Five Key Elements for Effective Development Initiatives
Too often there is a major disconnect between learning theory and development initiative designs. Training and development initiatives often go unproven and survive on the basis of participant reactions. This lack of evaluation results in unproven ROI and there is no factual basis for demonstrating incremental improvements in learning results and subsequent organizational improvements.
However, there is some level of scientific research supporting the efficacy of certain learning design components. The strength of these components can further be enhanced by harnessing the power of social media. In this blog I would like to cover five key elements for effective learning designs and point out how social media can enhance positive results.
Feedback – A Key Component of Learning
Feedback is a key component of learning. It is very difficult to learn new skills or behaviors without some type of feedback on how well you are doing. Feedback is most powerful when it is delivered in close temporal proximity to demonstrated performance. Real time feedback is best. An effective way to maximize feedback on observed behaviors and progress on developmental goals is to use a social media approach to broaden collaboration. Given the high degree of interest in social media and the potential power of harnessing a social network for personal development support, there is a great opportunity for a developmental offering that would create a social media collaborative learning environment. In such an environment, individuals in a social network could share real time feedback/comments/ratings on published development goals and target behaviors.
Skill Practice – Opportunities to Practice New Skills and Knowledge
In order for behavior change to occur, there needs to be ample opportunities for practice in applying new knowledge and skills. Skill practices should utilize materials relevant to the trainee’s work environment. For this reason, action learning designs are effective ways to maximize relevance and provide meaningful opportunity for skill practice. In action learning, individuals work collectively on a real organizational issue that requires the application of recent learning. Again, social media capabilities offer a collaborative environment that is ideal for action learning. Individuals can share files, exchange various kinds of messages, and post/participate in discussion threads without having to be physically together.
Behavioral Modeling – Demonstrating the Behavior We Learn
Behavioral modeling has proven to be a highly effective learning design. It consists of four basic activities: modeling, role-playing, social reinforcement, and transfer of learning. Modeling demonstrates the behaviors to be learned. Key steps and video models are used to illustrate the key behaviors to be demonstrated. Role playing provides the learner with practice in performing the modeled behaviors. Social reinforcement provides feedback and recognition for improvement in demonstrating the behavior. Finally, transfer of learning is necessary for the learned behaviors to generalize to the actual work environment. Behavior modeling is so effective, in part, because it incorporates the key elements of skill practice and feedback.
Follow-up Support – Continual Simulations and Evaluations
Another key element that behavioral modeling incorporates is the idea of follow-up support to ensure transfer of learning to the work environment. This can often be in the form of follow up simulations to test that behavior change has endured beyond a training event. In recent years, technologies have emerged that send emails periodically to training participants with realistic simulations that allow them to demonstrate their skill or knowledge. These ongoing evaluations are scored to provide administrative evidence that learning has endured. Of course social media offers the best way to reinforce learning and provide follow up support. Ongoing snap shot ratings or evaluations of target behaviors being demonstrated in real work situations would be an example of how to leverage a social network application to reinforce and support learning objectives.
Multi-Media Formats – Individuals Learn Differently
Individuals learn in different ways. Some individuals learn better from visual stimuli. Others learn better from verbal or written stimuli. For that reason, effective learning design should utilize a multi-media format. Key lessons can be communicated through a combination of media to ensure maximum retention by all learners.
OMNIview – Providing Tools for Individuals and Organizations
Hopefully, organizations will increasingly demand utilization of proven learning design as well as evidence of ROI from developmental investments. Toward that end, technology leveraging social media will facilitate both effective learning design and subsequent evidence of results. OMNIview will provide these tools.