5 Tools for Corporate Learning Campaigns

Finally it’s ready. You’ve just designed and rolled out a great learning program for your entire organisation. You’ve spent months working on it, but now it’s finally out there. The best content, great modalities of delivery, highly relevant topics – everything seems to be in place. But once you launch, the excitement stops. You find that only 15% of your people have used the program, whereas you intended it for the whole organisation. Rest assured, many L&D professionals face similar kinds of problems. They design great learning, but nobody knows about it, and therefore it goes to waste. However, you shouldn’t give up just yet! You just need to start running some corporate learning campaigns! Here are 5 tools for effective awareness generation at the workplace.

Email campaigns and newsletters

Despite the common sentiment, email is still a highly effective medium – just ask any marketing professional! If you want to create awareness around your corporate learning programs, email is a natural tool. As it’s probably the most widely used channel for official engagement, you have some of your work cut out for you. Nudging learners towards your content and reminding them about self-development can go long way. Also, should you want to add more marketing flair to it, you can consider e.g. newsletters. And don’t worry about getting your people to sign up to your learning campaign mailing list – you already have their emails!

Text messages get you closer

Some marketing research has found that text messages are in fact the medium with the highest open rate. People tend to open text messages immediately, contrary to e.g. email. Therefore, text messages can be more effective for inciting fast reactions. Some organisations have gone even further than just text message learning campaigns by using the medium for content distribution as well. E.g. you could easily distribute microlearning resources this way.

Follow the logic of banner ads

In organisations, especially large ones, there tends to be a lot of complicated software and tools that people have to use. Sometimes it’s too much to remember it all. Following the logic of banner ads that you see on just about every web shop, you could link learning resources back to their contextual environment. E.g. if an employees needs to deal with with the ERP system, you could display banner ads about the learning resources related to the use of that software within the software itself. In general, if your using company devices, it’s possible to display these kind of banners just about anywhere, e.g. on the employees’ desktop or screensaver.

Social channels can generate buzz

If your company has internal social media channels or similar kinds of productivity tools (e.g. Slack), they provide a natural habitat for corporate learning campaigns. These social channels enable you to spread the word quickly, and you can also enlist the help of your colleagues in spreading the word. Liking and commenting on posts, or sharing learning programs can provide the much needed personal testimonial that helps you to get more people to come onboard. You could also take a play out of the modern marketer’s playbook, and incentivise such sharing via referral campaigns.

Referral campaigns can create a snowball effect

The referral marketing scene has exploded in recent years. Just about any software or internet economy company has a referral program. In general, this is a trend that you could use in learning campaigns as well. Incentivise your people to share desired messages or their own testimonials about training programs and reward them for e.g. visibility, clicks, sign-ups or as their referrals complete the program. The rewards could range from non-monetary incentives to even aspirational ones. You decide how much you want to invest making sure people find your learning programs!

Final words

In our day-to-day, we see an unfortunate amount of learning programs and resources having sub-optimal usage or even going to waste. It’s not that the programs are not great, they are, it’s just that people don’t often know about them. Therefore, take a note of these learning campaign tools, and use them to get people to sign up for your own internal programs! If you need help in designing campaigns or the learning programs itself, we can help. Just drop us a note here.

Towards Smarter L&D – eLearning Predictions for 2020

As we’re setting our sights on 2020, we can reflect on how the field of L&D developed in 2019. However, it’s also important to keep an eye on the future, and the things that are around the corner. Whereas learning technologies are advancing at a great pace, the field of L&D is undergoing a philosophical shift too. Without further a do, here are our 2020 eLearning predictions and thoughts for the new year.

Learning technology “stacks” become more fragmented

One thing that we’ve witnessed over the past year is the growing shift away from conventional LMS systems. Legacy systems have not been particularly learner-centric, and that has become a challenge. Therefore, we are seeing the new category of Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) emerge. However, it seems that this space is going to move into a massive gray area, whereas LMSs are getting more LXP-like features and vice versa.

