management
time taken off to learn them.
relevant to organisational goals. 3. Integrate with learners
Understanding organisational goals and
Integrated learning, therefore, both includes 4. Support by technology meeting them quickly is one area in which
the blended learning approach it is crucial to integrate
to delivery and goes with management.
beyond it, incorporating Learning and development Another is working
organisational goals as a intelligently with existing
key driver to its activity. management procedures
In an integrated approach Core L&D activity, and information. For
to learning, each area including content creation, example, the executive
concentrates on its own storage and delivery may have called in
core role and the L&D external specialists to
department supports the build a competency
Learning and Training framework for the
other departments as
support management organisation.
appropriate, see example
on the right. Sales Competency It might be tempting to
While blended learning based L&D try to incorporate the
focuses on the delivery planning entire framework into
mechanism of training, L&D operations, to
Performance including target
integrated learning focuses provide a complete
Production management setting, delegation
on the performance results mapping of courses to
of the organisation. The the competencies
top priority is improving identified as
the effectiveness of those Frontline Management organisationally
in frontline operations, the operations and leadership essential. It would be
76 Inside Learning Technologies December 2009
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
There are two essential ways to integrate L&D with learners. content brought together over time. Such
organisations will want to consider
The first is to encourage their contribution. Adding learner replacing these time-consuming
input not only boosts the content available in a system, it also combinations of tools with an all-in-one
system that includes the LMS and LCMS
increases learning through stronger engagement. functionality that they need to move to
integrated learning. The system must be
able to import existing learner data and
tempting, but not the best use of valuable • understand your audience course content.
time. Organisations that already have an LMS in
• build ‘champion’ groups
This is a process that could take months. place have until recently faced a similar
• go for quick wins choice: to strip out the LMS and replace it
Instead, work with management to
understand where the introduction of • get expert help and funding with a more comprehensive solution, or
competencies into L&D could have the to try to make it work in conjunction
• build credibility and kudos internally with a variety of content management
greatest effect. Probably the core 20% of
competencies, applied to L&D for the • get external recognition tools.
essential 20% of frontline personnel will An alternative solution exists, however:
• maintain the motivation
make a substantial difference to frontline integration with a single tool which
results. combines LMS capability with a Learning
4. Support by technology
Content Management System (LCMS).
3. Integrate with learners None of the above is possible without
technology - but what technology? As Working together with other departments
There are two essential ways to integrate will lead, eventually, to demands for
seen above, the need to focus on speed
L&D with learners. The first is to encourage other forms of integration. Any learning
and results means that whatever
their contribution. Adding learner input system must also be able to work with
technology is deployed, it must:
not only boosts the content available in a your existing legacy HR and ERP software,
system, it also increases learning through • be quick to deploy because sooner or later you may be asked
stronger engagement. to establish a link between the two.
• be fairly priced
Collaborative technologies such as blogs, Nobody wants two systems carrying
• be manageable by the L&D department,
wikis, Microsoft SharePoint, and online personnel data, and a system that is open
not by external consultants
meetings are now part of many people’s to integration with, for example, SAP and
working lives, and they expect to be able • include the functionality you need, not Oracle/PeopleSoft will enable you to save
to use them in e-learning. the bells and whistles you don’t your own time and to leverage the
However, remember the need to focus • include training tailored to the investment your organisation has already
on speed and results. Any time spent functionality that will be used made.
integrating this technology with other
• incorporate collaborative learning tools LEARNING BEYOND THE ENTERPRISE
systems is time not spent delivering
results. Instead, look for learning platform • integrate with third party learning tools Companies such as Black & Decker have
technologies that already incorporate extended their L&D operations beyond
With good technology support, it is
collaborative functionality and are pre- their own organisations and included
possible to make the transition from the
configured to integrate with other tools. partners in the extended enterprise. This is
traditional training department to
This means you don’t have to pay for in keeping with the web 2.0 world, where
integration. More importantly, though, it people expect openness and transparency,
means you can keep focused on results. Given that most organisations already and easily accessible information.
have some learning systems in place, how
A larger, crucial part of integration with Innovative organisations are now going
does this help or hinder them in moving to
learners is your adoption plan. When further, using their LMS to open up their
introducing any learning to an organisation, learning not only to partners, but also to
include these points in your plan to ensure Many L&D departments work with home- clients. This is using L&D not merely to
that your learners are on board: grown systems, combinations of tools and support the frontline, but to extend it.
December 2009 Inside Learning Technologies 79
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Giving clients direct access to quality Giving clients direct access to quality learning not only reduces
learning about products and services
not only reduces support and support and maintenance calls, it enhances customer loyalty
maintenance calls, it enhances customer and sets competitors a barrier to entry.
loyalty and sets competitors a barrier to
This approach of extending learning to CONCLUSION rather than over-engineered systematic
clients as well as its partners leads to a Integrated learning is essential to meeting learning perfection produced in
larger view of integrated learning: the needs of modern organisations in both isolation.
the public and private Such close integration demands the third
sectors. characteristic: integrated technological
Integrated learning support, particularly of learning content.
has three hallmarks. To be truly focused on speed, the L&D
Learning and department cannot spend its time on
development, implementation, administration and
Clients and Learning and tinkering with technical maintenance of
partners development although still
controlled centrally by several different systems.
the L&D department, Only with the right technical support can
is integrated into the an organisation truly benefit from
operations of the integrated learning.
business. This results
Frontline Management in the second
operations and leadership characteristic: a Ara Ohanian is CEO of CERTPOINT Systems.
management-driven This is an extract from the CERTPOINT
focus on speed and on white paper on Integrated Learning, one
results, on practical of a series of papers available at
business results http://bit.ly/CPNTWhitePapers
achieved in unison,
80 Inside Learning Technologies December 2009