Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Planning your approach to developing e-learning

I have been thinking more about the 5-way approach I described earlier and keep coming back to the planning factor. I come across Mark Harrison's article about developing a learning strategy master plan, beginning with Part 1, which talks about Alignment (to organisational goals).

At first, on reading Part 1, I thought it was too 'big picture' for a development model version of planning...but on reflection, Harrison's points bring me to a point I consider much in need of further discussion: if we are to really get e-learning into our mainstream processes and strategies and fundamentally shift our thinking in that direction we've got to get serious about learning generally! I guess I'm saying drop the 'e' altogether and consider learning strategies and e-learning strategies to be one in the same! Cos they are! :o) This is still a hurdle teachers feel they must continually jump and frankly, it's tiring! We still struggle with technical jargon and different practices for e-learning as opposed to "what we normally do" and this won't change until we take our current organisational processes and embed e-learning into them 100%.

People are doing this you say? Well, yes, but if you check out the recent work done by the AFLF Industry Engagement Projects, and David Day's research, the uptake of e-learning as part of an organisation's overall training and PD strategy, for example, is still minimal. I'm not wanting to bag anyone who has pushed for greater involvement and inclusion of e-learning into learning strategies (especially teaching and learning institutions for which learning is their core business!), more I'm simply pointing out that we still have gaps between what occurs on the ground with teachers and what management perceives is needed/wanted/really going on!

Which takes me back to Harrison's discussion about alignment. Harrison addresses 8 points against which you can check how well your strategy fits your organisation's goals (and what to check if it doesn't). These 8 points are:
  1. Confirm your Organisation?s Vision, Goals and Drivers
  2. Work Closely with Senior Teams
  3. Look for Areas Where Alignment Is a High Priority
  4. Always Offer What People Want (and Need)
  5. Make Evaluation Aligned to Organisational Needs
  6. Work Closely with Each Part of the Organisation
  7. Make Sure You Have Quick Decision-making Processes
  8. Match Training Spend to Its Importance to the Organisation?s Goals
So, back to the 5-way approach then...well, I guess it's about narrowing that gap between what teachers are doing and what management are thinking/planning. With the right support at both ends a common understanding can be developed. I think this is becoming more common as management is more willing to listen to teachers. Overall I guess we're really talking about the culture of an organisation. If there's a sense of 'can do' about the place, and at all levels, then tackling strategic development does not need to be such an isolating and sometimes divisive activity.

For teachers developing e-learning approaches this means simply being able to feel confident that their foray into educational technology is acknowledged, supported and part of the organisation's big picture stuff! Oh, and if it's about being effective with what you do, then here are some tips... :o)


No comments: