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Is Now the Time to Revisit Your Learning Strategy?


Adding A New Delivery Method Will Impact Your Strategy

I recently finished conducting a review of the technology sections of a client’s comprehensive learning strategy. Looking back on this effort, I was surprised to see how many parts of the strategy needed to be revised when a new delivery method was added, in this specific case, custom e-learning. The same would apply with any new delivery method that hadn’t been included before, such as virtual instructor-led training,  augmented reality (AR), or virtual reality (VR).

So, how does adding a delivery method impact a learning strategy? Let’s take a look section by section.

Vision The vision statement is the big picture view of how your organization will approach learning in the next three to five years, so it isn’t very likely to change because you added a new delivery method. One possible exception is when a dramatically new delivery method becomes available, such as AR or VR, or when there’s been a major change, such as everyone working remotely. But, by and large, new technology should help fulfill the strategic vision, rather than drive the vision itself.
Audience and Macro Learning Needs When you consider whether or not to add a new delivery method, the learning objectives are the number one most important driver of which delivery methods are used. So, the strategic definition of your audiences and their macro learning needs won’t change because of new delivery methods.
Governance If you have an existing training council, you may need to work with it to obtain approvals and/or budget to roll out a new delivery method. By banding together decision makers and taking input from people who have a stake in learning, you can help eliminate silos and can facilitate the sharing of best practices about delivery methods.
Delivery Methods What should you consider regarding the existing delivery methods when adding a new delivery method? What affordances or advantages does the new delivery method offer that the existing delivery methods do not? And, what are its drawbacks? How could the new delivery method be blended before, after, or between existing delivery methods in order to maximize its benefits? Does the new method offer a lot of opportunity for practice and real‑time feedback (making it suitable for teaching skills)? Or does it offer very little practice and feedback (making it more suitable for communicating awareness)?
Procurement How will you obtain learning solutions created in the new delivery method? Will you build them? Will you buy them off the shelf? Will you outsource the development?
Evaluation Will you be able to evaluate effectiveness of the training solutions for your new delivery method in the same fashion you used for other training types? Many of the same principles apply, but you may have to make some adjustments. For example, your new VR training may not be able to communicate knowledge-gain results (Level 2, that is) to your learning management system unless you make some technology adjustments.
Technology and Infrastructure This section is all about how you develop, deliver, and track your solutions (including hardware, software, and physical infrastructure). There’s a lot to think about here. If you’re adding a new delivery method, you need to consider if you have the right infrastructure to do so. You might have issues with the delivery method if you don’t have the right operating systems, browsers, or bandwidth, or even enough power outlets in a classroom.
The skill requirements for the design, development, and delivery of content for a new delivery method has the potential to impact many roles. You may need instructional designers or programmers who are familiar with the new delivery method. Or you may need IT support to administer computers capable of powering VR headsets.
Implementation Plan The steps required to roll out the new delivery method should be added to the implementation plan.

While there’s a lot to consider when adding a delivery method to a learning strategy, the job of a learning leader is much easier when revising an existing strategy rather than working with no strategy at all. Working without a strategy is somewhat akin to a tightrope walker with no net or a climb of Mt. Everest with no guide. Thrilling? Yes. Disastrous? Possibly. Maybe it’s time to make or revisit your plan.

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