Facilitating Webinars and Live Remote Training – 4 Tips

Facilitating webinars and live remote training

4 Tips on Facilitating Webinars and Live Remote Training

Webinars and live remote video training are quite popular and low-barrier options for digital learning in organisations. At times where increasingly many are working from home, we’ve seen a big uptick on the use of these mediums. However, many are still trying out these methods for the first time. For those who are new to the medium, or want to revise their existing practice, we decided to compile a few useful but sometimes overlooked tips from a facilitator’s perspective. Let’s take a look on facilitating webinars!

Disable participant videos in big groups

While it’s nice to see the faces of your participants and peers, running continuous live video may become a usability issue. This is because of bandwidth. Whereas a regular team video meeting runs fine on just about any platform, you may experience connection drops with larger groups, depending on your configuration. Transmitting video in two directions requires a lot more bandwidth than one-way delivery.

Therefore, when facilitating webinars, drop participant video streams in big groups or close their cameras unless absolutely necessary. If you have several dozens of people on the webinar, the interactivity is bound to drop anyways. In fact, when tuning into a presentation for instance, additional faces may even become a distraction.

Use text chats for questions and comments

When facilitating webinars, it’s often a good idea to also use the text chat instead of audio for learners to ask questions and comment. This has two major benefits. Firstly, you’ll avoid the messy moment when everyone is talking out of turn. Secondly, posing questions in writing enables others to read them too, in case they did not get it the first time. Furthermore, it also enables the facilitator to read the question to themselves before answering.

Get a separate moderator for larger sessions

When participant numbers exceed several, it’s often a good idea to bring an a separate moderator. While this helps to take some of the administrative responsibility off the shoulders of the facilitator, it also helps in a few other ways. For instance, the moderator can keep an eye on the discussion stream as the webinar progresses, to get an idea of questions that come up. Often, facilitating webinars already requires extra effort, so make sure to not overstretch the facilitator with too much responsibility. Additionally, a moderator can also prompt the facilitator to explore particular topics in more depth, based on immediate user feedback. During Q&As with large groups, it’s also rare that every question gets answered. Therefore, the moderator can curate the stream of questions ahead of time, to make sure that enough ground is covered.

Record sessions for later use

Many webinar tools come with the option of recording sessions. Generally, there are two great reasons for making use of that function. First of all, recording a session enables the facilitator to review their own performance. They can get an idea of what it looked like from a participant’s point of view, and adjust their own setup accordingly.

Secondly, informative sessions often provide good material for future learning activities. Good training videos take time to produce, and by recording sessions you can get a lot of raw material quickly. However, the emphasis on the word ‘raw’ material. We don’t generally recommend using recorded webinars as-is, and just upload them for users to later view. That rarely happens. Rather, there’s a great potential use for these recordings with a little bit of post-production work. Editing the videos, clipping them into digestible pieces and weeding out the less useful parts of the recording is a good starting point. From thereon, you could also use different tools to make the recording interactive. This helps to keep up learners’ engagement as they view the video at their own pace.

Final thoughts on facilitating webinars

While webinars are a widely used medium, it’s often the small things in their execution that make or break the experience. Whereas on this post we focused more on perhaps the “technical” aspects of running a webinar, it’s also important for facilitators to work on engaging the learners in different ways during sessions (here are some tips for that). And while live remote training is a great low-cost alternative, remember not to overdo it either. Other types of interactive digital learning activities may often provide better alternatives for conveying a message.

How to Design Reflection in Digital Learning

Designing reflection in digital learning

How to Design Reflection into Digital Learning

Research on cognitive science and learning has solidified reflection as an integral part to the learning process. However, it’s not always utilised to its maximum potential in corporate learning programs. In many cases, opportunities for reflection are foregone outright. While certain types of training may provide a more natural platform for reflection, such as leadership training or soft skills, it can be used in practically any type of learning activity. Here’s a little guide on how to design reflection in digital learning experiences.

Why we need reflection in digital learning experiences

There’s quite a number of reasons that make the importance of reflecting on one’s learning apparent. First of all, articulating one’s own thoughts is a key part of learning. Understanding concepts is the beginning, but being able to verbally relate the concept into other concepts and contexts brings learning to the next level. When people can generate their own original insights they are learning at their best.

Secondly, reflection in digital learning is crucial to having a lasting impact. Often, digital learning experiences may revolve on a theoretical level, unlike real life and work conditions. In such case, it’s up to the learner to build the bridge between the concept and how it applies to their work. Experience shows that unless it’s explicitly required, people often don’t take a moment to link the learning to their own tasks. While good learning design helps to bridge the gap, it’s unlikely that it can eliminate the need for reflection entirely. Therefore, providing an opportunity for people to consider the subject matter and how they may use it is a great enabler.

