While perusing the Baltimore Sun, the newspaper of the city where I was born and raised, I came across a blog entry describing the attempts of the school system of my junior and senior high schools to launch a laptop program.
The reporter cites a number of other laptop and tablet programs, some of which succeeded, others of which failed.
The reporter suggests some problems used to finance the venture: a “rob Peter to pay Paul” approach to budgeting. Other school systems, like Los Angeles, are paying for their programs through bond referenda. Years ago, I read a piece in USA Today questioning the wisdom of bond-based financing as the technology will have long been retired from use before the bonds are paid off, and new bonds will be needed to fund future generations of technology.
I was surprised that the reporter cites a general, anti-technology book by an English professor from Emory University in Atlanta, rather interview than one of the educational technology professors at local universities in the Baltimore area, for expertise. The University of Maryland at Baltimore County and Towson State University both have good programs and internationally recognized experts in the field. They have more specific expertise related to this initiative.
Data alone, like test results and ROI, does not demonstrate the value of training; communication does. Following are 5 ways to communicate the results to the internal or external clients we serve.
1. Instructional designs. If you want to communicate the value of your work, you need to begin on Day 1. Set clients’ expectations of the results you intend to achieve by including observable and measurable objectives for the content and impact on the business. Educate clients on how to assess effectiveness by including complete evaluation plans, too, in your design plans. Include drafts of proposed satisfaction surveys and tests, and list business measurements to track.
2. Project status reports. Continue to manage expectations during the development process by regularly distributing status reports through the development process. In the report, tell clients how you are managing budgets and schedules, and how you ensure the editorial quality and technical accuracy of the content during development. Most significantly, alert clients to potential problems before they occur (rather than hide them from clients).
3. Post-mortems. At the end of projects, teams tend to focus on an what went wrong. A post-mortem (a debriefing of the entire project) that includes members of the internal or external client team can identify not only the “don’t let this happen again” moments, but also those things that went right. That leaves a more balanced impression with clients.
4. Publish annual reports. Publish an annual report that tells internal or external clients and prospects about users’ responses to the training you developed and delivered, and the business results you have helped clients achieve during the previous year. Not only is this a great means of reminding recent clients how you have helped them, but it helps manage the expectations of new clients.
5. Informal communications. Always take advantage of opportunities to politely tell a client how you have helped them or others. When doing so, be careful about crossing the boundary between informing and bragging. For those wondering what that boundary is, you can always feel comfortable mentioning the subject when clients introduce it.
Whenever you provide information about the effectiveness and value of training, recognize that each client assesses these issues in their own way.
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© Copyright 1996, 1999, 2001, 2010, 2012. Saul Carliner. All rights reserved. If sharing or excerpting, should be properly cited.