Learning Technology Implementations – 3 Mistakes to Avoid
When it comes to learning technology implementations, a lot can go wrong. If not careful, you might be investing a lot of time and resources into something that ultimately doesn’t work. Sometimes, it might be that the vendor has oversold you and fails to deliver. But equally often it might be due to lacklustre internal preparation for the project. Here are three common pitfalls to avoid when implementing learning technologies in the workplace.
1. Not choosing the right technology
The first step to get right in a learning technology implementation is the technology selection. Unfortunately, it’s also a step where a lot of organisations get it wrong. Sure, the market is a big one (you can choose from more than 5-700 different products) and it may be hard to navigate through the aggressive sales pitches of the vendors and to really understand the capabilities on offer. It’s also very easy to resort to systems that someone in the company has used before, but that type of thinking doesn’t really set you out for the long term.
So, when it comes to learning technology implementations, the first thing to understand is your own organisation. What’s the business problem you’re trying to solve with the technology? Who’s going to be using the solution? How? Once you’ve carefully defined the problem, it’s a lot easier to see the potential solutions among all the rest.
It’s important to get the technology right, but it’s also important to find the right expertise to support the project. Technology vendors may sometimes lack a holistic understanding of the use of learning technology, as they’re solely focused on pushing their own product out there. In such situations, it might make sense to bring in an outside learning consultant. The consultant can provide the much needed expertise in digital learning, which helps to get to actual learning results.
2. Believing in “build it and they will come”
The “build it and they will come” belief is one of the longer standing myths in learning technology implementations. However, the belief that once a system is out there, users will automatically engage with it is just utter nonsense.
In reality, you first of all have to know your users; how the technology can help them, save their time, make them more efficient and so on. Naturally, if you haven’t known this already, you might have ended up with a wrong technology altogether. Secondly, it’s important have engaging, interactive and interesting learning content (here, here and here are some tips for that). Thirdly, getting your employees or users to adopt a new system will take a good amount of internal marketing and communications.
3. Locking yourself into a vendor relationship
As mentioned, a lot of learning implementations fail – and many for reasons not even listed above. If a project fails and you’re not getting the results you want, you should probably look at cooperating with other providers. Thus, the worst disservice you can do to your own organisation is to lock yourself into a vendor relationship. Lengthy, often fixed contracts are obviously what the vendors prefer, and in exchange you may score a discount on the license fees. However, if you want to switch providers after a year of failed efforts but are committed to five years, you’re out of luck.
Thus, we would encourage companies to work with vendors who appreciate flexibility, and that their product might not always be the best. Cloud-based systems and software-as-a-service (SaaS) models are very commonplace nowadays. In fact, if vendors insist on long, fixed contracts, that should perhaps be a sign of caution. As in if the product is as good as they describe, a flexible SaaS solution would be more profitable for them as well.
Overall, there a lot of ways a learning technology implementation can go wrong. Here are some of the usually overlooked ones. Hope they help you in your learning technology projects.
If you think you could use outside expertise in your learning technology implementation, we are happy to help. Our engagements cover both technology selections and digital learning advisory. Just contact us to set up a meeting.