Today we are delighted to welcome to the JoomlaLMS blog an eLearning expert, author of E-Learning Provocateur blog and a former ELearning magazine editorial board member - Ryan Tracey.

The funny thing is that when we discussed with Ryan an interview topic, Ryan chose “Advanced technologies needed to foster online learning within the organization” because he had an opposite opinion on the topic. Provocative, right?

Let’s check what Ryan had in mind…

Ryan, numerous researches state that technologies open new opportunities for learning and training, that the use of technology enhances learning within the organizations and technology-enhanced learning is more effective than the traditional, instructor-led one. You, on the contrary, believe that there is no need for the technology to be advanced to foster online learning. Could you please explain what you mean by this?

I do indeed believe that technology enhances learning, but I caution against the use of technology for its own sake. It's very tempting when a shiny new toy is released to promote it as the panacea for all our ills, but the truth is that any technology will be useful under some circumstances and useless under many others.

So instead of starting with a technology and trying to find a problem for it to fix, I suggest starting with the problem and consider the spectrum of technologies that might help solve it. This involves thinking more critically about the pedagogy -- are we trying to facilitate collaboration? empower on-demand learning? enable just-in-time learning out in the field? Once we're clear on the business need and the pedagogy to address it, the questions of whether technology can support us and which ones to choose become easier to answer.

What is your attitude towards a common technology usage for training and learning? Does it have a place in the corporate training?

Technology that is commonly used outside the workplace has a strong chance of being accepted inside the workplace because its benefits don't need to be "sold" to the target audience; they're already hooked.

An obvious example is the smartphone: when we're at home or out somewhere, it's natural for us to refer to the public transport app to find out when the next train arrives, or to look up something on Google. So it makes sense to leverage this device with which our people are already familiar, and help them to do their jobs with it.

What are the common challenges of using technology for enhansing online learning within the organization and how to overcome them?

I think the greatest challenges involving change at any organisation are cultural rather than technological. Despite the technology being wonderful, it won't be adopted if the people in the organisation are resistant to using it.

In such a situation, one way to overcome the problem is to start small: rather than taking a "big bang" approach that accentuates the contrast between the old way and the new way, implement smaller changes over time; this approach allows the target audience to become comfortable with the changes as they go along, without feeling overwhelmed.

Regardless, a critical factor for overcoming cultural barriers to change is executive support. Managers set the norm for the people who report to them, so it's important they demonstrate the new norm by leading by example. When managers embrace the change, everyone else will too lest they are left behind.

What are the facts to consider when selecting a technology for training?

If a particular technology has been identified as a potential solution to a business need and it matches the pedagogical approach, there are still other factors to consider. For example, is it easy to deploy? If it's too expensive, incompatible with the company's SOE, or a logistical nightmare, then it won't solve much. Once deployed, is it easy to operate? If you need a PhD to use it, no one will. Looking further ahead, who's going to manage it and maintain it? If that isn't determined up front, it will eventually fall in a heap.

What role does an LMS play in fostering online learning and putting employees in charge of their learning and development?

I think the LMS is an important component of the organisation's formal L&D strategy. For "must know" subject matter, the LMS centralises, distributes, assesses, records, and reports the necessary training. Having said that, the LMS can also play a role in facilitating informal learning. Assuming the system is easily accessible and navigable, then it may make sense to use it to host on-demand content and social media that the employees can access at their convenience as the need arises.

What tactics, ideas and innovative solutions would you recommend for getting the most out of the training programs?

Training programs are the "10" in 70:20:10, and that's typically where they remain in isolation of everything else. To get the most out of them, they should be complemented by other activities and interventions drawn from the "70" and the "20" to provide a more holistic intervention. Ignoring these other dimensions means you won't be offering job aids, on-the-job experience, peer-to-peer collaboration, expert guidance, or manager support. Instead, you'll cross your fingers and hope the trainee will remember everything in the course and seamlessly transfer that knowledge to the job at hand. It would be laughable if it weren't so serious.

About the Author:

Ryan Tracey

Ryan Tracey is the author of the E-learning Provocateur blog, a former ELearning magazine editorial board member and an eLearning Manager in the Australian financial services industry.
He has over 14 years of experience in the eLearning field and focuses on adult learning, informal learning and social media.

To learn more about Ryan, visit him on his web site: or follow him on Twitter @ryantracey

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