Why Knowledge Plus Application is the Best Learning Program Design

Knowledge is great, but without application, you have no way to measure learning ROI. Knowledge plus application is the only way to ensure learning program value.
Knowledge is great, but without application, you have no way to measure learning ROI.

As I said in my previous post, some clients come to me thinking knowledge-only learning programs are fine. As I showed in that post, there’s a huge problem with programs like that: no way to capture ROI.

Without ROI, you can’t show the value of the training function in a company. You need measurement to prove the impact training has on a business.

Knowledge alone won’t get you there. It takes knowledge plus application to create the best learning design. That’s the design that will allow you to measure and prove learning ROI.

How Knowledge-Only Can Transition to Knowledge Plus Application

In my experience, most knowledge-only programs do have an intended application on the job. Most include knowledge that is meant to be applied on the job. That means the learning can be converted to a program that includes application.

This change in mindset can be a challenge to designers not well versed in taking knowledge to the application stage, but it can be done. Without this skill, learning designers will routinely fall back to designing only for the knowledge needed.

I am not naive enough to think that knowledge-only courses will go away. They are embedded in the culture of our industry.

However, my hope is to help learning leaders and designers understand the value of knowledge plus application. Knowledge-only programs cannot show change in an organization. That means knowledge-only learning can’t be measured for application or ROI.

A change in the organization can only be tied to learning if we designers do the hard work. What is that work? To find where change occurs when knowledge is applied. You do that by linking learning to the right behaviors and business metric.

Measurement Occurs Where Change Happens

Change happens when people do something differently. The instructional designer must determine what the learner will be doing differently. Only in that way can they expect the stakeholders in the organization to recognize the changes made from learning. We have to show how our programs are applied if we plan to prove the value of those programs. How do we argue that learning is important to business success if we cannot show with data the changes made by our programs?

At a basic level, learning improves the capability of an organization. It prepares the organization to meet business goals and compete with other businesses.

Only knowledge plus application can deliver on this basic need. If we do not align our delivery with the expected results, we will continue to struggle against the belief that we are not adding value.

Would you like to learn more about how to create measurable learning programs? Do you need help discovering the right business metrics to link with learning? Contact us at eParamus. We’d love to help.

Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD. I’d love to know more about your training challenges.

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