Creating engaging learning content – the end goal or the start line?

Emma Weber

A key function of learning in organisations has long been to create and present relevant and interesting content to enable the learner to learn. With content curation, open access online learning tools, and self directed learning, the industry wide preoccupation with content is becoming adrift in unknown waters.

In the past, Learning & Development teams in organisations have put 100 percent of their effort into building their content and delivering their content. However, seeing purely the learning content creation and delivery as the end goal in learning is short sighted. Perhaps great content is actually the start line?

Yes, high quality learning content is integral to an effective learning solution, but it’s useless unless the learning is applied into real behavioural change back in the workplace. Organisations must move their focus beyond the content to the real finish line – behavioural change.

The statistics behind this are shocking – despite US companies spending $160b annually on learning, less than 15% successfully apply what they have learnt1. Wasted learning is something that we can all relate to. All too often training notes or workbooks start gathering dust the minute the participant is back at the desk after a learning event.

Successful learning is no longer just about a great learning environment, good content and well-executed programs, but about finding ways to facilitate genuine behavioural change and accountability in the workplace, creating tangible business impact.

A theme emerging from recent learning and HR conferences around the globe has been around organisations rewarding the behaviours of their employees, not the results. Taking this theme into learning specifically; rather than an over-focus on content, design learning for the behaviours your organisation desires which, with successful transfer, will in turn lead to the required results and will give more leverage for improving performance.

Only when the two components of designing for behaviours and a robust transfer of learning methodology start to work together will businesses finally experience the benefits they were seeking that prompted the training in the first place.

Organisations don’t need to start from scratch or source a new type of training or find new training suppliers; they just need to shift their perspective to the real finish line – create and curate great content, but be sure to design for behaviours and support the behavioural change process. Do that and the ROI would be of interest to even the most cautious of investors.

1 Apking, A. M., & Brinkerhoff, R. O. (2001). “High impact learning: Strategies for leveraging business results from training
Emma Weber

Emma Weber is a recognized authority on the transfer of learning. As CEO of Lever – Transfer of Learning, she has helped companies such as Telstra, Oracle and BMW deliver and measure tangible business results from learning. Emma has also been a guest speaker at learning effectiveness conferences worldwide and authored the hugely successful book Turning Learning into Action. Much more detail around the issues and solutions examined in this article are available in the book – please feel free to download a free chapter.