Need-to-Know Tips to Make Your Learning Technology More Effective
How to Choose the Right Technology Tools for Employee Training and Development
As a learning and development (L&D) professional, you likely have some familiarity with the common content authoring tools. Most of us know at least a little bit about Camtasia, Articulate Rise, and/or Adobe Captivate. But if called on to make recommendations to expand your learning technology capabilities, would you know how to build and grow your technology stack?
It’s a common situation. Perhaps you are fluent in instructional design, or work in another specialized area (such as HR), but don’t have quite as much familiarity with the latest learning technology. What you need is a bit of useful information to help your organization consider options to update your learning management system (LMS), improve its performance based on the unique needs of your employee training and development initiatives, and enough flexibility try new things, stay current with maintenance and updates, create scale, and add measurement systems when needed. (Okay, maybe that’s more than just a bit of information.)
So, let’s start with the basics. When we talk about the technology stack, we’re talking about all the components – the LMS, content authoring and management tools, platforms, interfaces and analytics tools – you use to design, develop, and deliver your learning modules. You don’t have to totally understand the inner workings or coding behind each item, but you do need to know enough to be sure that you have the right combination. Your technology should be integrated, flexible to meet the needs of instructors and learners, and provide pathways to help L&D gather analytics to measure KPIs.
With that in mind, how do you choose the right learning technology stack? Here’s a straightforward checklist of three important areas and issues to consider when making your decisions.
A Learning Architecture Training Technology Stack Checklist
You know you need something more than just an off-the-shelf option, because those aren’t customized to your unique needs. Keep these must-haves in mind when considering customizable options.
Integration – This one is arguably the most important on the list if you have legacy systems to work with. Alternately, if your organization is investing in new technology to lay the foundation for your stack, you’ll still want to take into consideration how well your new components can be added on to later. For those reasons, always consider how simple (or complicated) it would be to integrate any new platform with other systems. The ultimate goal, of course, is to have building blocks that provide a flexible, accessible, as close to seamless experience as possible.
Functionality – What are the learning strategies used and prioritized by your organization to support its business objectives and goals? Your technology must encompass those strategies to design and deliver effective learning content. Consider function both for the user, as well as the administrators. You must also consider scale. How many learners will your stack serve? Can you build on it? Further, does it aid or stymie collaboration? Most organizations are making use of digital content and blended learning options at this point. Your technology stack should support use of rich media, and interface with commonly used devices and communication apps (such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams).
Cost and Support – What level of support will your team need to maintain your investment? This one seems obvious, but it’s easy to overlook how important support and flexibility of maintenance will be. Consider that as you’re looking a pricing, budget, and longer-term cost.
When you’re ready to decide, it could be useful to bring in a consultant to assess your technology stack and help you determine your options. A good consultant will actually save you money by making valuable recommendations that take the guesswork (and costly errors) out of the equation. A learning technology consultant can also help you to understand the benefits and drawbacks of any platforms, performance support technology, or portal you’re considering.
Bonus Tips: We recommend that you consider use of collaborative cloud-based design platforms, developed in HTML5 to make it easy to maintain. It is also helpful to use content authoring tools with custom activity libraries and templates built in, such as AllenComm’s award-winning proprietary content authoring tool DesignLab. That way, you can create customized, personalized content designed to address the unique training needs within your organization.
Ideally, your technology framework will include customizable building blocks that combine to create an architecture that will meet your needs. (If you could use more information about learning technology, we recommend you check out some of the options here or contact us to speak with a learning technology architect.)