Learning Live 2018 preview: How data can help evaluate L&D effectiveness

Next week, learning decision-makers will gather for the Learning Live conference and exhibition to discuss the emerging trends in L&D and how to get the best results from their learning strategies. Ashleigh Wight asks conference speaker Kevin M. Yates about his session on the role of data in assessing training programme effectiveness.

There are many different learning methods open to L&D teams, from mobile learning and chatbots to virtual reality and gamification, each of which might appeal to different demographics and serve differing purposes. But while one medium might be successful for one learner, another might get a more valuable learning experience from another approach.

As learning systems manager at McDonald’s US head office, Kevin M. Yates, will explain at the Learning and Performance Institute’s Learning Live 2018, collecting data about their strategies’ effectiveness is more important than ever for L&D teams and will help inform which choices to make.

Q: What will you be discussing in your session at this year’s Learning Live on 5-6 September?

Kevin: “In my session, ‘Data for Learning’s Impact: Fake or Fact?’, I’ll share my strategy for collecting evidence that answers the question, ‘Did training work?’. I’ll talk about clues that show whether or not training, learning and professional development changed behaviour, influenced performance or helped the business reach a goal.

“I’ll also share some of the secrets to my success when it comes to using data as evidence for showing when training makes an impact (and when it doesn’t).”

Q: What changes do you expect learning and development functions will see over the next couple of years?

Kevin: “I believe there will be higher levels of accountability for learning and development functions to produce evidence for the impact their solutions have had. Expectations are higher now more than ever for training, learning and development to be a driver of employee performance and business success.

“I believe, and we’re already seeing it in some organisations, that L&D teams will be required to use data as evidence for changes that come from training, learning and professional development.”

Q: What are the emerging trends in L&D?

Kevin: “There’s a tonne of emerging trends in L&D: artificial intelligence, micro-learning, xAPI, data-driven design, virtual reality – the list goes on. For me, the important question to ask is, ‘What is emerging in L&D that helps employees use their performance to achieve the organisation’s goals or help L&D run better, smarter, faster?’.

“Trends come and go. At the end of the day, impacting performance and business outcomes is more than a trend. The things we do that are sustainable, accessible to L&D organisations large and small and proven to add value will transcend trends and live a longer shelf-life.”

Q: If you could encourage organisations to make one change to their current L&D strategy, what would it be?

The easiest and most transparent way employers can make sure their employees are engaged with learning is producing and sharing evidence for its impact. We need to show value by answering employees who ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

Kevin: “I encourage organisations to give their L&D strategies higher purpose. For me, L&D exist to empower employee capability through training, learning and professional development – everything about the L&D strategy should align to that and should lead to evidence for how that strategy empowered employees to use their skills in a way that helps the organisation win.”

Q: How can emerging technologies like AI be best leveraged in L&D?

Kevin: “I’m really excited about artificial intelligence for learning and development. With AI we can predict professional development needs based on role, experience, performance history, tenure in the business, etc. The ability to offer customised training and learning solutions is game-changing and removes the ‘one size fits all’ model.

Q: How can employers make sure their employees are engaged with their learning content?

Kevin: “The easiest and most transparent way employers can make sure their employees are engaged with learning is producing and sharing evidence for its impact. We need to show value by answering employees who ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’. When employees want to know why they should invest their time and energy in professional development, we need to have an answer that resonates with them.

“Employees want to know how training will help them meet performance expectations. Will it help them work smarter not harder? Will it increase or improve their capability? Can they depend on training and learning experiences to move the needle on their performance? If we can answer these questions, we can heighten engagement.”

Kevin M. Yates’s session – Data for Learning’s Impact: Fake or Fact? – begins at 1:30pm on Thursday 6 September at Learning Live, which takes place at Etc. Venues, 155 Bishopsgate, London. Registration is open to senior L&D professionals now.

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