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E-learning Curve Blog is Michael Hanley's elearning blog about skills, knowledge, and organizational development using web-based training and technology in education

Learning Professionals’ Skills 2.0 – Learning Circuits Big Question July 2009

July 2, 2009 by Michael Hanley · No Comments · e-learning, Learning and Performance Architecture, Learning Circuits Blog Big Question, learning strategy, learning technology, web 2.0

This month’s Learning Circuits Blog Big Question is

In a Learning 2.0 world, where learning and performance solutions take on a wider variety of forms and where churn happens at a much more rapid pace, what new skills and knowledge are required for learning professionals?

As Harold Jarche and Jay Cross have already addressed the “learning” part of the discussion with informative and illuminating posts on the topic I’m going to talk about the business aspect of the “performance” element highlighted in The Big Question.

Now read on…

I strongly believe that to survive and maybe even prosper in these lcbbqleaner economic times, those of us involved in L&D need to understand that we are also business people. As in any enterprise, we are connected to our customers and clients through a variety of sophisticated and interconnecting partnerships: with organizations, with vendors, with the board of directors, with employees, and ultimately and most importantly with learners.

Our product is our special expertise in learning and development (and all that this entails), and our market is more competitive now than it has ever been. I would assert that if, as a trainer, you feel that you are somehow shielded from the realities of business in the early 21st century, you probably won’t have much of a career in five years time.

Enterprises need e-learning. The pace of organizational change in most companies requires a constant refreshing of skills and the continual development of new competencies. In many organizations, not choosing e-learning as a method to deliver key training initiatives usually means it will not be delivered at all. To remain competitive, enterprises need to:

  • Provide continual, up-to-date training and professional development
  • Distributable to knowledge workers across multiple delivery channels
  • Implement scalable training solutions
  • Ensure plan is developed and deployed within a matter of months, rather than quarters or years
  • $$$ Demonstrate economic viability $$$

Learning professionals should heed their organizations’ strategic and business imperatives, align with them, and deliver appropriate solutions to support them. To make this happen, my view is that learning professionals need to have (or should develop) the skills and expertise to perform in the following domains:




Champions effective approaches to learning


Oversees governance and alignment of business and learning strategy

Learning Innovator

Implements best learning solutions based upon appropriate theories, pedagogies and technologies

Learning Technologist

Collaborates with ICT on most appropriate use of technologies for learning

Human Capital Management Strategist

Supports enterprise performance enhancement

Business-savvy educator

Consults with Lines-Of-Business on learning needs

Learning & Knowledge Manager

Develops and maintains organizational knowledge base and training resources

Organizational Change Agent

Builds a learning culture in the enterprise

Sadly none of this is sexy, but it’s what I believe you need to accomplish to be successful in this domain.

In meetings in my organization I have been known say that being a learning & development professional is a bit like running a truck company. It’s my job to get stuff to the people who need it, and to be honest my customers don’t really care how it gets there, once it arrives on time and it good shape. To extend the analogy, I could argue that Web 1.0 e-learning was like a sports car – it looked great and made a big impact wherever it arrived, but it was quite impractical, required a lot of TLC and maintenance, and while it may be high-performing on the (one-way) racetrack of the information superhighway, try maneuvering it around the multi-storey car park of most organizations’ networks.

Web 2.0 is without equal at delivering vast amounts of information. It is an accessible, multiplex environment, so data can move back, forth, left, right – wherever it needs to go. Learning 2.0 leverages this facility exceptionally well, because communication of knowledge, skills, and expertise, is at the heart of training and learning.

Learning professionals who have supplemented their educational expertise with broader business skills have positioned themselves to add value to their enterprise facilitating their organizations’ performance requirements, and their customers’ learning needs. And that is a win-win situation. 

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