Learning Plans that Grow

A promising trend we are seeing is more and more training departments wanting to create learning plans that grow. These are learning plans that start off with just a few courses but add more over time based on what the learner needs. This is part of a larger trend in the industry towards personalized and adaptive training.

Why

Learning management systems are moving away from the old model of learning content “repositories” where heaps of content is stored and learners are expected to sift through all of it. This ends up confusing and overwhelming new learners who just want to start their job training.

Learning plans that grow start off basic and manageable, maybe only a few orientation courses. No learner should be overwhelmed on day 1 of the job. But training doesn’t end at orientation. Courses become available as the learner completes their current training, requires more skills, or wants more challenge.

How

Creating learning plans that grow means designing your training program to accommodate growth using metadata and rules. Go all the way back to your curriculum design—what courses are available to each major role in your company? What is absolutely required at the start of each role? What content is commonly added later? What courses are needed for a team member to advance their career?

In your curriculum, include when and how a learner should receive each course in a new column.

Here are some ways a course might be added to a learning plan:

  • Prerequisites: a course becomes available after another course (the prerequisite) is completed. E.g. product training only becomes available after the necessary forms are signed off.
  • Timed release: a course becomes available after a certain amount of time. E.g. an onboarding training program is broken up into 4 weeks with a course released at the start of each week.
  • Self assigned: learners can find a course in a catalog and add it to their plan. E.g. a learner is interested in advancing their career or switching to another department.
  • Manager assigned: a manager can assign a course to a learner. E.g. a manager wants to promote a team member to assistant manager and wants them to do some introductory management courses.
  • Conditions: a course is assigned if the learner performs a specific action in the LMS such as selecting a certain response in a survey.

Once you’ve updated your curriculum design, it’s time to implement these rules in your training program. Although most LMSs support most the conditions above, they might not support all of them. As is usually the case as an LMS admin, you might have to get inventive with the features you have available.

Growth works best when automated so your design scales with your organization, but certain steps might require a human touch. Managers and instructors need to be able to manually assign courses to learners when they need them.

Conclusion

The idea that online training simply means providing a massive repository of learning content for learners to figure out themselves is becoming outdated—learners want to be guided through the training program and be assigned content that matters to them and their career path. This can be achieved with not just tools and technology, but design and planning.

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