However, it’s likely that in the midst of this shift, organisations have realised that one product may not rule them all. These big systems and platforms have traditionally tried to do “a bit of everything”. Yet, we are learning to appreciate tools for specific uses that work well for just that task. For instance, there might be a great tool for a particular type of learning, e.g. social learning for leadership, but you’ll certainly need more tools alongside it. Hence, one of our 2020 eLearning predictions is that we’ll see more variety in technology. Should this prediction materialise, it’s important to make sure your learning technology is well integrated.

Move towards more human-centred learning experiences

While the past couple of decades have seen a big push for digitalisation, we might have been a bit too fast at times. It’s unfortunately easy to forget the learner itself. As an eLearning prediction for 2020, it seems likely that we are starting to re-evaluate how we approach the whole concept. Whereas learner-centric design and methods are getting a lift, we’ll also look to see a focus on fitness for purpose. After all, we are not learning for learning’s sake at the workplace, but to do our jobs better.

For the future, we hope to not be judged by the quantity, but rather the quality of content and experiences. As we reflect back, we can say that less is often more when it comes to learning. And we should live by that. Also, if we wish to build great experiences for our learners, we need to build empathy. Along with other design thinking methods, empathy helps us to focus on the human, the learner – the individual.

Increased focus on evaluation, measurement and analytics

Finally, one field that is rising constantly, is the field of learning analytics. For another eLearning prediction for 2020, it seems evident that this trend is only growing stronger. L&D has been in a difficult position for quite a while. A lot of great work is being done, but credibly proving that the work is worthwhile has proven to be a challenge. With the emergence of tools like xAPI and AI, we have reached technical capability.

However, an area we still need to spend time on is the methods. Unfortunately, the way we evaluate learning in organisations is often simply lacklustre. Feedback forms, “happy sheets” and assessment that only tests immediate recall doesn’t quite cut it from a methodological point of view. On the other hand, it’s not even enough to do that. As learning transfer is actually the important part, that’s what we should assess. Corporate learning only produced results if it gets people to change their behaviours in a way that positively supports the business. And what this means is that L&D is going to have to dive much deeper into the business in 2020!

Navigation Design in Digital Learning

From a design perspective, the digital learning field has been evolving quite a lot in recent years. Whereas we used to rely on highly linear e-learning experiences, we have since understood that we might need other types of delivery too. When designing learning, navigation is an integral part of the final experience: do we want learners to be able to explore freely? Or do we want them to stick to the “path” that we’ve designed? Naturally, there are various benefits and downfalls for any approach you choose, so let’s examine them in more detail. Here are three different navigation design approaches for digital learning, and their potential impact.

Locked navigation: structured, linear paths

First, locked navigation is still probably the prevalent and previously dominant approach in e-learning. What locked navigations means is that learners have to proceed through the learning experience in a pre-defined order. Proceeding to the next step may require playing all the content in the module, completing assessment or performing other tasks. The predominant logic of locked navigation design is that there’s a pre-defined path and each learner should go through it all.

Benefits

  • If you’re using narrative in the learning experience, learners get the whole story.
  • The experience is highly consistent among all learners
  • The user experience and flow is smooth: learners don’t have to worry about where to go next

Pitfalls

  • Forces learners to go through everything, which often results in a more one-size-fits-all experience than something personalised.
  • Doesn’t address learner needs and context very well, e.g. some might only need parts of the information, which is now locked down.

Unlocked navigation design: free-flow discovery

Opposite to locked navigation, unlocked design entails more free-flowing learning experiences. Whereas learners were previously on a pre-structured path, here they’re able to choose where to go, based on their immediate needs and preference. In general, there is some narrative or linear sequence to the learning experience, and navigation aids to guide the learner, but the final “journey” is highly dependent on the individual.

Benefits

  • Individuals can pick and choose what to learn and when, which personalises the experience ever so slightly
  • They can direct their efforts as they see fit. E.g. skip topics they already know, while putting more time into the new things.
  • The experience is less likely to feel forced and “pushy”

Pitfalls

  • Without adequate cues or nudges, the learners might miss or skip some important things.
  • Narrative structures don’t work with a “free-flow” design approach
  • Learners have to self-regulate their own learning; are they capable of doing that?

