To Ponder & Action: Scaled Learning That Sticks

Very often change leaders are looking to increase or shift capability throughout their organisations. After all, if things are to change – then people need to be doing different things. When you’re looking at medium to large organisations – this means scaling education.

Now before I go on, do you happen to have a pitchfork nearby?


Great! In that case, let me say what we’re all thinking

(Most) e-learning is rubbish.

You know the ones I’m talking about. The dead boring click-fests.

click, click, do a quiz – “congratulations you now understand enterprise risk management”

More like ‘congratulations the organisation is now legally compliant’.

But, you’ve rolled out training! You did it!… Right?

Other than an acceleration of repetitive strain injuries, what else actually changed here?… Nothing.

Let’s compare this to a genuine innovation in the field of education – the humble text book. In the early 19th century, soon after the printing press – the text book revolutionised education and schooling. No longer were students reliant on a teacher’s (often limited) knowledge. Large groups of students could now access and deep dive into accurate information far more reliably – and classroom effectiveness improved.

However, the true improvement didn’t occur until the mid 1800s. That’s when textbook authors started to shift focus to ‘student-centricity’ – rather than just being an ‘information-dump’ – textbooks began including suggestions for activities, group discussions and case studies.

There was an evolution in the learning. First independent, then collaborative and finally application. Those three principles maximised the ‘stickiness’ of the learning.

e-Learning is on a similar path to text books. It’s the next step in scalability. But it’s not a plug and play solution (despite claims to the contrary). It is providing consistency of information (often through horribly designed, mind-numbing faux-interactivity overlaid on corny stock photos) – but it’s missing the other two elements. The collaboration and application.

So this week’s takeaway is this.

When you’re looking at scaling education across your organisation as part of your change. Consider three things.

  1. How can I provide consistent information (without treating my staff as imbeciles)? ‘Pull not push’ thinking is often useful here.
  2. How can I create the opportunity for immediate application?, and
  3. How can I stimulate collaboration on the content?

As for me, I prefer to think hybrid. e-Learning forming just one part of a holistic approach. I assume my audience are intelligent, find a way to input interesting ideas and guidance, create space for discussion and create challenges for immediate application. Then the learning just falls out the back of it.

Bring people together. Let them learn from each other. There’s something so human and so necessary about it.

Oh and one final note on this. It’s a situation I’ve seen in a lot of large-scale change roll-outs. Why are you training people on new systems if they aren’t going to be using it within the next fortnight (or ever!)? It won’t stick and they won’t care. So I’d humbly suggest not continuing to waste your time doing that.