In today’s environment, technology is king. We know this because first of all because technology is cost effective and efficient, but also because, let’s face it, technology is popular. Smart phones, MP3 players, and social media almost make it a necessity to include a technology plan in the roll-out of the corporate university. Obviously this use of technology will help the university to stay fresh and cutting edge, but what’s better is that effective use of technology will save money and help you show more ROI.
The first step is to examine the organization’s existing technology infrastructure. To put it plainly, some organizations may not have the technology to offer the most advanced technology. You may know what your organization is capable of, but even if this is the case you should get your IT department involved in the planning stages. Use some of the examples we are about to discuss in order to begin a dialogue – and find out what you can and cannot do. Keep in mind that the “cannots” may turn into “cans” in the future – and the speed at which technology moves usually means that the future is closer than we think.
While you’re looking at the organization’s current technology, also take the time to take a realistic look at the population. The question you want to answer is not whether the population is ready for technological advances in learning, but rather what kind of technological advances are they ready for. Depending on the industry and age of the organization, you may find that your audience is already highly technically advanced and may expect that L&D will provide them with stimulating technological interventions. On the other hand, the population may be resistant to blogging or watching a training course via a synchronous web conference. Either way, your job is to determine just how far you can go.
In any corporate university in today’s environment, online training is a must. Whether it’s off-the-shelf or internally developed, online programs cut training time and costs, and provide a great way to track and report grades and completions. In addition, with the right LMS you can administer online programs very well. For example, if your organization is ready for the latest and greatest, your LMS can be a Social Learning Management System, or SLMS, that provides for online interaction and social networking. Or, if you plan to work on rapid development, you may need a content management system (LCMS). Regardless of your choice, make sure it’s the right choice for the technology you want to deploy. But keep in mind that technology goes much further than online training.
Consider including technology in classroom courses, as well. For example, blogs, discussion threads, and social networks can be used as both before and after class exercises. Instructors may be able to gain insight in the participants’ knowledge levels both before and after the intervention, as well as learn how well the training affects behavioral change out on the job. Also, as you are planning your corporate university rollout, have the design team begin looking for opportunities to create online applications for courses, such as quick reference guides, games, short knowledge based modules, and even testing. Another great way to incorporate technology is through podcasts that can be downloaded and viewed after or before class. Some rapid development programs, like Articulate, can export directly to podcast format.
Start looking for other ways to include technology in learning, as well. Some of the methods we have already discussed, such as blogs or social networking, are great ways to get learners involved and keep them involved. The question is determining how to begin using these applications. As you look for ways to integrate technology into the corporate university, you will also be able to create a culture that is open to technology. From there, you can use applications for marketing and to keep your audience informed about the corporate university and its progress.
Before you roll out your corporate university, conduct an assessment that helps you determine how you can use technology, both in online and classroom formats, as well as in marketing and information. Once you’ve rolled the university out, continue looking for ways to update technology and keep the programs fresh.
Our final best practice is avoiding the “ivory tower”.
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