Thirdly, reflections on digital learning also build ground for business improvement. A collective reflection process can act as a fail-safe and a continuous review mechanism. When groups of employees are sharing their thoughts and experiences on learning, they’re bound to point out inefficiencies. Furthermore, constructive group reflection can be a great source of process improvement, whereby learners collectively conceptualise and suggest better ways of doing things.

How to design reflection into digital learning

Designing reflection doesn’t need grande investments, and not even significant amounts of extra effort. Rather, it’s just about providing opportunities for it and incentivising it. While reflection can come in many forms, here’s a handy process cycle that you can follow where possible.

  1. Learning a concept
  2. Reflecting on the concept itself
  3. Reflecting on one’s personal experience
  4. Review the reflections and experiences of others
  5. Articulate own insights

Providing opportunities for the above is really all it takes. Naturally, the tools and methods can also vary. For self-reflection, a journal-like tool or feature may be helpful. In intensive training or coaching situations, a trainer can also keep track and comment on the learner’s reflections. For group reflections and reviewing others’ thoughts, different social learning tools may come in handy. This goes for articulating one’s own insights too, naturally.

What does good reflection look like?

As mentioned, for the most part, reflection in digital learning is about providing the opportunity for it. However, there are a certain rules of thumb that it’s advisable to follow.

Firstly, reflection should be structured. An ad hoc call to “reflect on this topic please” won’t get you very far. Instead, you need to build in reflection opportunities into the learning experience. You can incentivise reflection, or make it even compulsory to complete a program. Structure in terms of e.g. guiding questions helps. Entirely free-form discussions have shown not to function as well as facilitated ones. If the point of reflection is not entirely apparent, spell it out.

Secondly, good digital learning reflection is also continuous. A single instance of a feedback form at the end of a course won’t get you those great insights. Instead, reflection should travel along across the whole learning journey, from the beginning to the end. This provides better opportunities for learners to manage their own learning too.

Thirdly, great reflection is arguably social. By limiting learners to self-reflection only, we are limiting them for access to the wealth of different world views out there. People are very different. And it’s a constant surprise how different the thinking of people in the same environment (e.g. work) may be. Bringing these differences to light is a richness, and learning designers should embrace it.

Final words

Overall, designing reflection into digital learning is a low-hanging fruit. It can significantly improve the learning value of different activities, and it doesn’t cost a lot of time or money to do it. It’s likely that you already have the tools and platforms in place, in which case it’s just a matter of providing the opportunity. And if you don’t, or if you feel like you could use some help in your corporate learning design and content development, feel free to reach out to us here. We’re happy to help.

4 Tips for Training Remote Workers

Tips on training remote workers

4 Tips for Training Remote Workers

Many organisations currently face the challenge of training an increasingly remote workforce. Whereas training itself can sometimes be a challenge, having your employees not present at the office brings about its own peculiarities. While instructor-led training is often an option, it’s not necessarily feasible in the case of the remote staff. Therefore, we’ll use this post to focus on digital learning and the possibilities and challenges of it. Let’s take a look at 4 ways of making training remote workers more effective.

Using asynchronous learning for training remote workers

When people are working remotely, it’s often from home or a personal space. One of the main value propositions of remote working being the flexibility in time management, you shouldn’t take away from that with your digital learning either. Therefore, asynchronous learning can often be the better option. Employees can progress at their own pace and as they see fit.

However, using asynchronous learning in training remote workers doesn’t mean that you should do away with instructors. In fact, having instructors for different modules and courses can be beneficial. It’s just that the instructor’s role in such setting is slightly different. Instead of being at the centre stage, the instructor becomes more of a facilitator and a support resource. They are there to guide the engagement, while still respecting each learners’ own time management and progress.

Communicating well and often is key

Another major factor in successfully training remote workers is communication. In fact, remote learners often need much more communication than those who learn e.g. in a face-to-face setting. On one hand, this is to mitigate some of the feeling of social isolation. On the other hand, it’s to make the goals of the learning and ways of achieving them absolutely crystal clear.

Therefore, it’s advisable to build in more frequent communication touch points into this type of digital learning. For instance, you can consider setting up email flows for weekly recaps, new content alerts, hot topics etc. Also, if you have an instructor – or a facilitator – they should be proactive in engaging and providing value to the users actively. This can take the form of e.g. sharing additional resources and new updates, as well as opening discussions about various topics.

Peer-to-peer learning

While having an instructor for your online course can help to mitigate social isolation, a more social learning approach can be even better. Peer-to-peer learning can be a great way of enabling your remote staff to work together and also contribute to the learning of each other. In training remote workers, peer learning can bring about some much needed group dynamic. Since people are working remotely, it’s likely that they’re already using a lot of tools that enable it.

Even if you don’t employ such social learning platforms, having employees take part in the “content generation” process can still be very helpful. Especially in times when organisations have to digitalise content rapidly, as is currently the case, having more people contributing naturally helps. User-generated content can provide a valuable way of streamlining the digitalisation process.

Creating social presence

Like mentioned previously, the social aspect of learning becomes incredibly important in the case of remote workers. Therefore, it’s also important to create opportunities for social presence – the feeling of being a part of something. For instance, whereas digital learning is often an individual effort, why not make it a group one. Setting up learning groups can on one hand promote accountability, but also create some of that social needed social interaction.

On the learning design front, make sure to build in a lot of opportunities for reflection. Group reflection – even better. Having people sharing their own experiences and engaging in discussions is a major building block to unity as an organisation. To up the engagement even further, collaborative learning experiences where teams strive together for a goal might be even more effective.

Final words

Organisations are increasingly gravitating towards flexible and location-independent working and this has an effect on learning too. As remote working may just become the new norm at least for the time being, it’s important that we re-evaluate our L&D efforts to ensure training remote workers goes smoothly. If you need help in crafting engaging digital learning experiences for a remote workforce, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to provide our support.

How to Use Surveys in Digital Learning? 5 Examples

How to use surveys in digital learning

How to Use Surveys in Digital Learning? 5 Examples

Surveys are a common element in the toolbox of many L&D professionals. While we have administered surveys for a long time, technology has certainly made it easier. Nowadays, you can collect insights as you go, deploying questionnaires in an agile fashion. And what’s even better, the data collection and structuring is automatic! There’s no need to spend time coding interviews and manually transferring data. While there are certainly lots of possibilities, unfortunately often the use of surveys in L&D has been limited to post-training evaluations. However, there’s much more that we the tool can be good for. Therefore, we put together 5 examples on using surveys in digital learning. Let’s take a look!

Development & design feedback

One of the most immediate uses for surveys in digital learning exists in design and development. Once you have rolled out a new learning experience, you’ll naturally want to know what’s going on. While you’ll likely do user testing prior to launching, it’s important that you maintain the feedback loop even after the fact. Learners can thus suggest improvements to the design, flow of the experience as well as the content. This enables you to continuously improve the content. While you should always back up anecdotal feedback with quantitative data, quick and easy feedback can nevertheless bring out valuable user insights. Therefore, make sure to include a quick survey to capture development needs in the all the learning experiences you design!

Surveys in digital training needs analysis

Another great place to ask learners for input is in training needs analysis. Conventionally, organisations conduct a training needs analysis to determine what kind of training they should offer. This may often take into account strategic goals of the organisation and involve executives and line managers. However, it doesn’t always reach the end users – the learners – themselves. But thanks to the various digital learning survey tools, lack of time and resources shouldn’t be a hindering factor.

Involving the end user in the training needs analysis can bring a variety of benefits. First of all, the suggestions that come from the “front line” tend to be much more relevant to the jobs at hand. Often, the end users can suggest ways of delivering immediate value – they’ve been doing the jobs themselves! Secondly, the “front line” is often among the first groups to witness changes in the business, and thus better positioned to evaluate how they could improve their performance through training. Finally, involving the users in the process this way is likely to produce higher engagement – it’s a form of co-creation of sorts. Therefore, you should always ask the end users what they’d like to learn and why.

Personal learning plans and goal setting

A third area of potential use for surveys in digital learning is in personalisation. In this case, we’re talking about individual learning paths and goal setting. While the economies of scale still dictate our decisions, the trend is towards more and more personalised development plans in organisations. A digital survey is an easy way to ask employees about their career plans, current skills, things they’d like to learn and areas of interest. As intrinsic motivation is crucial in learning, it’s important to help the employees set their own goals, and not just inform of them of the L&D function’s goals. Individual goal setting at mass scale can help you also to reorganise the normal flow of L&D, by organising learners into groups based on their interests rather than e.g business units. For such personal goals, you can also consider personal learning analytics to support the process.

Performance reviews

On another front, performance reviews are an opportune place for digital learning surveys too. Over the past years, learning has become an important component in performance reviews for many organisations. While performance reviews are an art of their own, there’s one key thing that makes digital questionnaires lucrative. As such, performance reviews should be a two-way process. Not only do you as a manager review the employees’ performance, but you should give them a chance to do it too. This is easily done with a digital survey. While you may collect novel insights into the workings of your organisation, you’ll also get to view the employees’ side, and empathise with their viewpoint. Furthermore, a survey provides structure and a handy template to manage the performance review process itself.

