Feb 062011

Learning Technologies; Why appropriate application is so important to individual performance improvement

Learning Technologies: By Tom McDonald, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC

Learning Technologies: Brinkerhoff (2010) suggests that after training, learners typically fall into one of three categories:

1) they do not try to apply training;

 2) they attempt to apply it but realize no worthwhile results and

 3) they apply training and get some positive results.

Learning Technologies: Those positive results tend to be reinforcing and prompt the learners to apply their skills again. Yet, Brinkerhoff (2010) estimates that successful application (group 3) is as low as 20%. The remaining 80% is known as scrap learning—learning that was delivered, but unsuccessfully applied (groups 1 and 2) and is therefore wasted training.

Learning Technologies: If you were given odds that your initiative would have a 20% chance of succeeding and an 80% chance of failing, you would back-off and re-tool.

Knowledge Advisors reports, by their survey respondents’ best estimates, only 9% of learners actually apply what they learn with positive results. Seventy-six percent indicate that learners apply 50% or less of what they learn. That is, the scrap rate is 50% or higher among more than three quarters of all companies.

There are three issues, here, that are simultaneously not being optimized:

1. The manager is not involved enough in the training.

2. The participant is not learning the information, well enough, to recall it appropriately long term.  Information application is then mixed with learning. This results in poor application.

3. The individual participant reinforcement, all with good intentions, cannot be effective and efficient enough, with manual reinforcement.

Granted, manager direct involvement, at all levels of training and individual reinforcement over time is directly and positively correlated to the success of the initiative. More manager involvement and reinforcement = more individual success.

The problem with the manager being the sole reinforcement mechanism is problematic at best:

1. The manager is busy doing all the things that managers do and will reinforce disperse direct reports as best they can.

2. If the individual has not learned the new information to mastery, the manager may be reinforcing old behaviors

3. The manager, even with ongoing individual reinforcement, most likely will not reinforce individual behaviors in the most effective and efficient manner, for long term application

4. The manager, individual reinforcement, is not scalable without learning  technologies. The manager can only effectively and individually reinforce, ‘manually’, just a few individuals.

What’s the optimum solution?

Learning Performance Improvement Technology, learning technologies, web based software, intelligent systems, with individual learning to mastery and individual, scalable reinforcement, all embraced and coached by the manager. This will increase the effectiveness of the manager, the individual retention rate and allow behavioral change.

Related Learning Technologies Information:





Tom McDonald, tsm@centurytel.net; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752 

learning technologies, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC

  The Current State of Scrap Learning and Manager Engagement: