Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Skills for a Learning Professional

The Learning Circuits Blog question for the month: "What new skills and knowledge are required for learning professionals?" coincides with a similar discussion, me and my colleague are having over at Ning: explore learning solutions forum.

These are not new skills, but should be in must have checklist.

Self management skills required:
1. Use of task management software to track tasks and time. I recommend todolist

2. Knowledge of MS Excel: While most learning professionals are experts in word, power point, knowing MS excel is more important. Leaving it as a managers tool for tracking is not a good understanding of the software itself.

Few important skills required in excel are:
  • Linking cells,
  • Frequently used formulas,
  • Conditional Formatting,
  • Work with data manipulation and Report sheets,
  • Pivot table and Pivot charts.
With above skills, Solution that excel could provide are:
  • Information Architecture,
  • Content Analysis/Course Outline/Gap Analysis,
  • Incident/Bug Tracking
  • Questionnaires: Learning Needs Analysis, Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Polls
  • Wire frame and Prototype through Excel
  • Project Tracking and Project Management tasks like resource allocation, planning
  • Store Code/Visual Templates and Code Libraries

3. Understand the final output architecture. If it is going to be in HTML, then it is better to avoid transition effects (unless recent javascript frameworks like EXTJS, JQuery are used.) If it is flash, then the instruction area, size, total word count, how to handle scrolls need to be understood. Check if the text input format is XML, text file, from database, or an object file or is directly embedded in flash/HTML.

If RAD (Rapid Application Development) tools are used, what are their limitations, how much customization and tweaks are possible.

An important question that any learning professional should answer is: How soon will RAD deliver by end output ready for release?

4. Usability and User Experience guidelines and intermediate level of heuristic parameter knowledge in visual communication and functionality design.

For providing Great Solutions:

1. Understand mind mapping and use effective tools: I recommend Free Mind.
2. Record and Note every expectation, instructions and sequencing and structuring progress. I recommend Evernote.
3. Learn XML: The first place to start would be "W3School" e-Learning courses.
4. Learn Manifest file in SCORM: I really do not know why technical people create them, while it is ID who should be checking the LO chunks and create IDREF.
5. Read books: Recommended reading would include:
1. System Thinking Books
Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, Seeing Forest for Trees by Dennis Sherwood

2. Consulting Books
McKinsey Mind, Seven C's of Consulting

3. Presentation and Training Books.
How to Wow with Power point, Show Biz Training

and anything you like. The key is read books in lateral areas.

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