Learning is the business of Higher Education places. It’s what you do, and your resources, efforts, and commitment are directed to learning delivery and success. However, in this environment, it is all too easy to focus on learning as the service offered to your customers while forgetting your most essential learners in this process: your workforce.
This mismatch is further exacerbated by the division that occurs when higher education institutions split learning and performance. Learning is the service offered to service users. Version is the measurement of how workers deliver this. They have become separate entities.
Generally speaking, the HE world is pretty good at the concept of measuring performance in its workforce. However, where the ball is dropped is in realizing that your students, your students, to excel incrementally over time, your employees also need to be learners. In short, managers within HE need to value learning for their workforce and their student body.
Teachers for Teachers
It’s easy to see why HE institutions often end up in this situation. When your very business is delivering learning, surely learning is not needed as a separate thing for the teaching staff and their support? Indeed it just happens? Surely learning resources should only be directed at the well-and-truly-identified students?
But with this method, your same approach to learning gets stuck in the confines of a box. Inevitably, your ability to succeed in delivering learning stagnates. It never develops in a conscious and planned way. And that’s a problem when you think about your future as a body of education and development.
If you want to control and improve your students’ outcomes, you need to plan the learning of and develop your staff in a thoughtful and directed way.
Culture and Priorities
The good news is that performance management (which you likely already do so well) sits very comfortably alongside learning. It’s merely a case of taking the information you have from performance management and actively using it to identify where learning is needed, and then constructing a plan to get there – individual by individual.
The first step should involve broadening your natural culture of learning as a Higher Education setting to include the apparent learners and include everyone. Every single person within the institution needs to be seen as a learner too. Learning, development, and a quest for meeting overall improvement needs to be valued by every person who walks through your halls (or logs in from home…).
In practice, this means that Jane in accounting is working towards a qualification that fits into her career plans and the HE setting’s goals. Marcus, the economics professor, is gaining skills in remote teaching provision, and Lucas in facilities is identified as needing to update his gas safety registration. There’s a sense of synergy and collaboration that everyone is working towards overall goals while also developing at individuals who become more engaged and more focused on their performance.
How to Create Learning and Development Cultures in HE
Every HE setting faces similar issues of size and complexity. Often sprawling, both literally and academically, it can be challenging to develop a single culture. However, like your sports teams and clubs have their sub-cultures within an over-riding sense of belonging to a more significant body, the same can be true of a learning and development culture. It needs to exist as quickly as the team colors, motto or logo.
The easiest way to do this is to pull learning together alongside performance management in one single platform that everyone uses as a matter. Do that, and everyone is working together, learning together, and developing together.