Knowledge Assessment in Corporate Learning – 5 Methods

Knowledge Assessment in Corporate Learning

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.

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5 Tips for Designing Great Job Aids

Designing Great Job Aids

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.

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Storytelling in Corporate Learning – 3 Impactful Uses

Storytelling in Corporate Learning

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.

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Gamified Instructor-led Training – 4 Simple Ideas

Gamified Instructor-led Training Ideas

Gamified Instructor-led Training – 4 Simple ideas

We often see gamification as a tool to enhance online learning, but the potential doesn’t end there. In fact, we can use a lot of the same techniques and methods to engage learners in the classroom too. Whereas very basic gamification elements may be a bit dull, deeper and more advanced things can really take the face-to-face experience to the next level. To enable that, here are 4 simple ideas for gamified instructor-led training. Take a look!

Challenge your learners

Challenges are a great way of gamifying the learning experience. Instead of keeping the session one-sided, have the learners participate actively by prompting them with different tasks. This gets them to apply the things they’ve just learned, increasing learning retention. Challenges can also utilise elements of friendly competition, whether completed in teams or individually. This provides an added level of engagement and excitement.

The advantage of using this type of gamification in instructor-led training comes from the ease of use. Challenges can be set beforehand, reducing the time spent on administering them in the classroom. Similarly, the trainer will receive real time information of the participants’ performance.

Get out of the classroom for more activity

But gamified instructor-led training doesn’t have to stick to the boundaries of the classroom. Getting out of the classroom probably makes things even more active. One good example of that is activities in the form of scavenger hunts. The trainer can create a gameboard for the players to play on, which can be e.g. a live map or a static image of the office premises. Players can hunt down on clues on this map, while completing tasks and challenges as a team or individually. Furthermore, the trainer in charge can monitor each participant’s progress and provide real-time direction and feedback if necessary.

While methods like this tend to be more effective in getting subject matter across, thanks to their active nature, there are other benefits too. For instance, these activities tend to also be great team-building moments, if played as a team.

Real-time exercises

While we discussed different types of challenges, more simpler exercises are also a meaningful way of gamified instructor-led training. And doing that in real-time can be a lot of fun. For instance, trainers can use different tools to ask questions and push exercises, and display people’s answers in real time. This again helps to spark some friendly competition, especially if you’re keeping score.

However, real-time exercises are also helpful to the learners. Learners get instant feedback, and a sense of achievement and progress as they complete exercises correctly. Furthermore, they can monitor their own learning, also in comparison to other people. Thus, they’ll be able to notice early on if they are not keeping up.

Accelerated feedback cycles and instant rewards

Finally, while not a specific technique, it’s important to talk about the importance of rapid feedback. Like mentioned above, the accelerated feedback cycles that gamified instructor-led training tends to bring along benefit all parties involved. This can also improve the quality of feedback. As trainers push exercises through the participants’ mobile devices, they get all the information in real-time. Thus, the trainers are able to provide more to-the-point and personalised feedback.

While not monetary, this acts as instant rewards to the learners. Often the fact that one notices progress and keeps is able to overcome challenges is a good source of learning motivation on its own.

Final words

Overall, there’s a lot that you can do when it comes to gamifying the classroom experience. Gamified instructor-led training can ease the cognitive overload, activate the learners, increase engagement and motivate people to continue. While these are just a few methods that one can accomplish with several tools, they do provide a much needed toolbox update for trainers and learning designers. If you’re looking to gamify offline or online learning experiences, drop us a note. We are happy to share some experiences and insights in that space.

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How to Humanise Online Learning?

How to humanise online learning?

How to Humanise Online Learning?

One of the common pain points of digital learning is its passivity. One of the reasons learners often cite for unwillingness to engage is the lack of the human factor. Learning by oneself in an online environment is not necessarily very fun. While techniques like gamification can help to spark interest and keep motivation high, it might not be enough. However, you could tackle a lot of this problematic passivity already at the design phase. By focusing on making learning more active and human, one can go long way. Therefore, here are a few different tips for humanising online learning.

Humanise online learning with peer interactivity

One of the first contributors to the human factor is peer interaction. When digitalising learning, it’s easy to forget to utilise all three levels of interactivity. While peer-to-peer interaction occurs naturally in conventional classroom learning, it doesn’t online unless you create the infrastructure for it. So, when humanising online learning, it’s critical to enable learners to interact with each other.

The interactions can take many formats. Online discussions or internal social media channels are a good way of getting started. Chats and video rooms can also help to connect remote teams and individuals to each other. Whatever the social framework, usually a common rule applies: it’s not easy to get people to interact without any kind of guidance. Therefore, it’s a good idea to prompt and facilitate the discussions, and design them to be a part of the material.

Make it about the people, share stories

Humans are wired to retain, respond and relate to stories. However, training content often tends to stick to the facts and figures. The content moves on an abstract level, often with little explicit relation to the jobs or people in question. This doesn’t do wonders for learning results, nor is it particularly human.

