Digital learning is about transforming the Learning Culture and any expert would tell you that any transformation process is never a solo activity but a waltz.
One might argue that it's more of a community group dance where the final outcome is dependent on every person in the group playing their part to perfection. Even so, the overall performance is dependent on your ability to understand your interfaces, interdependence, strengths and weaknesses, the scope and most importantly read those subtle signs you get to change the momentum. Just an added complexity - you will be required to constantly change your partners, like in a community social dancing event. Also, there are many more attractive, talented, and eager alternatives, who would continue to pull your partner away from your waltz! Don't despair yet, as in waltz, this transformation can be easily accomplished, one step at a time.
Here’s a possible 9 step digital learning transformation process:
- Scope the transformation process: To start define your digital learning goals/vision, specifically in terms of it's scope, inclusions and exclusions. Digital learning requires an established communication path and orchestration across teams. It depends on collaboration and bringing data, process and people together. It is very important to define the learning paths and processes clearly outlining the transitions needed at each component of learning design, deployment, delivery and demonstration - the 4D's of digital learning
- Acknowledge and accept the current status: Take a realistic stock of your current e-learning. Assess what you have done well and determine areas that need improvement. Acknowledge the existing culture and people, identify who needs to adapt, and communicate why. This is a critical part of transition which when done objectively can ensure that the past (data and content repository), present (the people and the processes) and the future (desired outcomes) are well aligned.
- Reassess and validate your present: How far have you progressed in the digital learning process? Do you have a process in place? Are the processes defined and streamlined to suit the current to deliver the current outcomes? Are they how they should be or just been running because no one assessed/evaluated them? Does it allow for automation, data capture, flexibility, and growth?
- Explore, Experiment and Discover: Identify your innovators and early adopters in the diffusion curve. Encourage questions like "why are we doing this this way?" if important create isolated learning labs. Offer a "safe" place to explore and experiment with learning approaches, tools and techniques, exchange experiences and ideas and most importantly discover the realm of digital learning.
- Run the entire value creation and consumption chain: Digital learning rests entirely on its ability to offer value to the end learner on their terms within their defined value metrics. It is important that a clear connection to the learners' pains and delights are mapped to actual action taken. Go deeper to understand the underlying dependencies, idiosyncrasies, insecurities, and competency gaps. An unequivocal conviction in the digital transformation vision across the ranks and files is a critical ingredient for success.
- Walk the baby steps first: Remember the old Chinese proverb - "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". Digital transformation is a marathon, don't try to sprint across the finish line. Take small steps keeping your focus on achieving small outcomes. Successes, most insignificant ones, add to the conviction and paves the way for major transformation minimizing resistance. Just a few more of those and everyone is convinced of the path to take.
- Put yourself in the firing range: Be ready to bite the bullet and take every fall. The leadership needs to be directly involved and communicate clearly to the team that they hold the responsibility of failure. It is critical that the team trusts and rallies with the leader to push the digital learning transformation process. At the same time, beware not to become the bottleneck and be ready to step aside when needed. The sooner the team achieves the intuitive mode of execution themselves, swifter the transition.
- Build the entire technology ecosystem: Digital learning thrives on an ecosystem that provides the smooth conduit for the idea to take a form and get delivered efficiently and effectively to the learners. While this process is tool/technology agnostic, you can't ignore them either. The strength of a digital learning environment is the strength of the weakest technical link there. It could be hardware, software, connectivity, user devices, tech-support team or a third-party media service provider.
- Glorify successes and learn from the failures: Recognize the smallest success and let the biggest failures pass. In either of the cases be sure that you have learnt the underlying triggers of success or failure. Be positive and be optimistic, the success of the transition would draw and at times challenge most severely your belief and faith in the digital learning value. Be bold, objective and progress oriented while you celebrate every successes and failures.
Just as a well-choreographed and well-rehearsed waltz would always standout in its performance, a well planned and executed digital transformation process would deliver you the value goals with irrefutable evidence. When they look back at the journey, everyone would realize how beautiful your digital learning dream truly was.