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Kite gets the learning transfer problem airborne


It is a well known fact that the biggest challenge facing trainers is not so much what goes on in the classroom but what doesn’t go on in the workplace. For whatever reason, learners struggle to find the time, opportunity and motivation to use their nascent capabilities in the crucial first few days following the training event. As a result, newly acquired learning is quickly lost.

The journey from learning event to improved workplace performance can be arduous, uncomfortable and fraught with risks. To complete this journey, which could take many months, a learner might need continuing input from their trainer and encouragement from his or her manager and workplace colleagues.

Sadly, trainers are frequently powerless to help and busy managers and colleagues can appear indifferent. With neither support nor reward for their efforts, learners’ motivation to do things differently and better may quickly drain away. Little wonder that on average, less than 20% of what is learned during training gets applied in the workplace.

In the 55 years since the learning transfer ‘problem’ was first articulated, researchers and academics around the world have identified over 60 factors that play a part in inhibiting transfer, but learning and development practice remains stubbornly resistant to change. Some observers put the price of this failure to overcome the learning transfer problem at over $500 billion per year.

Given the scale of this opportunity for cost-saving and the unremitting pressure to do more with less in these times of austerity, it was to be expected that the introduction of a new learning transfer support tool might cause something of a stir within the training and development industry. Kite® is the world’s first and only learning transfer solution powered by altruism and the launch initiative of UK-based not-for–profit think-tank The Kite Foundation.

It works to combine social network technology, in particular a custom app, with the impetus of charitable giving to create a unique ‘learning transfer community’ that can raise money for a nominated good cause in return for evidence that transfer has actually taken place.

The expected benefits to both learners, employers and training departments that have generated so much interest in Kite since its June debut are myriad. In addition to driving learning transfer with all the consequent improvements in training effectiveness, beta test site results show significant improvements in the frequency and quality of dialogue between learners and their managers, reversing a trend that has been observable for many years. Looking at the organisational impact, employee engagement is enhanced by the widening of participation in fund-raising to sections of the workforce not previously responsive to such opportunities.

For organisations with a well-developed social responsibility agenda, the opportunity to involve all staff - or at the very least staff who participate in formal training - in fund-raising, creates a compelling alignment between ‘doing good’ and ‘being better’. And for those seeking data to evaluate the effectiveness of their training, Kite generates over 120 different learning transfer metrics.

I for one can’t wait to see how L&D practitioners respond to this new arrival on the scene. Could it be that the prospect of routine accurate measurement of learning transfer will encourage previously reticent trainers to revisit the design and delivery of their training programmes and place less focus on the ‘happy sheet’ and rather more on performance outcomes? We’ll know soon enough.

For more information on the Foundation and Kite app visit

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