Adaptive learning navigation design

Finally, a third alternative, enabled by technology, is adaptive learning design. What it means is that the choice and curation responsibility of the learners is eliminated. Instead, through careful and meticulous design and content mapping, each learner is directed onto a journey based on their previous performance. For instance, a learner scoring low for a particular topic might be given reinforcement on it, whereas a more advanced learner might be allowed to skip the module altogether. The idea is to deliver highly personalised learning and eliminate the burden of choice.

Benefits

  • The learning experience is personal and tailor-made to each individual
  • Continuous assessment of learning, skills and engagement to direct learners further
  • Each play-through can be different, and learners don’t have to worry about finding the right things

Pitfalls

  • Designing adaptive learning content requires an extensive amount of work initially
  • AI algorithms powering up the “adaptive” require training, however the process is possible to do without AI

Final words

Overall, it’s good to see that learning and development is utilising more varied navigation design practices. Just like with any design, the goal should be to find the right fit for the given situation. Therefore, it’s really important to spend time on these approaches in the design phase. If you’d like to explore possibilities with different navigation design strategies for your digital learning, don’t hesitate to drop us a note. We’d be happy to help.

How to Design Alignment in Corporate Learning

If your corporate learning lacks engagement – or strategic focus – it might be due to problems in alignment. Aligning corporate learning with various stakeholder goals is incredibly important. By aligning with employees, you build engagement and relevance, whereas focusing on the business can build strategic value. However, it’s not always easy connecting these two. Therefore, we’ll take a look at how you could design alignment in workplace learning.

Aligning learning with business goals

First, let’s start with the business goals, as they arguably tend to most often come first. Whether that’s the best way, we’ll let you decide! There’s a lot of talk about aligning learning with business goals, and that seems to be a priority for many L&D professionals. In most cases, the L&D tends to try act as an executor of some bigger vision from the organisation’s senior leadership (e.g. we want to become an innovative organisation). While certainly strategic, you’ll want to pay attention to the problem space in particular in these kind of cases, i.e. is learning even the right tool to solve this kind of strategic issues? In some cases, it might not be, and hence producing learning or training programs to try to address the problem is not gonna yield very much results.

However, aligning corporate learning with business goals can also happen on a more granular level. Everything doesn’t have to be big and strategic. Ultimately, the goal of L&D is to help people perform better at their jobs. Therefore, putting yourself out there, and asking exactly that can be a powerful tool. By focusing on real issues faced by real employees, you provide tangible value. The learning component represents much less of formal learning than it used to, but it’s not a bad thing! Also, as you’re working on practical business problems, you also have tangible metrics to measure your learning success against.

Aligning corporate learning with individual goals

While the alignment with business goals is important, it’s not everything you should do. Many organisations face challenges due to engagement in training programs, and the lack of it. The lack of engagement, on the other hand, might be result of low to no alignment.

First of all, getting people to learn is already a challenge on its own. In reality, people don’t really respond to e.g. strategic objectives as a way of justifying why they should go through training. To nourish engagement in learning programs, you need to convince people that it benefits them, not just the company. Secondly, the benefits themselves might come in various forms, and it’s necessary to communicate them in order to facilitate change. Perhaps the training unlocks career opportunities or prepares people for specific tasks. It might also be just a new way of doing the existing work that is easier, more convenient or less cumbersome. Or finally, the benefit might even be personal (e.g. a lot of soft skills training might carry benefits beyond the immediate scope of work).

Once you identify those individual value points, delivering meaningful and engaging learning becomes much easier. Then it’s just a matter of communicating the benefits! That’s where L&D can borrow a few tricks from marketing, or where storytelling might become a good tool to use. Also, thinking of learning from an individual or employee perspective provides a good opportunity to critically review some of the activities an organisation might be doing. If there’s no individual value-add to be found, it’s likely that the “bigger” business value is not out there either.

Final words

Overall, the best corporate learning programs manage to combine these two. They might start out with an individual value proposition (i.e. what does an employee get out of it personally) but tie that in to the bigger business goals and ways of achieving them. As the learners see immediate value to their own selves and jobs, they are much more likely to implement the learning in practice, and by doing so, make progress towards the business goals. Furthermore, starting to think about the employees first is a good stepping stone into a more learner-centric culture. If you’re facing challenges in learning engagement, and think you could use some help, don’t hesitate to drop us a note. We’d be happy to discover problems together.

Learning Nudges as Training Reinforcement Tools

Corporate learning often requires a bit more than just delivering information. It may be hard to get learners to engage, but also to retain knowledge once they’ve “consumed” the learning. However, one of the biggest challenges is in learning transfer: getting the learners to actually change their behaviours. A possible solution to these challenges is learning nudges. Here’s how to start nudging your learners towards better results.

Learning nudges as engagement tools

The first challenge in corporate learning is to get the learners actually engaging in the process. As organisations digitalise their learning programs, we are seeing an increase in self-paced learning. However, that’s often a challenge for engagement, as the responsibility falls on the individual. People forget learning tasks, or might postpone them due to other work. However, nudges are a good way of getting them back to the process. A simple reminder often goes a long way, and it can be in the form of an email, text message or a notification.

However, you shouldn’t spam either. Rather, it’s important to find the right times to nudge people. For instance, the slow period after the lunch break might be an opportunity to get people to activate themselves on some learning. Or slower periods of business activity might provide an opportunity to invest more time into development.

Nudges as learning retention tools

Learning nudges can also serve as retention tools. Just as demonstrated by the forgetting curve, people forget a lot of the learning unless it’s reinforced. Small nudges, whether it’s quick quizzes, bite-sized resources or self-evaluation questionnaires help to reactivate the previously learnt subject matter. By doing that over time, the knowledge transfers from short-term memory to long-term memory. The spaced learning theory can help to determine the optimal intervals for this type of learning reinforcement.

Driving behavioural change with nudges

Finally, one of the biggest challenges in learning is getting people to actually implement new ways of doing. Even if the learning is highly inspirational, and the learners sees the benefit of doing things in a new way, it’s just too easy and comfortable to go back to the “way this has been done”. Thus, behavioural change requires lots of support. We need to remind people, we need to encourage people and we need to collect and deliver feedback. Positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions can have a considerable impact on people’s behaviour. Learning nudges, on the other hand, are the channel for delivering those. Furthermore, you can also deliver performance oriented nudges without too much prior learning. Helpful resources are always welcome. For instance, you could remind people of the behaviours of top performers in the organisation, with the intention that they’d follow suit.

Final words

Learning nudges are a great tool for re-engaging, reinforcing and driving behavioural change. With the mass of communications tools and channels available today, running good nudging campaigns doesn’t require a lot of resources. If you’re using productivity tools or learning systems, it’s also likely that these have features suitable for nudging. The tools are there, it’s just a matter of smart, unobtrusive design. If you need help in designing learning engagement, reinforcement or behavioural change campaigns, feel free to drop us a note, we might be able to help.

Knowledge Assessment in Corporate Learning – 5 Methods

Whenever we do training, it’s generally a good idea to include some kind of assessment. As organisations, proper knowledge assessment enables us to track employee development and conduct analysis on instructional efficacy. While it’s important to go beyond this level of assessment to capture real organisational impact, it’s vital to get the basics right. A challenge in corporate learning is that the evaluation is often too immediate, intimidating and ineffective. Here are 5 methods that not only help in those aspects, but can also make testing more fun!

Continuous assessment with low-key quizzes

One of the challenges of assessment is that it’s often only administered after the fact. However, good evaluation should be continuous. Therefore, instead of saving the quizzes and test until the end of the course or activity, distribute them throughout. This also helps you as the evaluator to spot learning challenges early and intervene accordingly. Furthermore, instead of a daunting battery of never-ending questions, use them in small sets embedded in the content. This makes the whole thing a little more approachable, as the continuous type of questioning feels more like exercises than formal testing.

Constant tracking of activities

Another less quizzing-focused way of knowledge assessment is seamless tracking. The idea is to use comprehensive data collection tools, such as xAPI, to continuously collect engagement data on digital learning experiences. Formal testing is replaced by benchmark measures for user inputs and outputs, that the analytics track learners against. For instance, those who engage with a training video for its full length receive a “higher score” than those who didn’t. Alternatively, those who have made contributions or reflections about the learning on the organisation’s social learning platforms receive higher marks than the rest. These are just a few examples, but the goal is to make evaluation as seamless and automatic as possible.

Scenario-based simulations as knowledge assessment tools

Training simulations are not only good for simulating real life scenarios, they can also be used in highly practice-oriented assessment. This form of evaluation models real life situations and application contexts of the content. Therefore, instead of just answering abstract questions, the learners are able to apply the knowledge in a virtual environment. Depending on the training topic, you can assess multiple variables, e.g. speed, accuracy and confidence. The great thing about these simulations is that they also can make learners more confident in applying the skills on the real job environment, as they’ve got some practice under their belts.

Social analytics for social learners

In case you’ve already implemented social learning tools in your organisation, there’s an interesting alternative to conventional quizzing. Relying on the notion that reflection is one of the most important parts of learning, social analytics can help us to analyse interactions and provide a novel way of knowledge assessment. If you’ve implemented e.g. discussion boards, you could use analytics tools to evaluate learners based on the quantity and quality of discussion they bring in. For instance, simple counters can collect the quantity of comments by a particular learner. Similarly, other algorithms can determine the quality of those comments – whether they contribute to the discussion or not. If you already have a good learning culture, this could present an interesting alternative to some assessment.

Before-, after- and long-after quizzes

Finally, if nothing else, you should at least provide a knowledge assessment opportunity before and after a learning activity. This helps you gain insights into the development that happens. Furthermore, pre-tests can also serve as valuable data sources for instructors and designers, based on which to personalise the learning content. However, an interesting addition would be “long-after quizzes”. The problem with most post-training tests is that they’re too immediate. They tend to capture short term recall rather than real learning. As the forgetting curve tells us, people tend to forget a lot over time. Therefore, introducing quizzes some time after the training can serve a meaningful purpose of capturing the amount of knowledge that really stuck.

Final words

Overall, good assessment is an art form of sorts. There’s no single right answer to what works best. As long as you’re working towards more formative assessment, you’re on the right track. Getting the basics right by asking good eLearning questions also helps a lot. However, this kind of knowledge assessment is only the beginning. We still need to understand how learning translates into action, and how action translates to performance. And it’s the latter two that pose the real challenge in corporate learning. In case you need help solving those challenges, or just in building better corporate learning assessment, we’re happy to help. Just drop us a note here and tell us about your challenge.

5 Immersive Learning Tools for Corporate Learning

Immersive learning is becoming more popular with organisations of many kinds. On one hand, corporate L&D professionals feel the need to provide more engaging experiences to enhance retention. While there’s a lot of inaccurate information out there, one thing holds true. The more multi-sensory the learning experience, the higher the likelihood of retention. On the other hand, we have realised that there are rarely adequate opportunities to practice new skills in the conventional flow of corporate training. Whereas immersive learning can act solely as a retention catalyst, it can also provide a safe environment to practice. Here are 5 tools for achieving these goals.

1. Game-based learning

In game-based learning, the employee is often put in the middle of it. They might assume the role of a protagonist, and the goal is to proceed on the storyline while completing learning-related tasks. The tasks may be explicit, or learning goals might be designed in without very detailed explanation. Game-based immersive learning elements work the same reasons games work. They provide an immersing experience – usually a storyline – as well as challenges and reward the player as they go through the journey. Corporate learning games can be both long and short, and played individually or in a group, which may add to the experience.

2. 360° Learning Immersions

Similar to games, 360 degree learning immersions put the learner at the centre – quite literally! These 360 experiences are often used when there’s a need for a visual resources and reference. For instance, property security staff may use such simulations as a job aid, or engineer may use them when mapping out the layout of a building. As such, this kind of immersive learning experience provides not only a visual reference, but also spatial. Learners can move through spaces in the simulations, and complete tasks and query extra information as needed.

3. Virtual reality

Arguably, out of all the mediums for immersive learning, virtual reality (VR) has got the most attention in recent years. The level of immersion is on its own level, and as such, there are a lot of applications. There’s potentially great value in training areas that are technical, risky or hazardous. Instead of practising on live equipment, or in live scenarios, learners can master the skills needed in a virtual environment, which greatly reduces risk and operational efficiency for all parties involved. As virtual reality develops, we are getting access to more critical features. For instance, data tracking capabilities are currently being developed, which enables us to analyse the consumptions of these experiences. Furthermore, VR content authoring is also becoming less cost-intensive as stock libraries expand and tools develop.

4. Augmented reality

While VR has been getting the lion’s share of the attention, augmented reality (AR) has flown under the radar. Many initial applications have been using phones as an interface. By engaging with content through your phone camera, you’ve been able to launch AR content. This has been used e.g. in team-building, onboarding and leadership training. However, more is coming. With the advent of commercially feasible AR wearables (e.g. glasses), companies are able to bring performance support to life. Instead of going through static resources, employees can now consume learning materials without disruptions to the workflow. Wearables with voice control enable hands-free operation, and connectivity can even bring experts to analyse a live situation from a remote location. While the learning with these tools is perhaps more on-demand than others, it’s certainly immersive learning.

5. Simulations

Finally, simulations are an immersive learning medium that the industry has used for a long time. Simulations generally follow the structure of a decision tree, or a branching scenario, where each decision determines to direction one will go to next. These experiences put the learner in the driver’s seat, and enable them to practice in a scenario that resembles a real-life encounter. While organisations tend to employ these for customer service, sales and soft skills, they are generally an easy way to provide a safe environment for practice for most non-technical skills.

Final words

Overall, immersive learning tools are a necessary component of a good L&D toolbox. While they likely help to increase retention, they also provide a safe environment for practice. And practice is critical, if you want learning transfer to really happen. The technology in this space is developing rapidly, so expect great things ahead. And if you’d like to bring some immersive learning technologies to your organisation, don’t hesitate to drop us a note. We can help you select the right tools for your problem.

Learning Technology Integrations – A Quick Guide

Often, a challenge in using information systems in complex organisations is that the systems don’t talk to each other. Information is scattered and outdated, transition between different systems is not easy and it’s hard to get a unified view of what’s going on as data is spread across multiple silos in different formats. Hence, system integrations have become important. As more technologies emerge in L&D, the topic has become important here too. Therefore, we put together a quick guide on the most relevant learning technology integrations you should know. Take a look!

Single Sign-on Integration

Single sign-on (SSO) is a basic learning technology integration but a handy one. With SSO, your users are able to login to the different learning technology systems by using their existing company accounts. For instance, say you have Microsoft accounts that employees use for identifying themselves. Instead of having to remember a new set of login credentials, employees are able to login to other systems with them.

The benefits of SSO integration include user experience and security. Moving between different systems is much easier when you don’t have to login separately. Also, less credentials means more security. Furthermore, as the company controls the original credentials, security interventions can be swift. Also, as soon as an employee’s account gets terminated, they lose access to all the other systems too.

HR system integrations

While you’re using learning technologies, you also most likely have some kind of HR system. Another important learning technology integration happens between that and the learning technologies. The goal of such integration is to update information at both ends automatically. For instance, the learning tool pulls personnel data from the HR system, and assigns the user learning based on that information. Thus, whenever there’s a role change, you don’t need to manually assign new learning tasks. Also, the learning technology tool can push back information to the HR system. For instance, whenever an employee finishes a learning path, the tool sends information to the HR system.

The benefit of this type of learning technology integration is the elimination of manual administrative tasks. There’s no longer a need to retrieve and upload e.g. excel files between different systems. Furthermore, with good initial configuration, employees can e.g. automatically get access to learning resources based on their role, seniority, business unit, geography etc.

LRS Integrations

Learning Records Store (LRS) is a powerful tool based on the xAPI framework. It enables the collection of data from multiple systems under the same roof. For instance, you may have multiple LMS systems that all feed into this same data archive. Or you might feed in face-to-face training records, mobile app and performance support tool data. While it may require data operations, it’s also possible to pull in data from non-learning systems, such as performance management system or that HR system to an LRS.

With this kind of learning technology integration, you can have all your training-related data, and much more, in the same format, in the same location. This makes effective learning analytics a lot easier. Hence, you’ll be able to get a better understanding and bird’s-eye view of what’s happening in the entire organisation. All the LRS tools also become equipped with powerful dashboards and data tools.

