Selecting Courses to Meet Learner Needs

By Ruth Kustoff, Principal, Knowledge Advantage

This is the second post in a series of resources for LINGOs members.

Building on my first post, Getting started: Identify top learning needs and develop a plan, this entry will provide some guidance for member agencies in selecting courses for their learning portals. Many new LINGOs member agencies are overwhelmed with course options as they get started.   LINGOs members have access to a menu of more than 3000 on-line courses from which to choose.  Level 2 and Enterprise Members may select from among these courses to include on their agency portals.  Rather than looking at the courses, it makes sense to start with your organizational learning needs.

First, identify areas within the organization and analyze what skills, knowledge and competencies are needed to complete job functions. For example, does your staff have the skills required in key areas such as project management, leadership, meeting facilitation, and communications?

Then, identify how you will look deeper into learning needs of specific job functions to determine the course offerings best suited to your organization.

Identify your learner

To identify what content or learning programs your organization needs, it’s helpful to know who will complete the learning, what jobs they have, and the specific tasks and responsibilities of the jobs.

This process is a large undertaking. I’ve broken down into steps to help you think about what type of learning is required by various job functions.  As individuals assess their knowledge needs, their answers will give you a better understanding of existing skills and knowledge gaps to identify which LINGOs courses are needed, or what course content may need to be created or acquired separately.

During the LINGOs’ Virtual Coffee Break for June, in which Peter Balvanz from FHI outlined the process his organization used to engage staff, plan, pilot and launch its learning portal, we discussed many of the steps I’ll outline below.  Click here for a link to the recording and here to link to Peter’s guest blog from January.

Define Skill Gaps and Learning Needs

1. Survey managers who supervise others what competencies are needed by staff to do specific job functions. Ask managers to identify where their staff members need additional training.

2. Identify type of training or knowledge needed for specific jobs. For example, does the job require knowledge of, and skills in:

  • Specific technical skills: IT Professional Certifications, specific software skills, project management, food security, clinical training techniques;
  • Improved personal management skills or knowledge: time management, writing skills, safety and security, stress management;
  •  Leadership and management: motivational, leadership, supervisory, coaching, performance management, people management.

3. Survey staff Either everyone in the organization or a pilot group can help to identify their skill requirements by job function and title. In the survey, ask individuals what knowledge and skills are required to meet their job needs and goals. You may also want to ask them, or the IT manager for each country/office about internet access to help you determine whether staff will be able to access more bandwidth-intense courses (such as ones that include video). Click here for a list of technical requirements for LINGOs Catalog courses.

4. Select courses After you have determined the job function competencies and knowledge needs, identify and select a defined number of courses that align to these areas. These courses will help staff in each job function/ individual gain new knowledge or information to carry out their job’s requirements more successfully.

  •  With job function competencies identified and aligned to specific content areas and course topics, now you can identify expected learning outcomes. For example, after completing a specific course, a learner (or group with similar job title) will be able to: list functions that can be completed, new skills to be used in what way, or additional knowledge that will positively impact a specific area of the job function.

Course Selection Summary

The LINGOs course library includes courses that are relevant for many job areas across an array of organizations. Once you’ve identified the needs of each job function, and determined skill or knowledge gaps for each job title, you can choose courses focused on those areas. I recommend beginning with a limited number of course offerings, and adding new courses on a regular basis.

Starting small allows your staff to get comfortable with computer based learning and the learning process. It also provides you opportunities to continue to engage with staff and market learning goals, expectations and resources available to them through your new learning program.

In addition to self-paced courses on the LINGOs IntraLearn LMS and through SCORM Dispatch, LINGOs members have access to additional on-line learning content, including virtual classroom content and time-bound courses from eCornell.  Level 2 and Enterprise members can create and upload custom-developed courses to their portals, or purchase access to SCORM 1.2 Compliant courses from other vendors to place on their portals.

To see an overview of courses available from LINGOs, listed by topic and by Developer/Partner click here.

When thinking about developing custom, or bespoke, courses, remember the eLearning Global Giveback Competition, through which you may be able to work with a volunteer instructional designer or eLearning developer to transform your existing content into eLearning.

Upcoming blog posts will address how to build awareness of the learning program with a communications plan, and how to identify learning liaisons and power users in the field.

 Ruth Kustoff is a learning strategist with 20 years experience. She works with organizations to develop and integrate talent solutions, including adult learning, elearning, and training programs. Her expertise includes organizational performance, project management, and information and knowledge sharing.

Ruth is a member of the LINGOs Group on LinkedIn and can respond to general learning strategy questions there. She is also available for consultation for issues specific to an individual organization.

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