Qualitative feedback on behavioural change

Finally, the fifth use case related to following up on learning in organisations. Too often, learning is very events-driven and employees either forget or do not apply the learning. And if learners don’t apply the new knowledge – if there’s isn’t some kind of behavioural change – learning itself becomes rather pointless. However, evaluating behavioural change isn’t the easiest thing to do. While you’ll definitely need more comprehensive analytics and a process for evaluation, like the Kirkpatrick framework, and you won’t want to over-rely on self-reported data, qualitative surveys can help in the mix.

For instance, you can ask employees to evaluate their own application of knowledge, as well as others. While calling yourself or your colleagues out for not applying doesn’t get you far, it opens an interesting discussion. Therefore, it’s important to frame the surveys in a way to capture ‘why’ people are not changing. There might be many barriers to application that you might not know about! And until you do, your learning interventions won’t have the desired effect.

Final words

While digital learning surveys have been around for a long time, they may still be under-utilised. There’s quite a lot you can do with the tool and the ability to quickly deploy channels for user feedback and input shouldn’t be overlooked in any setting. If you’d like to review and improve your learning processes, and see how you might support your L&D strategy with surveys, feel free to reach out. You can contact us here.

Tips for Engaging Live Online Video Training

Live Online Video Training Tips

Tips for Engaging Live Online Video Training

Amidst the COVID-19 epidemic, organisations have increasingly moved their learning and training to online. As employees often may work from home, online has become the primary medium for them to learn. While online learning can take place in many ways, we’ve seen a significant increase in live online video training. Whereas normal content digitalisation might be too time-consuming, organisations have found they can digitalise quickly with the help of e.g. webinars and video coaching sessions. However, for many practitioners and organisations, training online in this manner is something new. Therefore, we thought we’d put out a quick guide on how to make this kind of training engaging and effective.

The more interactivity, the better

Sometimes, online video training can be quite a dull affair. The format easily transposes into one-sided lecturing, where the learner’s role is just a passive listener. However, webinars and video sessions can be much more interactive. To really get the most out of the format, you should make it a two-way street. The more learners participate, the more engaged they’ll stay. Therefore, ask questions often, ask learners to share their own experiences, and use polls and exercises to break the routine and create engagement. Also, don’t be afraid to use humour, and try not only to connect with the learners but have them connect with each other.

If you’re presenting, rethink your “slides”

Often, online video training includes some kind of “presenting” by a trainer or facilitator. Especially in these times, it’s likely that the facilitator is using the same slide deck that they’d normally use in a face-to-face setting. However, that can be far from optimal. While you certainly shouldn’t scrap the material altogether, it often pays to make minor adjustments. First of all, in a face-to-face setting, people often rely on the presenter’s body language, tone and presence to take note e.g. when topics change or when key information comes up. However, most of these cues don’t get conveyed through the video. Therefore, you should make sure that the slides and material you use stands out in a way that enables learners to keep up with what’s going on. Instead of lots of text in on the standard corporate deck layout, use highly visual and attention grabbing elements.

Furthermore, don’t include too much information on the slides. You don’t want your learners drinking from the firehose. Similar to principles of microlearning, you’ll want to only present one talking point per slide. Also, by limiting the information on one slide, you’ll be changing slides more often, which helps to keep learners engaged. Also, focus on painting pictures not only through visuals, but also through storytelling. People remember great stories much better than lists of facts and numbers.

Keep it concise, and break it up often

While it’s important to keep the material concise, the same rule applies to the whole live online video training session itself. After all, we can only concentrate effectively for a limited time. Therefore, if your session runs more than an hour in length, you can question whether you’re doing things the most efficient way possible. Also, during the sessions, make sure you break it up often enough. Doing a quick refresher activity, polling, exercises etc. every 15 minutes or so activates the learners and enables them to clarify topics that they might not have fully grasped.

Use the functionalities of your online video training tool to their best

While you don’t necessarily have to invest a lot of money to get started with this type of live online video training, it’s still a good idea to use the tools to their best ability. Here are a few common features across different systems, and how you can use them:

  • Chats: You can use global and individual chats to engage learners, and enable them to ask questions. By posting questions in a chat, they won’t have to interrupt the flow of the facilitator.
  • Recording: most tools are also capable of recording the sessions, which lets learners view them at a later date. However, we don’t often recommend using the recordings as they are, but rather quickly editing them into a more coherent and fast-paced pieces.
  • Polling tools: these enable you to quickly deploy polls to the audience, which help you to map out whether they understood the topic or not and where they might need more emphasis.
  • Mobile-friendly: live online video training should be accessible on mobile too. The most easy-to-use tools nowadays are fully responsive and HTML5-based, enabling learners to access them on just the browser.
  • Learning platform integration: in an ideal world, you’d want the video tool to be integrated to your learning platform (e.g. LMS) to enable automatic tracking of participation etc.

Final thoughts

Live online video training can become a great medium with just a little effort and investment. Like in any kind of learning, interactivity is a key factor. Also, it pays to make the best use of the tools available to you. If you are looking to upgrade your capabilities when it comes to this type of online learning, we’re happy to help. Feel free to reach out to us through our contact page.

Skills Assessment in Digital Learning – 4 Methods

Skills Assessment in Digital Learning

Skills Assessment in Digital Learning – 4 Methods Beyond Quizzes

Skills assessment in online learning can often be a challenge. Whereas we are used to using quizzes to assess knowledge, that may not be quite enough when it comes to practical skills. While quizzes and such often fare well in assessing conceptual knowledge, they have some shortcomings. While conceptual knowledge inarguably forms the foundation, it’s often the execution of the skill in practice that matters in the end. Consequently, that’s also what we should try to evaluate better. Here are 4 methods for practical skills assessment in online learning.

1. Work Samples as Evaluation Mediums

For many practical tasks and jobs, work samples can provide a way of assessing skills development beyond just conceptual learning. In the era of the smartphone and all kinds of pocket-sized recording devices, learners can capture themselves performing a task. They can then submit this to instructors, trainers or supervisors as a piece of evidence that they can indeed execute the tasks. This type of skills assessment in digital learning can also work in e.g. certification training or compliance training. While this does add an additional step to the workflows of both learners and trainers, it still can be easy enough to implement in circumstances that require it.

2. Task-based Simulations

Task-based simulations constitute another medium for skills assessment in digital learning. While you can design them on many different complexity levels, all of the simulation can still happen virtually. In the low-end of complexity, these simulations may consist of situation painted via pictures, text and audio. On the higher end, you can use e.g. videos. Add on questions centred around the practical skills execution, and you can already go quite a long way. Nowadays, tools like 360 immersions and VR provide another level of immersion on top of the conventional mediums incorporated in task-based simulations.

3. Online Collaboration and Discussions

For some particular type of skills, social collaboration and discussions via online tools can also provide a handy method for evaluation. Soft skills, and their practical execution, can be a good theme to centre online discussions around. While creating social presence in learners is important, these methods also help learners to articulate their own views, experiences and challenges. Discussion platforms also enable learners to get support from fellow colleagues trying to overcome the same kind of challenges. When it comes to skills assessment in digital learning, trainers can use these discussions and reflections as a base for their evaluation. The ways you reflect and articulate the meaning of learning tends to be quite a good indicator of learning. Furthermore, learners can also share evidence of “putting it into practice” via these mediums.

4. Branching Scenarios

Finally, branching scenarios and scenario-based tools can provide another effective way of doing digital skills assessment. The scenarios are built to depict real-life situations, and the learners’ task is to manage the situation at hand. These have proven quite effective in assessing skills in e.g. sales, customer service, SOPs, compliance, code of conduct and many more. With good tracking tools based on the xAPI standard, assessors can capture the data of all the interactions and choices taken in the scenario. Therefore, they have a more comprehensive view of the learners’ performance to support their assessment, instead of simply relying on a “final score”.

Final words

As our discourse in the L&D space moves from knowledge to skills, we need to make sure that our methods do as well. While there’s more to learning than just evaluation, skills assessment forms an integral part of modern learning. We need to thus develop better capabilities for assessing practical skills, and do that increasingly online. Therefore, it’s good to consider different methods for skills assessment in digital learning. While building this kind of assessment requires some effort up front, it does pay itself back. And should you need help in the design, we are happy to help. Just drop us a note here.

How to Digitalise Corporate Learning Quickly

How to digitalise corporate learning quickly

How to Digitalise Corporate Learning Quickly

The novel coronavirus epidemic that has taken much of our attention lately has had an impact on corporate training scene in 2020. Whereas many organisations used to rely heavily on face-to-face training, that has now become impossible. While many organisations have deemed it not safe to organise large gatherings, travel bans have also grounded trainers, especially in Asia-Pacific. Consequently, companies are scrambling to put together digital learning offerings to ensure business continuity, in case of a lengthy outbreak. Therefore, we decided to put together a quick guide on how to digitalise corporate learning quickly.

In a crisis mode, decisions we make may be different than those during status quo. Therefore, it’s important to point out that we construct this guide under the following assumptions.

