Here’s a quick question. What do you think is the single most important factor for the success of an eLearning initiative (apart from well-designed eLearning courseware)? If you said ‘a visible leader to drive this initiative’, you are spot on in your answer. Based on our past 11 years experience with customers who successfully implemented eLearning in their organization, we can confidently say that every customer who saw increased learner adoption of eLearning could do so because of an eLearning advocate in their organization.
So who exactly is an eLearning advocate?
An eLearning advocate is a visible leader for championing e-learning within an organization. He/ she represents his/ her business unit in the strategic formulation of the organization’s formal Learning and Development policies. He or she can also drive or direct innovative solutions across the L&D function. Coming to the question of whether this is a formal full-time position, the answer is ‘No’. In addition to whatever leadership role a person already has, this is an added responsibility taken on purely out of a belief in the value of this powerful delivery format.
How does having an eLearning advocate help?
An eLearning advocate can play a powerful role in the launch of your eLearning initiative and can provide ongoing momentum for encouraging employees to adopt eLearning. Various studies have demonstrated the proven impact of ‘personal selling’ through eLearning advocates. In organizations that failed to implement eLearning, the failure almost always can be directly attributed to the lack of visible support through an eLearning advocate or the absence of such a role at all.
What are a few characteristics of eLearning advocates?
An eLearning advocate should have these characteristics:
- Should be in a leadership role, with a high degree of influence: He/ she needs to be a key person involved in formulating the strategy or directing the strategy for Learning and Development initiatives either at the organizational level or at the business unit level. Employees are more likely to engage in eLearning if the advocate is someone who is respected and well-known in the organization. When they know that such a person is backing the initiative, they will be more likely to come on board. We’ve seen a dramatic success story from one of our customers, who had a senior operations head as an advocate for eLearning. His involvement and interest was instrumental in driving learner adoption across the organization.
- Should be excited about eLearning: As an evangelist who will drive organizational change and help overcome resistance to eLearning, he/ she needs to have a passion for this medium and a passion for communicating this to others.
- Should have a vision for implementing eLearning: He/ she should be clearly able to see the potential of this medium and be able to communicate this vision both upwards to the top leadership as well as downwards towards employees.
- Should be able to change perceptions to eLearning: Many employees could be intimidated by the idea of eLearning simply because it is new to them. One of the responsibilities of the eLearning advocate is to drive or support marketing initiatives that help change perceptions towards eLearning.
- Should have in-depth knowledge and experience in eLearning technology: He/ she should be an early adopter of new technologies that support learning. For instance, if there is a need to offer eLearning through mobile devices, the eLearning advocate should be quick to identify the potential of this solution and drive the organization in implementing it.
- Should be dedicated to training his unit: The eLearning advocate should be someone who takes an avid interest in ensuring that his/ her unit or department’s learning needs are addressed through timely and relevant training programs.
Do you have an eLearning advocate in your business unit or organization? Do share your story on how the presence or absence of an eLearning advocate impacted the rollout of your eLearning initiative.