When was the last time you gave your learning system a spring cleaning?
If you’re not regularly maintaining and revisiting your learning system, you could be missing out on opportunities to improve them.
Sometimes the systems we build and the content we rely on for workplace training becomes out of date. Your learning system won’t tell you this, though. Your employees might, but the best way to know if your system is out of date is to revisit it regularly.
In this episode of The Learning Xchange, Matthew Brown, VP of Learning and Brand Success at Schoox, shares his seven tips for learning system maintenance. He takes you through the reasons why you should regularly revisit your system, tools, and content and the best ways to do this.
Listen to the podcast below or keep reading to learn more.
Why it’s vital to maintain and revisit your learning system
When your home needs maintenance, you’ll usually be able to tell. Something will break, or you’ll see a layer of dust. When your computer needs an update, you will typically get an alert and an automatic update.
However, unlike in those instances, learning systems don’t give you a warning or a signal that they need maintenance. It’s up to you to stay on top of it.
You may already regularly update your content, but what about the learning technology itself? If you use an external learning provider or tool, regular maintenance is something we tend to overlook.
Many of us are guilty of ignoring minor annoyances, but then those issues build up into something much bigger. You might find that a small issue keeps cropping up, but it doesn’t cause too much trouble, so you ignore it. Then it grows and starts to affect other things until it’s harder to ignore and fix.
This leads a lot of organizations to do the rip and replace approach, which means completely turning the system on its head and finding a new one. This can be highly disruptive because you have to start over. The good news is you don’t have to do this.
If you regularly maintain your learning systems, content, and technology, you can extend the life of it and avoid that drastic rip and replace solution.
To start maintaining your learning systems, follow these seven simple steps.
1. Create a maintenance cycle
One of the first things to do is build a maintenance cycle. Start by looking at the different components of your training system. Look at things like permissions, assignment rules, pre-built templates, reports, and any other features and functionality.
Make a list of all these things and set aside a maintenance check on your calendar each quarter. Make sure each quarter, you analyze whether the features and functionality you need are still valid, useful, and are in working order.
2. Update your user documentation
Once you get into the swing of doing these quarterly maintenance cycles, make sure that you make notes and update your documentation. This helps you keep track of what needs checking and updating each time. This is especially important if the tools or software you use go through an update.
In this documentation, make a list of all the features you’re using or not using. Write down all the assignment rules and automation processes in place, and so on. Make your notes detailed so that it’s easy to understand the next time you come to do your maintenance cycle. Turn it into a checklist.
For example, you could make a note of a certain configuration in the tool and why it was put into place. In this instance, you’d write down the details of it, why you did it, and what you were hoping to achieve with it. When you come to check again, you don’t have to wonder. You can just refer to your notes.
If you don’t already have documentation, don’t worry. It’s never too late to start chipping away at it.
3. Survey your learners to get honest feedback
Once you have more of the technical checks down, it’s time to look at the people who use the system the most – the learners themselves.
Regarding the content itself, learners are usually quick to tell us what works and what doesn’t. However, when it comes to technology, learners tend to be more hesitant.
To get honest feedback from your learners, create an avenue where they have a clear way to tell you what’s working and what’s not. Those who are behind the scenes, cranking out content, may have a tough time seeing it from their learners’ point of view.
4. Create a baseline of metrics for your learning system
This refers to understanding how the system is used. If you haven’t already, a great way to check the effectiveness of a learning system is to track metrics. This enables your organization to create reports on the system itself and learners’ usage.
Typical metrics you could track include login frequency, return visit frequency, and engagement with the content.
Once you have those metrics in place, you can look at the normal activity and see if there are any spikes or dips in usage. This could give you a quick and easy indicator that there’s an issue to look into.
5. Put internal support in place
As with any type of technology or system, there always needs to be support in place. Make sure there’s a clear path for your learners to report issues and get technical support, especially if this is a system your organization has built.
Being the administrators can leave us a bit blind to what the learners are experiencing, so open up that support channel for them to share their ideas.
6. Set up a plan to review support issues
The next step is to review any support issues on a regular basis. Having a place for learners to let you know about issues and feedback is great, but you really need a system to follow up on those.
Try to keep this fairly regular, ideally on a monthly basis, so you’re really staying in touch with what’s happening. Some of the issues that come up may be isolated, but there will be patterns to pick out, and the sooner you can spot these, the better.
7. Communicate what you’re doing with your learning system
The final tip is to communicate, communicate, communicate!
Throughout this process, you will find everything easier if you’re open to communicating. Let your learners know what you’re doing, inform your managers and anyone else involved in the process. Help them understand that learning material and systems are a living, breathing thing that requires maintenance for maximum efficiency.
By being open, you may be more likely to get honest feedback and support from others in your organization.
Do this with your employees as well as with your learning vendor or partners. Make sure that you’re letting your partners know productively and aren’t just reporting when something is wrong. Do so in a productive way that brings a solution or recommendation to the table as well.