Webhook Integrations

Finally, webhooks are a type of integration that can sometimes prove handy. The fundamental idea is that a webhook notifies you when something happens in a system, for which you can then create an automated response. In the context of learning technology integrations, there can be several use cases. For instance, whenever a learner does something in App 1, do something in App 2. Or, as a group of learners have finished a learning experience, send an automatic report to their line manager.

Webhooks are a good way of integrating certain things and automating workflows. When running multiple systems and platforms, it’s easy to get lost in the administrative work. Designing these types of integrations and reactions in a smart way enables you to decrease that workload.

Final words

Overall, the future of learning is integrated. The different tools we use have to talk to each other. Otherwise, it all quickly becomes inefficient and redundant. Learning technology integrations are an important thing to consider whenever bringing new technology into the fold. Good integrations and automation protocols can significantly reduce the administrative workload that goes into managing learning tools or other systems.

5 Tips for Designing Great Job Aids

As the 70:20:10 theory implies, a lot of learning in organisations happens outside the boundaries of formal training. While we often cater to the formal side, there’s a lot of other important use cases for learning. With the current speed of change in business, being able to up-skill people ahead of time becomes more unrealistic. Often, we just have to start doing faster, and hope that it goes well. But the inability to train people beforehand doesn’t mean we have to forgo training altogether. Job aids, for instance, are a great way of providing learning resources on the job. Here’s what you should take into account when designing them.

1. Simplify radically

One of the key characteristics of job aids is that employees engage with them within the workflow. To minimise disruptions to that workflow, we need to minimise the time spent querying information. Therefore, similar to the logic of good storytelling, job aids should be as simple as possible. Don’t circle around the topic, but dive right in. This is not a medium to display every single bit of knowledge either, but rather to provide concise information to help the employee with a highly specific task. Everything that goes beyond that or doesn’t support that goal is excess clutter, and should be removed.

While simplifying radically enables employees to find the information faster, it also eliminates the need to spend time on making judgement calls on what information is relevant. Therefore, they’re able to get back to peak performance faster.

2. Avoid excessive use of interactivity

In the general realm of digital learning, we often talk about the importance of interactivity. While interactivity is vital in creating engagement around the learning content, with job aids, it rarely serves a purpose. As the goal is to consume nuggets of information as rapidly as possible, any interactive elements, such as questions sets, exercises and the like just get in the way.

Instead, simplify the content also in this regard. Often the simpler the better. We should always choose content types based on their fit for purpose and ability to convey the information. Videos might be the best options for some material, whereas simple text and images might work for some.

3. Make it searchable

In most cases, these type of performance support resources are accessed via some kind of system. Accessibility is a big consideration in designing effective job aids. You can design great resources, but if we bury them inside a complex, layered LMS system, finding them might become too much of a burden. If we don’t provide employees with a seamless way of making queries and finding the right material from the library, they’ll quickly default back to Google and Youtube.

Therefore, it’s important to first of all make the content searchable. The nature of job aids entails that there’s going to be quite a lot of them. To enable employees to find the relevant stuff fast, you do need a search function. While identifying the right content is important, it might also be beneficial to be able to search for e.g. keywords within a piece of content, to locate the relevant information faster. If you’re doing videos, providing navigation buttons inside the video might make sense.

4. Make the user experience simple

As mentioned, employees often access job aids via a platform, tool or a system of some sorts. Whatever the system is, it’s important that the user experience is fluid, natural and easy to use. The experience must be intuitive, meaning that employees don’t have to spend time on learning how to use the system. The less clutter there is, the better.

Generally, performance support tools or job aid portals contain a much more limited set of features compared to conventional learning tools. If you’re implementing one, it’s a good idea to review out-of-the-box or “popular” features, and consider whether they’re actually necessary for this particular use case.

5. Understand the users’ context

Finally, it’s incredibly important to understand how the employees actually engage with tools like these. Often, but not always, these types of job aids tend to be consumed on the mobile. If that’s the case, you’ll want to focus on that as your primary medium, and employe best practices for mobile learning design. If the use case is more corporate office, you might see more desktop use, and thus have more “real estate” to play with.

