Did you create those turnkey PowerPoint training decks or mandate that employees receive training at specific times, regardless of their commitments? Of course not. And you definitely don’t believe a successful learning program should equal a one-and-done training session or a desktop-only platform. Unfortunate practices like these were put in place long before you joined the team.

If any of the above rings true, it’s time for an upgrade. When exploring modern options for an L&D program that’s continuous, collaborative, and connected, here are five key decisions to consider:

#1. Create new materials in-house or outsource? Bring together members of your IT and L&D divisions to define your organization’s needs and capabilities. Some discussion points should include:

Which business goals will the new learning materials fulfill?

Which skill gaps should be addressed?

What sorts of learning paths and methods should we offer?

Are we engaging only senior leaders or all levels of staff with this program?

How many employees will be using it?

To whom could we pilot the program within the first six months?

By what date do we need to launch it?

Do we have the capabilities to build it internally?

What’s our budget?

How will we assess if real learning took place?

What’s our expected ROI?

Based on the answers and your organization’s internal competencies, it should be clear whether your next move is to dedicate an in-house team to the project or approach vendors for quotes.

#2. If outsourcing, do we purchase or license? Many vendors offer both purchasing and licensing options. However, some only offer only one. Purchasing requires a larger, upfront investment than licensing, and while many external partners will provide free, incremental upgrades to fix bugs, major upgrades may require purchase. Ask each vendor about customization possibilities and whether support, training, maintenance, and all upgrades are included in the purchase price.

For organizations with less than 100,000 users and those who anticipate needing frequent product upgrades, licensing is the practical choice. This option usually involves an annual fee that’s based on the number of users and upgrades are included in a licensing agreement. Since you won’t own the product, customization tends to be limited or unavailable. As with the purchasing option, ask for specifics about product training and support from each potential vendor. If the program will be hosted outside your firewall, request security recommendations from your IT team.

#3. A preach-and-teach or humanized-learning approach? The former is the method most of us have encountered: an instructor or web facilitator preaches at us and hopefully teaches us something. Humanized learning aims to expand employees’ mindsets beyond one-and-done courses to see themselves as part of a larger learning community. Through tactics like individual support and feedback loops, humanized learning is more likely to motivate employees and achieve program objectives.

#4. Do we need responsive design? Today’s employee works on multiple devices at home, a client’s site, the office, a coffee shop, or from their kid’s ballet class. Your learning program should be equally flexible. It needs to function as seamlessly on a tablet and smartphone as it does on a laptop or desktop. The rise of the on-the-go workforce isn’t a passing trend, so make certain that responsive design is within the capabilities of your IT team or external vendor.

#5. What about adaptive learning? This methodology allows individuals to learn at their own pace and is gaining wide acceptance in academic institutions. In the workplace, employees can be observed individually and in real time to determine which learning approach best suits their needs. Adaptive learning can be effective at improving efficiency, as well as employee engagement and retention since it allows employees to build overall expertise and confidence.

Whether you decide to build a custom program in-house, purchase learning materials from a vendor, or go with a licensing agreement, it’s vital to create a communication strategy to inform and train your employees. Announcing and promoting a new L&D program in advance of its launch will help foster acceptance and engagement among end users, especially when they hear you’re enabling on-the-go access and nixing the ancient PowerPoints.

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