Nearly all industries have been, or will be, impacted by emerging technologies, and learning and development (L&D) is no different. As technology continues to transform the field, L&D professionals must learn to manage the complete learning technology life cycle, which includes the following three phases:

1. Purchase

The first phase of the learning technology life cycle includes the following steps learning leaders should take before purchasing a technology, including:

  1. Conducting a needs assessment.
  2. Identifying options.
  3. Soliciting information.
  4. Evaluating options.
  5. Weighing the costs and benefits of those options to make a decision.
  6. Contracting and implementation.

By following these steps, learning leaders will be better positioned to purchase the learning technology that best suits their organization’s needs.

2. Sustain

The second phase of the learning technology life cycle involves sustaining and supporting the technology through regular maintenance, updates and appropriate integrations, and reviewing and executing security measures as needed. Although this process requires an extensive time commitment, it’s worth the investment, as it ensures an organization’s learning technologies continue to function at their highest capacity.

3. Retire

Eventually, most learning technologies will be retired or replaced by a more efficient technology. The last phase of the learning technology life cycle involves transitioning to a new technology and effectively managing the migration of data and systems. This stage includes the following tasks:

  • Archiving records: Learning leaders should create a copy of records contained within the technology they’re retiring. This step is especially critical for compliance, safety and regulatory courses or programs, as the loss of records could pose legal, monetary and/or safety risks.
  • Mapping Impact: Learning leaders should outline the impact a technology’s retirement will have on its current users and administrators by determining who is using the system and how they’re using it.
  • Making a Plan: After mapping impact, learning leaders can determine how to retire a learning technology and/or transition to a new one. Creating a concrete plan helps minimize rework and wasted efforts, creating an efficient retirement process.
  • Executing Your Plan: Deploying a retirement plan and executing the technology replacement completes the learning technology life cycle.

Managing learning technologies throughout the life cycle can be complex. A needs assessment can help you explore your role in managing learning technologies.

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