  • Time is of the essence – discontinuation of training puts business continuation at jeopardy
  • The new types of training need to be rapidly scalable
  • New strategies need to be sustainable in case of a prolonged outbreak

How to set up digital learning infrastructure quickly

Now, the first problem that many organisations face is that there’s no digital learning infrastructure in place. While the selection and vetting process under a crisis may look different than usual, the focal points are the ones stated above. If we want to digitalise corporate learning quickly, we need to have a system that enables that. Therefore, a couple of key things to consider from a learning platform include:

  • Out-of-the-box functionality – you don’t want to spend unnecessary time doing custom development
  • Rapid cloud implementation – you’ll want it in the cloud, so people working from home can access. Fast implementation is again needed
  • Rapid learning content creation tools – this is by far the biggest bottleneck in digital learning, you’ll want to minimise it
  • Virtual classroom tools – while not necessarily optimal in the long-term, virtual classrooms enable the fastest training digitalisation

While you shouldn’t consider that list exhaustive, we believe it provides a starting baseline of capabilities to enable rapid digitalisation of learning in organisations. If you need help identifying or implementing such tools, don’t wait to reach out to us here.

How to digitalise corporate learning content quickly?

If you already have a system, or you’re about to have one, the next challenge you’ll encounter is content digitalisation. Normally, this is by far the most labour-intensive part of process. Therefore, you should look for ways to streamline it, and leverage your existing resource base as much as possible. Depending on your organisation and resources, it may be a good idea to engage a vendor to alleviate some of the time pressure. In any case, here are a few directions to consider:

Virtual classrooms

As mentioned, virtual classroom are by far the quickest way to quickly digitalise corporate learning. If your organisation already employs trainers, it’s smart to give them the tools to take their work online. And don’t worry about going into boring webinars, the modern virtual classroom tools can provide much needed interactivity. For instance, a good virtual classroom should enable questions, quizzes, collaboration, polling, smaller group sessions and individual coaching. Remember, it’s also important that mobile functionality and accessibility is good!

Interactive content curation

There’s a lot of great content out there. Likely, you already have a lot of it, too. While documents and slide decks might not be the solution of choice for online learning, you can make them more appealing with relatively small amount of work. For instance, some tools enable you to add interactivity into existing documents and files. You’ll cut the bulk of the work by using existing content, but you’ll also make it more engaging. In case you don’t have a lot of content in-house, you can also consider leveraging publicly available content, e.g. for curating interactive microlearning videos.

User-generated content & social learning

Another option to quickly collect and synthesise training content is to leverage your own organisation in doing so. As practically everyone carries a recording device nowadays, it shouldn’t be too cumbersome to solicit video input from your internal experts. Furthermore, you may also consider exploiting different social tools available to you to create communication channels, whereby people can share learning resources and important updates. During an epidemic like this, it’s good to have more informal communications channels between employees too.

Concluding thoughts

The current coronavirus outbreak situation presents a problem for many organisations. As most employees have suddenly become a part of the deskless workforce, it’s important to view training from a new angle. On one hand, it’s important to digitalise corporate learning quickly. On the other hand, it’s a process that conventionally does take a fair bit of time. However, by considering some of the thoughts above, you can streamline the process a lot. If you need quick help in tackling some of these problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here. We can help you get your digital learning delivery get up-and-running in no time.

How to Design Feedback Loops in Corporate Learning

Feedback Loops in Corporate Learning

How to Design Corporate Learning Feedback Loops

Feedback is essential to how humans operate. As we go about our lives, we encounter many cause and effect type of natural feedback loops. A certain event triggers a certain response, which in turn, becomes a trigger for another response, forming a long cause-effect chain. Ultimately, these chains benefit us as they guide our actions. Feedback loops in corporate learning, meanwhile, should work similarly. As learners complete tasks, we should provide them with positive or negative feedback, helping to adjust their future performance.

While feedback in general should always be of the growth type, it should also be timely and specific. Here’s a 4-step process on designing feedback in practice.

Everything should start with the aim

The aim of the learning is the most important thing to start with. A good learning objective unpacks and clearly communicates the learner what it is that they’re supposed to be striving for. Therefore, it’s vital to pay attention to the objectives already at the design stage. What do the people need to learn, and how does the particular learning resources contribute to achieving that. Every piece of material should always have an aim on its own too.

While knowledge-based objective tend to be the most common, we’d suggest trying to go a bit deeper. In organisations, learning is rarely important because of “knowing” but rather because of “doing”. Therefore, the objectives should be centred around doing too. In practical terms, this means setting up performance objectives in place of conventional learning objectives. Often, they are far less ambiguous and help to clearly communicate the expectations to the learner.

The feedback exchange

The next step for an effective feedback loop in corporate learning is to actually give feedback. First of all, feedback should always be specific. This means that rather than e.g. just pointing out that something went wrong, guiding the learners to the right path. Secondly, feedback should also be timely. The more often, the better. With different digital tools, it’s easy to build streams of feedback across a variety of activities. You can automate a lot of it, in fact.

