Quality Makes the (E-Learning) World Go Round

If content is the new king (sorry, cash), then quality is the throne it sits on. Good content creates momentum. Poor content creates static…and Buzzfeed lists. Some of us know this already in our guts, but now Science says it’s so!

In their “2015 Learning & Development Staff Report”, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) identified the top six L&D trends of this past year. Two of them revolved around the topic of quality, specifically citing that L&D leaders view “improving the quality of learning as the top priority for their organization.”

Obviously, the CEO or Director of Sales might have a different view, but it speaks volumes that L&D leadership – of all their priorities – see quality as job one, and by a wide margin: 62% cited it as most important.

As luck would have it, around 80% of those L&D heads rate their own staff as “effective” at both creating and delivering quality learning content. That’s executive prerogative for you; getting to set your own goals and then celebrate meeting them in one breath!

But the numbers do form an interesting picture. Like Matt Damon said about Robin Williams’ man-in-a-rowboat painting; “The colors are fascinating.”

Priorities Please: Slide 9 shows quality and building an effective learning culture (two sides of the same coin) as the top two priorities for L&D leaders, while rewarding learning behaviors and the completion of learning are the bottom two. This flies in the face of the incent-your-way-to-victory trend so often seen in many corporate learning – and especially wellness – initiatives. Likewise, quality gained three times the support as “increasing the amount of employee learning.” Truly, in the age-old quality vs. quantity argument, quality bites the dust.

Time Check: Slide 10 shows the time spent on L&D tasks. Notice, there’s a disconnect in where L&D staff spend their time. Quality is the highest priority, yet designing learning interventions is third on the time spent list. Learning evaluating interventions (meaning quality testing) and technology-related activities (mastering new tools like Storyline, perhaps?) were second to and dead last respectively.

You might interpret those two slides to mean that L&D leadership want everything, they want it NOW, and they want it done well. At the same time, few put much thought into how that happens, or ensuring their staff have the tools and training they need to deliver on all fronts.

It’s certainly something I’ve encountered in my time as a trainer: I’m frequently amazed at how leadership can be so adept at handing out projects, deadlines and expectations, yet be so remarkably oblivious when it comes to allotting time and budget for…developing the developers, so to speak.

Quantity is easy. Quality takes heart. That proverbial room of infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters might churn out the complete works of Shakespeare if given enough time, but they’ll go through an awful lot of paper getting there. I hope that’s not the basis for reward and advancement where you ply your training trade. I hope your work allows room for excellence. I hope it affords you the time and resources to create content that matters, that engages your teams and helps them achieve excellence in what they do. If not, maybe a little word from our friends at the CEB will change some minds.

As a trainer or e-learning author, what are your priorities - yours or those assigned to you? What do you spend the most time on? Does this study reflect the leadership behind your L&D efforts?

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