Neil Lasher, managing director of Trainer1, one of the UK’s leading learning consultancies, and the current president of the UK chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)’s Global Network, gave a keynote speech last week at ‘Trainings 06’, a major conference for Russia’s human resources professionals, held in Moscow.
Speaking in English – but with Russian translators on hand to translate simultaneously into Russian – Lasher discussed the growing role of informal learning within organisations, especially with regard to the development of electronic performance support systems (EPSSs).
He outlined the developing market in Western economies for using informal content delivery tools and systems, such as Context Sensitive Learning™ (CSL™), the technology-driven support tool providing ‘performance knowledge’ to help people improve their efficiency and effectiveness at work which has been shortlisted for one of this year’s prestigious E-Learning Awards, in the ‘Most Innovative Product’ category.
“CSL™ provides an ‘automatic helpdesk’ and training materials - pushing the right information to users as and when they need that information,” said Lasher. “According to existing purchasers, CSL™ has been shown to have cut calls to company helpdesks by up to 40 per cent.
“Moreover, it supports itself – so it can be used throughout an organisation with very little involvement from the IT department. This can result in cost savings for both training and IT support, as well as reducing worker downtime by only delivering the information that’s required – unlike a training course which may include information that the trainees already know.
“It provides an instant transfer of knowledge to the workplace and improves the flow of information to staff throughout the organization, allowing users to work smarter rather than harder. So it’s easy to see why organisations in both the private and public sectors are turning to these sorts of tool,” Lasher added.
Lasher went on to explain the radical new approach to instructional design for the digital age which is gathering ground in the UK and USA: a technique called ‘The four ‘As’ of learning’.
Lasher explained that the four ‘As’ of learning are:
• Attraction: to draw the user in, engage them and leave them satisfied. It also ensures the user will want to use this learning intervention instead of another.
• Attention: Previous models have focused on how to get the user’s attention. This model shifts the focus to the content.
• Availability: ensures the content is up-to-date and always retrievable. As Albert Einstein once said: “It’s not what you know, but knowing where to find it.”
• Application: drives the motivation to use the new information. The most important stage of the learning intervention design is to entice the user to apply what they have gained in knowledge to a real life situation.
To this, Lasher added a fifth ‘A’: that of ‘Advantage’, stressing the need to:
• Start designing each learning project with a ‘clean sheet of paper’ rather than be influenced by existing processes or prejudices.
• Engage the emotions of the learner within the learning process, in order to cement that learning and ensure its application into the workplace.
• Concentrate on the content of the learning rather than the budget available to provide it – thus placing quality of learning before quantity.
Lasher is about to publish a paper on this ‘fifth A’. For further details, contact Trainer1 on 00 44 (0) 20 7264 4844.
The Russian delegates provided some highly positive feedback. They said that they enjoyed what was said and had a very informative day.
Apart from Lasher, other speakers at the Moscow conference included Neville Pritchard, of INL, who presented the ASTD balanced scorecard and Diederick Stoell, of ProfitWise, who spoke on the return on investment in learning.
About Context Sensitive Learning™
Context Sensitive Learning™ (CSL) enables organisations to provide their staff with information and communications technology (ICT) training in a user-friendly way. CSL™ uses e-learning to give the end users what they need at the moment they need it.
It addresses ‘informal learning’ that, studies show, comprise 80 per cent of the learning within a typical organisation.
The CSL™ learning materials are written by the user’s organisation - in the same way as learning materials are written at present but using different techniques. These learning materials may be written in any transferable format.
This ensures that the information they contain are exactly and entirely applicable to those who will be using them as job aids.
CSL™ provides training materials that can be applied to any program or content running on the client machine including web based applications and bespoke created software, documents and spreadsheets.
CSL™ provides the information people need without them having to leave their current task.
Moreover, CSL™ can create real value and ROI for user organisations – not by reducing users’ travel and subsistence costs but by reducing the time taken to develop learning materials and to getting users to reach ‘competence’. CSL™ integrates learning into workflow without detracting from the work itself – thus keeping the cost of training/learning to a minimum and, at the same time, maximising the output from the learning.
CSL™ constantly monitors which screen(s) the user has open on the desktop and, when required, will search and retrieve the relevant learning module that applies to the particular open screen or document – in a network environment. No files need to be deployed on the client machine, making implementation/roll out to large environments a simple process.
CSL™ is available in number of cost options.
Trainer1 is one of the UK’s leading independent e-learning specialists, creating sophisticated courseware for learning. It works in a number of areas including:
• Creating custom-built e-learning solutions
• Supplying e-learning consultancy to make clients self-sufficient in servicing their e-learning needs – especially in terms of embedded and workflow learning
• Operating as a ‘tools warehouse’ for tools used by Trainer1’s clients
It has lengthy experience in computer delivered learning. In particular, Trainer1 develops, supplies and supports:
• Authoring tools - for the creation of content, meeting SCORM, AICC, LRN, XML, and QTI standards.
• Learning and Knowledge Management tools - for the management and distribution of content, including accreditation and reporting of data within existing databases.
• Delivery systems for workflow learning - CSL™.
• Tools and libraries to create multimedia content, including image editors, easy to use Flash production tools, libraries of sound, graphics and animation.
• Specialised training events to assist trainers become self sufficient in e-learning design and production.
• Development services in the creation and maintenance of learning content.
Trainer1’s client list includes international major corporations such as ABN AMRO, Kraft Foods, Deutsche Post (DHL) and Mitsubishi Corporation, along with clients including DCLG (formerly the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) in the UK, the Department for International Development, and the UK’s Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability, along with many municipal authorities.
Trainer1 is privately owned and remains a small, friendly company providing high quality product combined with personal service to Blue Chip Companies, as well as small and medium sized enterprises. Trainer1 is a member of many e-learning organisations, and Neil Lasher, Trainer1’s managing director is a committee member of the ELN and President (in 2006) of the Global Network of ASTD UK.