Creating a Strong Learning Culture: Access to Training Content

If you want to create a good culture of learning, you need to ensure learners have easy access to the resources they need. After all, if learners can’t find or use the content they need, at the time of need, how can they be expected to develop new skills and understanding?

Over the next few posts, we’ll continue to explore each of the six barriers of a healthy learning culture and how to overcome them—this time covering a very common barrier: access to training content and resources.

Having a Stocked LMS ≠ Access to Resources

Yes, your LMS is absolutely critical for many training needs, but the kind of content and experiences we’re talking about here go beyond formal onboarding, compliance training, etc.

People need to have access to learning resources that help them develop within and beyond their current roles. This is important for three reasons:

  1. Access helps people make room. When you provide people with tools and resources that enable them to do their jobs more effectively or efficiently, they have more time to focus on developing professional skills or interests within their roles.
  2. Access helps people make plans. When you support people’s development, you enable them to prepare for the next step in their careers. This improves morale and attract talent, it also helps create a pipeline for internal recruitment regarding higher-level positions.
  3. Access helps people adjust. When people develop skills beyond those required for their current roles, you help prepare them to adapt to the changing needs of the organization. Enabling people to develop themselves and get ahead of those needs puts the organization in a much better position when it needs to pivot and shift focus.

Let’s look at some of the ways these (not mutually exclusive) learning resources can be provided. This time we’ll compare four approaches to some fun scenes from the show “Arrested Development.”

1) Training Content Curation

These days you can search online for information on just about any topic you can imagine. But having so many sources can be overwhelming—especially when you have hundreds to choose from.

This is where training content curation can help. Curation is about deliberately sorting through this information to highlight the items that are most useful to people within your organization (i.e., sources that are relevant, accurate, etc.).

The curation process is generally much faster than creating learning content yourself and offers access to sources and expertise outside your organization. As a result, curating content can provide a much more comprehensive library than you might have otherwise.

Help learners enjoy their scholarly pursuits by curating training content that’s easy to find and access.

Of course, your learners could have simply found the content themselves, but curation adds a layer of filtering and quality control. People save time searching and sorting through lower-quality content while avoiding incorrect or misleading information.

There also may be licensing limitations on using publicly available resources for training within a commercial organization. Many TED Talks, for example, are freely available for personal use via YouTube, but require a paid license for training in a commercial organization. So by curating content, you can avoid running into these kinds of issues.

If you’re not up for manual curation, many learning platforms and systems have automated curation built in based on historic user preferences.

And, if you want to take targeted curation a step further, you can use a learning record store to not only identify content engagement by skill, role, or performance, but also uncover scrap learning.

2) L&D Content Libraries

Commercial content libraries are relatively cost-effective sources that cover a range of relevant subjects for your learners.

These libraries often feature training on topics that are normally difficult to find with an internet search; however, be sure this paid content offers a higher quality level than you’d find with free, public content.

Not all content is created equal, so be careful what you pay for.

To examine the quality of content libraries, take an approach similar to one you may take when shopping for a house or car—where you consider:

  • the features you need,
  • options available to you within your budget,
  • ratings and reviews, and most important, and
  • a test drive or walkthrough.

If you don’t know where to begin, we recommend starting with a simple online search, asking your network, or checking out “top vendor” roundups by independent sources.

For example, Training Industry publishes a list of the top online learning library companies each year, and one of the selection criteria is the breadth and quality of courses and content.

Though we don’t choose favorites, we do like that content libraries such as OpenSesame and LinkedIn Learning support xAPI, which makes reporting across your learning ecosystem a bit more seamless than dealing with CSVs.

3) Learning Experience Platforms

In addition to sourcing a range of content, you need to consider how learners will find and access this information. If these resources are difficult to find or access, then they’re less likely to be used.

One solution to improving content accessibility is by using a learning experience platform (LXP)—which not only offers a single interface across integrated systems for learners, but also usually includes a search functionality. When looking for an LXP, follow the car-buying example above and remember to ask about integration and xAPI capabilities.

A good search functionality means even if people search for variations of a topic, they'll still find what they need.

4) Information Architect and User Experience Design

Well-organized content that’s easy to navigate helps ensure learners can easily find what they’re looking for. And the good news is that there’s a lot you can learn about information architecture and user experience design (perhaps there’s a training resource already in your content library).

A simple first step is making sure you always test the user experience associated with content before you make it available. This includes considering a resource’s accessibility, ease of navigating, and overall design aesthetic.

Including this step in your content curation process before releasing new content can make a huge difference compared to throwing it on the LMS and calling it done.

Don't overlook mistakes that could be lurking in your content. Test it before sharing it with the world!

How can learning analytics help you provide the best training content?

To provide access to good content and enhance self-directed learning, data is your friend, especially if you are able to get that data from the different systems across your organization. Learning analytics can be used to monitor how learners access learning content and resources, and how successful they are at doing so. You can:

  • learn what people are searching for,
  • see if they’re finding the right content, and
  • identify drop-off points where learners stop and leave the platform.

You also can use data to identify which content is most useful by looking at both utilization levels and ratings. From there, you can promote more useful content, making it easier for people to find the most helpful, relevant resources.

Up Next: Are organizational processes hurting your learning culture?

We’re moving onto the third barrier to creating a learning culture and looking at how your organization’s processes may actually be hindering your learning and development efforts. We’ll consider how you can change these processes so they incentivize learning and make development a key part of day-to-day work.

Arrested Development is used here only to illustrate the examples in this blog post. Watershed is not associated with, sponsored by, or affiliated with Imagine Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Television, The Hurwitz Company, or Imagine Television.

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