Then again, feedback should also be non-evaluative to avoid any misunderstandings and keep the focus on getting back to the right path. Finally, all the feedback should be focused on the aims discussed above. If your feedback goes outside the framework of those aims, you might have to either revise the aims or making sure you’re sticking to the agreed-upon “rules”. It’s not fair to expect something out of the learners if you don’t clearly communicate it!

Give opportunities to revise and apply

For feedback to be effective, learners need to first of all identify the right course of action, and then get back on it. This means, that once feedback is given, there should be opportunities to try again. Hence, when designing your learning experiences, make sure the feedback is continuous. If feedback is only at the end, you might keep away the opportunity to improve. Rather, a good learning experience should include a number of ways to practice and apply the new knowledge. The learners would get real-time feedback of these activities, and be able to improve. Then, as another practice opportunity still remains, they can put the new knowledge into practice in a safe environment.

Again, digital tools and technologies grant a lot of possibilities in this space. One can use many different kinds of exercises and activities to give learners the needed space to revise and apply.

Reflection is a key to learning

Finally, one piece of corporate learning feedback loops that is often forgotten, is reflection. To form a closed loop, it’s important to look back at the initial aims and goals. Did learners achieve the given objectives? Did they grow their skills or increase in proficiency? Was learning put into practice?

Learners should, of course, be in the centre of this reflection activity. It’s important for them to grasp the process and their own performance. However, as learning designers, it’s our responsibility to build in such opportunities. Reflections may be personal and individual, but they could also be shared or facilitated digitally. This could for instance enable people to learn from each other’s reflection.

How to support feedback loops in corporate learning with technology?

Ultimately, technology helps us a great deal in designing for and facilitating good feedback processes. Things like digital surveys, social media tools, coaching assistants and personal learning analytics can provide very useful. On the content side, there are also tools like gamification, adaptive learning and scenario-based learning that build on the idea of rapid, continuous feedback. If you’d like to explore how to build better feedback loops for your organisation, get in touch here.

4 Levels of Analytics in L&D & How They Create Value

4 Levels of Analytics in L&D and How They Create Value

4 Levels of Analytics in L&D and How They Create Value

The learning analytics landscape is buzzing. Thanks to digital tools and technologies, the capabilities to track, evaluate and assess the impact of learning have increased manifold. This enables organisations to increasingly understand not only the learning process, but also the impact of learning to the business itself. However, there’s also a lot of misconceptions around analytics. We’ve seen a worrying tendency to paint a picture of deep analytics, whereas the real capabilities don’t extend beyond rudimentary statistics. To clarify some of the possibilities in this space, we put together this look at the different levels of analytics in L&D. Let’s take a look!

1. Descriptive analytics: ‘what’

Descriptive analytics, by definition, focus on “what happened”. Whereas there’s a lot of hype in the space, most “analytics” still constitute just this type. One could argue that a lot of the descriptive analytics is not actually analytics, but rather simple statistics. These, of course, are usually displayed in a visual and digestible dashboard format, reinforcing the perception of analytical power.

As mentioned, the focus is on phenomena and their magnitude. Some arbitrary examples of descriptive analytics could be how many employees completed training, how long it took them, how they engaged with the learning resources etc. Although the analysis part is limited, there’s still value to be had in this kind of analytics in L&D as well. A lot of these things provide a good basis for reporting. Engagement statistics can even help to improve the quality of learning resources. However, using this mostly quantitative statistical data, you shouldn’t forget to use also qualitative insights to get a complete picture.

2. Diagnostic analytics: ‘why’

Whereas descriptive paints a part of the picture, diagnostic analytics help to complete it. In general, these type of analytics aim to answer the question “why did it happen”. The focus, therefore, is in the underlying reasons behind the phenomena described above.

Overall, there can be incredible value understanding the ‘why’. For instance, why did the learners pass on an activity? Why did the learning not translate into action? Why is a particular learning experience successful? While descriptive information is important, it’s often useless unless we understand the why. By understanding the relationship between different factors, we can make better learning – and business – decisions.

3. Predictive analytics in L&D

While the segment of predictive analytics is not entirely black and white, e.g. diagnostics may contain generic predictive analytics, we’ll deal with it as one segment. Like the name gives away, predictive analytics deal with the future. In general, the aim is to answer the question: “what will happen”. This focus makes it a powerful decision making support tool for not only L&D teams, but the business as a whole.

For instance, predictive analytics in L&D can provide valuable insights on the expected outcome of training, i.e. what kind of effect or impact can we expect. It’s also possible to predict trends, e.g. which departments are on the rise, which are regressing. On a more granular level, it can also help trainers and L&D professionals to determine which learners may be at risk and intervene early, rather than too late after the fact. Another interesting value scenario could be to predict individuals’ potential in reflection to their performance in learning, something that one could use e.g. in leadership pipeline planning.

