One of the frustrations I hear regularly from team members on the front lines of eLearning development is their leadership doesn’t really understand how the soup is made. This often results in arbitrary goals (we need 15 courses this quarter!) and misalignment of resources (because those laying down the goals don’t understand the talent, time and tech that will be required to spin up 15 courses quickly).
If you’re in this position, be encouraged! Digital learning is an imperative in continuing education. This work is necessary and valuable. And so are you! To tease out these misunderstanding tangles, try these five strategies to advocate for your eLearning team.
Reflect on the Disconnect
Spend some time writing and reflecting upon what’s working and what’s challenging. Establish a baseline picture of the status quo. Then move beyond the problems you’re feeling strongly about to the context in which your team operates. Consider where the disconnect may be occurring. Is it how you communicate your needs? Is it how performance is measured? Is it a lack of awareness about the iterative nature of eLearning development? Or the different demands eLearning puts on SMEs? Is the eLearning team competing with another project team for resources? Identify the gaps that need to be bridged so that you can strategize how to address them within the context of the bigger picture.
Collect Your Data
Data is your friend. Gather data on how programs are performing, which outperform others, and industry cycles that impact program performance. Gather data on how long it takes to complete the different steps of an eLearning course development project (or webinar or virtual workshop, etc.) numerating sub steps within big project phases. Pull data on the different ways your organization is investing in your eLearning programs and benchmark that against industry standards. Data is a powerful partner telling your story. If there are disconnects, data will help reveal our successes and challenges so we can strategically address them.
Also this: Listen! Listen to how your leadership talk about your eLearning programs, tuning your ear for points of clarification you can assist with. Listen for the larger context – the challenges leadership is facing when making budget and resource decisions so you can tell your story advocating for your team within that context.
Tell Your Story
And then tell you story! The story of your program should include the unique value eLearning offers within the organization’s learning portfolio (supported by your data 😊). Your story should reveal your unique process – calling out the contrast with in-person event based learning project cycles and highlighting the iterative nature of eLearning development and ongoing maintenance. Tell the story of your unique challenges, such as coaching subject matter experts in crafting their content differently for the digital learning environment. And don’t forget to feature the unique product you offer that sets you apart from industry competition.
Draft a Strategy
If your eLearning initiative has a strategy that needs updating or polish, take a running start at that and present it to your leadership. Take into account the gaps between vision and execution, program data, and your programs unique story. If your organization does not have a strategy for eLearning, this is a perfect opportunity to initiate that conversation with your strategy recommendations. Call out the purpose and vital role eLearning serves within your learning portfolio and how your organization can better maximize digital learning. Bring forward estimates for the investments required to meet organizational expectations.
It’s tempting to get stuck in the ruts of venting about what’s challenging. When we focus primarily upon obstacles, the challenges will seem greater than our opportunities. Instead, flip those challenges into advantages. Don’t get mired in what’s not working; champion solutions. When advocating for your eLearning team, leverage your vantage point to initiate a new conversation.
Lead from where you are – and get what you need to succeed.