Going beyond devices, it’s also important to understand the use situations, i.e. the learning opportunities in the workflow, in more detail. E.g. if employees are using job aid videos on a noisy factory floor, they might not be able to hear the sounds of videos. Thus, it may be necessary to provide subtitles and ensure that the information is conveyed even without narration.

Final words

Across industries, we are seeing a trend of looking beyond the conventional formal training when considering the corporate “learning mix”. Well-designed job aids are a great way of providing performance support and rapid learning within the workflow and on-the-job. Not only does this enable people to maintain better productivity, it may also make sense for learning too, as all learning gets put into practice right away, which tends to increase retention. If you’re looking into job aids, and think you may need help in designing them or implementing proper tools for them, we might be able to help. Just drop us a note here.

Storytelling in Corporate Learning – 3 Impactful Uses

In a world full of noise, you won’t get yourself heard without a story. Telling stories has become incredibly important. Whereas the world is full of information, facts and data, we can only process a very limited quantity of it. To get ourselves heard, we need to connect emotionally to our audience and present compelling narratives. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to win people over and evoke change with facts. In the realm of workplace learning, we first need to get people to listen, then to remember, and finally to act. Therefore, we need stories too. Here are three impactful uses for storytelling in corporate learning.

1. Increase the retention of learning content

People don’t really remember facts, but they do remember stories. To understand this, look no further than the award-winning advertisements and campaigns of recent years. Companies have stopped talking about their products and services, or even themselves. Rather, they tell stories about their values and people. And people do end up buying, because they remember those stories.

Storytelling in corporate learning works in a similar fashion. Learning retention is one of the common problems with learning initiatives. We tend to pack our learning content with data and facts, but end up doing a disservice to our learners. Instead, we should focus on telling stories. Stories that portray e.g. our customers, or the people in the organisation. This puts a humanising touch to the learning experience, whether it’s online or offline.

Furthermore, good storytelling practices also force us to focus on what matters. Good stories cannot be packed with information. Every point that is less than 100% relevant to the story dilutes its impact. Therefore, when building stories, the aim is to go as bare-bones as possible, to only include the most relevant facts. From a learning point of view, this helps the learners to get the necessary information quickly and avoid the excess clutter. Often, less is more when it comes to corporate learning.

2. Communicate the ‘why’ of new learning initiatives

The practice of workplace learning is undergoing big shifts. Most companies are looking for ways to digitalise learning and implement new learning technologies in the workplace. With shifts like these, we are often introducing new ways of working and doing things. Yet, we don’t always communicate it very well.

When undergoing digital transformation, most companies tend to focus on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the change. What is going the be the new way? How are going to do it? The problem is, that is not interesting, and people won’t listen. Instead, we should put a heavy emphasis on the ‘why’. People may not even agree with the ‘what’ or the ‘how’, but if you’re good in communicating the ‘why’, they are much more likely to rally behind your cause. Connect with the audience, and communicate shared values, and you’ll get them on board. Good storytelling in corporate learning focuses on and starts from the ‘why’.

3. Get people to put knowledge into action

Retention is not the only challenge in corporate learning, perhaps not even the biggest one. In fact, the biggest challenge is often behavioural change. Once we get the knowledge installed in the learners’ minds, the question becomes whether they’ll actually put it into practice. Without adequate support, they statistically won’t, and learning transfer will remain low. Yet, telling stories could help in this regard too.

Good storytelling in corporate learning gets people to put the learnt into practice, to do it. By featuring stories of people who have implemented particular knowledge or skills at their work, we create a path for others to follow. Good stories can be testimonials, but they can also be more concrete, practical how-to examples. Once learners see other people in similar jobs and contexts telling their stories of success, or even failure, they are much more likely to take the leap and do it themselves.

Final words

Telling stories is more and more important, even in corporate learning. It enables us to get people on board, have them listen and remember, as well as put the learnt into practice. A storytelling mindset also helps learning professionals focus on what’s important: communicating ‘why’ and cutting out unnecessary information that would only overload the learners. If you need help in building better storytelling in your corporate learning, we may be able to help. Just drop us a note here.