4. Prescriptive analytics in L&D

Finally, the fourth level of learning analytics in this mapping of ours is prescriptive analytics. Whereas predictive analytics focus on what the future is likely to look like, prescriptive analytics in turn focus on “how to make it happen”. Similar to the previous, these analytical tools tend to offer businesses significant support and power in their decision making. Just like a doctor, the algorithms prescribe a particular course of action to fulfil a given goal.

In the realm of L&D, prescriptive analytics can come in handy on many fronts. One application is to provide recommendation on learning interventions. For instance, the algorithms can calculate the optimal learning paths for different groups or individuals, and identify suitable resources or courses for them to take to progress. Furthermore, these tools also enable scenario analysis, e.g. how to best roll out certain programs. Overall, the goal is optimisation across the board, and the analytics provide the recommended courses of actions to do that.

Final words

Overall, all the different levels of analytics can provide value to learning organisations. Although, the value tends to increase the more sophisticated the analytics in L&D. The development in the space is rapid, and we are constantly finding new ways of capturing learning impact and delivering value through learning. Tools like learning big data, as well as artificial intelligence, are necessary pieces to the puzzle nowadays. They enable us to constantly develop even smarter solutions. If you’re looking to get your L&D analytics strategy up to speed to be able to visualise the real impact of learning in your organisation, don’t hesitate to drop us a note. Let’s take on the future of learning together.

AI Tools for L&D – Examples & Uses

Artificial intelligence tools for L&D

Artificial Intelligence Tools for L&D – Examples & Uses

The advent of artificial intelligence brings about significant analytical power that corporate L&D can take advantage of. While the AI technologies are generally nothing new, the significant increase in computing power has made the rapid development of recent years possible. Whereas the strong all-powerful AI remains a dream, there are a lot of practical applications for the technology. Here are 3 examples and specific use cases for different AI tools for L&D.

Recommendation engines & algorithms

One of the most commonly implemented AI tool in L&D is a recommendation engine. Most often used for recommending content, the engine analyses the context of an individual learner, and aims to offer a personalised curation of learning resources based on the materials given. However, it’s worthwhile to note that these types of recommendation engines have existed for long, even without AI.

Whereas content recommendation works on a relatively micro level, it’s possible to use the same principles on a wider spectrum. Some of the more advanced recommendation algorithms and AI tools don’t just recommend content, but can also extend to recommend different interventions and courses of action for the L&D team. For instance, the algorithms can provide suggestions on learning paths for different groups.

Grouping algorithms

Another great example of AI tools suitable for L&D are grouping algorithms. While they constitute a very basic form of machine learning, these algorithms can be a powerful tool. Essentially, what the algorithms do is they analyse different individuals or groups (e.g. business units, departments, locations) and their attributes. For instance, the algorithms could detect groups with similar recommended learning paths. Consequently, the L&D could use these inter-organisation groups as basis for organising learning, rather than arbitrary division.

Furthermore, another use case is to use similar grouping algorithms to group people based on their ability. This type of use would detect individuals’ and their groups’ common existing capabilities, and propose reorganisations based on that. In practice, this would enable further personalisation of learning by dividing the organisation into groups, and offering each group the optimal difficulty and degree of content.

Predictive analytics and modelling

Another great use of AI tools for L&D is on the analytics front. While there are several uses for learning analytics, AI makes possible more than what we are used to. Instead of simply reporting descriptive analytics, AI enables us to get into diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytics. Diagnostics generally aim to answer why certain things happened (i.e. why did learning results drop). While that in itself is incredibly valuable information from an organisational development perspective, there’s still more to unlock.

Predictive analytics enable us to answer questions about potential impact (e.g. “what will happen if we get learning engagement to increase by 20%?”). This enables organisations to run “what if” analysis and supports them in identifying the areas of L&D where it’s possible to make the most impact. Prescriptive analytics, on the other hand, do a similar thing, centring around inputs (e.g. what do we need to do to raise learning engagement by 20%). While these kind of analytical powers require significant commitment in measurement and defining relevant parameters, they provide a tool for L&D to demonstrate its impact to the business that hasn’t been around before.

Final words

While AI is currently suffering a slight inflation thanks to its buzzword status, there are a lot of great AI tools for L&D out there and in the making. These tools not only enable learning professionals to offer better learning experiences, but also to understand the impact of learning. There’s also big potential in automatising a lot of the conventional information gathering. This, in turn, should enable L&D teams to focus on their core competence – delivering great learning. If you’re interested in the different possibilities AI can offer and how to use AI in organisational development, contact us here. We’d be happy to share some of our experiences, examples and research.