What is Enterprise Learning?
Enterprise learning includes creating a set of learning principles and practices that allow employees, partners, clients, and customers to access knowledge and training at the time of need. In a world where content changes fast and the need to learn it even faster, access to information, training, and experts is critical to stay competitive and meet critical business goals.
There are many different ways that organizations approach learning and development. At EK, we’ve built upon the foundations of our concise definition of Knowledge Management to explain Enterprise Learning:
Enterprise Learning involves the people, process, culture, instructional content, and enabling technologies to deliver a holistic training strategy and maximize learning outcomes across the organization.
Why is Enterprise Learning Important?
When people can independently find learning content, they confidently engage in organic conversations and collaboration that drive knowledge proliferation. So how do you develop an environment that cultivates organic learning and skill-building across an enterprise?
Leading training organizations empower individuals and decentralize educational offerings. This strategy promotes a culture where learners can channel curiosity and connect to valuable resources, rather than be commanded by learning processes. Most organizations with whom we have worked have many Enterprise Learning components in place, but don’t have the staff or struggle to create a successful roadmap to transform from their training organization into a sophisticated Enterprise Learning Program.
Enterprise Learning Programs provide a clear roadmap that aligns training improvements with the organization’s priorities. Successful learning programs harness the power of Knowledge Management to look beyond training as an event and offer a human-centric learning experience. An Enterprise Learning Program extends the learning beyond the organization level and provides a clear channel for employees to access information and knowledge, consequently creating better alignment at the enterprise level. Successful programs also transcend company walls allowing partners, clients, and customers to stay informed and trained around products and services.
From an ROI perspective, the value of Enterprise Learning is clear. Individuals who feel supported by their organization, who see a path to develop and grow, and who feel they are being set up to succeed will stay with the organization and perform at consistently higher levels. Enterprise Learning will yield higher employee and customer satisfaction, in turn resulting in lower employee turnover and customer departures. Put simply, Enterprise Learning will save your organization money.
Key Tenants of Enterprise Learning
1. Transcend Training
Too often, learning and development professionals struggle to go beyond the proverbial training box. Traditional training is essential for teaching the basics of new knowledge and skills. Nevertheless, to be effective, it must be supplemented with microlearning that can be easily consumable by the learner rather than buried in lengthy manuals and overly complex multi-day course materials. Learning concepts can be mined from the larger training programs and used as performance support tools such as checklists and short instructional videos that are available at the point of need. Once the material has been mined, it can also be used to repeat the learning process over a period of time, creating a spaced learning offering to reinforce challenging concepts.
2. Collaborative and Social Learning
The best learning assets in most organizations are people. A robust Enterprise Learning Strategy will craft processes and develop technology platforms that support collaboration, problem-solving, and the co-creation of knowledge. This collaboration is often through communities of practice and discussion platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Incentivizing active participation in learning communities is also essential to building a collaborative culture. In addition to collaborative discussion platforms that give all community members a voice, the development of Expert Finders can be incredibly impactful for larger and more siloed organizations – especially when there are hidden people in your organization who have niche expertise.
Enterprise Learning strategy must generate data for analysis and iterative improvements to organizational learning outcomes. The key is to build data collection directly into technical systems. Traditionally data collection was in the exclusive domain of classroom rubrics and course summative assessments. This can be extended to include a robust system for tracking formative assessment data and social learning activity using the xAPI specification. When you expand what kinds of data you’re collecting, organizations must also ensure learning and development professionals are trained to craft valid and meaningful formative and summative assessments and analyze the data to improve learning assets incrementally.
4. Reusable Content
The need to create reusable content is not an old concept. L&D organizations struggling to define a process should start by looking beyond the traditional content development models where student manuals are the norm. Learning objects are vital to creating a reusable, self-serve content model. With various instructional delivery modalities available for today’s learning and development professional, training programs should leverage and Headless CMS approach to share instructional content in multiple learning contexts. Let’s say you’ve produced a two-minute video that explains how to publish a news article on your company’s intranet. That video could add value as a stand-alone content object in a knowledge base or a learning module within a more extensive communications course. Architecting content in such a way that it’s intuitively reusable is essential if we’re going to stop recreating the wheel and trying to keep multiple versions of similar learning assets up to date.
5. “Findability” of Learning Assets
Elevate findability by harnessing the power of KM through taxonomy, ontology, and a well-architected search system. A well-architected metadata strategy is essential when you expand your learning assets to include courses, webinars, job aids, performance support tools, communities of practice, and subject matter experts. Because of the diversity of learning aids, these assets likely exist across multiple systems, and that’s OK. As long as learning assets are contextualized and related with consistent metadata, they can still be findable. Moreover, if related using more advanced techniques like ontologies, a complete network of learning resources can be created in a way that can naturally be assembled and pushed in customized ways to each unique user.
Enterprise Learning can be transformative to an organization, offering significant business value, especially when considering the modern learner can quickly consume knowledge and information and immediately apply what they have learned. An Enterprise Learning Plan with a learner-centric approach results in better performance, more focused engagement, and a better user and customer experience.
Are you ready to channel curiosity rather than command and control? Empower individuals by giving them the autonomy to take the reins on their continuing education journey, and your Enterprise Learning Program will thrive. As a result, you’ll see increased engagement, enhanced workforce skills, and a modern learning culture instilled across your organization. Our instructional systems designers are here to help bring your Enterprise Learning program into the modern age; contact us to learn more.