One way of humanising online learning is to shift focus away from the content to stories. Less is more is a good approach when it comes to data and factual information. When you go less on that front, you’ll create room for more storytelling. Now, you can plan the stories meticulously like your marketing department might do. But it could work to also let your people share their stories. A personal testimonial or a story of a use case of the things that is being learnt is likely much more valuable than some facts that end up forgotten anyway.

Experiment with adaptive or personalised learning

Another way of making online learning a more human experience is to personalise it. Personalised learning is about finding out the learner’s interests, needs, requirements and ways to add value, and providing resources catering to them. A one-size fits all passive online learning course is about the least human experience there can be. Personalising the experience, tailoring it to the learner, can take some of that feeling away.

Adaptive learning could also accomplish similar goals. The fundamental idea of adaptive learning is slightly similar to personalisation. The learning content and its sequence doesn’t resemble a linear path, but rather a spider’s web. Based on performance on previous parts and the learners perceived knowledge and skill levels, you direct them to different bits of the material. Similar to before, learners feel that you’ve designed the learning for them, instead of a profile of averages.

Provide comprehensive and rapid support

Finally, there’s often a lot of human touch missing from getting help with one’s learning. In a lot of cases, learners tend to get left alone with the courses and programs they are completing. If they encounter a problem, they are supposed to solve it on their own. If they have questions, they might be able to ask somewhere, but getting a response might take a long time. All of this causes interruptions to the learning process.

Therefore, when humanising online learning, it’s important not to forget the learning support either. Give your learners ways of reaching out to the trainers or admins. Whether it’s usability issues or questions about the content, make it easy to contact the relevant people and ask for help. Having access to a safety network of this kind can help to alleviate a lot of the stigma when it comes to online learning.

Final words

Overall, as organisations make the transition towards online learning, it’s important not to forget the human factor. Passive consumption of online content gets too tedious fast, and learners disengage. Humanising the learning experience can keep them engaged, and feeling that they’re not just the victims of a cost-cutting exercise. Hopefully these tips prove helpful. In case you need help in making online learning more human, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help.

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Asynchronous Learning at the Workplace – Pros & Cons

Asynchronus Learning at Workplace

Asynchronous Learning at the Workplace – Pros & Cons

As many organisations digitalise their training, they often take the asynchronous route, lifting away the constraints on time and place. In asynchronous learning, learners can progress at their own time and pace. While the approach is efficient, there are still certain limiting factors and problems to solve. Therefore, we put together the pros and cons related to the method.

Asynchronous learning: the pros

Naturally, there’s a lot of upside to the method. If there wasn’t, it wouldn’t probably be as popular. Here are some of the advantages we see in using the time-independent learning method.

Flexibility. The method is highly flexible, enabling learners to engage anytime, anywhere, as long as they have a network connection. This helps tremendously in finding time for learning, as you don’t have to coordinate multiple schedules.

Learner-centred. The method puts the learner at the centre and gives him/her the control. It’s about one’s individual progress and people can go through the content as many times as they feel needed. This may help to balance out differences in learner skill levels as well as learning speeds.

Efficient. Asynchronous learning tends to require significantly less resources than its counterpart. As learners are engaging through digital mediums, they don’t need to travel to come together for a training session. This is especially helpful for organisations with a dispersed workforce.

Potential for personalisation. The method leaves room for a lot of personalisation. While it’s hard to personalise in a classroom, with this method learners can be assigned materials tailored to them. Even adaptive learning is possible, enabling learners to craft their learning journey as they progress through.

Asynchronous learning: the cons

However, there are downsides to this method of learning as well, just like to any other method. Here are a few considerations you should keep in mind when doing asynchronous learning. We’ll also list a few suggestions to tackle them.

Lack of social interaction. Conventionally, one of the big challenges has been the lack of social interaction. Fundamentally, learning is a social process, and eliminating peer-to-peer and instructor interaction may get some learners feeling isolated. However, nowadays more and more social learning platforms are emerging, which may solve some of the problems.

Absence of instant feedback. Another aspect where the asynchronous model may be lacking is feedback. Whereas in classroom a learner would get constant feedback, both direct and indirect, from the instructor and peers, this doesn’t always materialise in digital learning environments. However, the aforementioned social learning tools may help. Also, feedback is question of learning design. It takes a bit of time to design comprehensive flows of instant feedback throughout the material, but it’s well worth the effort!

Requires self-regulated learning skills. One of the primary challenges in asynchronous learning is getting people to commit to learning. Self-paced learning requires motivation and engagement, both of which you will likely need to carefully facilitate. However, a portion of people may not have the capabilities to manage their own learning. Therefore, we should always clearly communicate things like workload required, and offer tips and support to the learners in case they face challenges.

Final thoughts

Overall, asynchronous learning provides great possibilities thanks to its flexibility and efficiency. However, to ensure that everyone has ample opportunities for learning, we should build adequate support frameworks to make sure no-one falls off the bandwagon. Furthermore, if we can find meaningful ways of adding more social interaction, personal touchpoints and incorporate feedback on the programs, we’ll be able to significantly improve the offering. If you need help in improving your own asynchronous learning programs, feel free to drop us a note. We’d be happy to share some experiences.

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Data-driven Learning Design – How to Get Started?

Data-driven Learning Design

Getting Started With Data-driven Learning Design

As a whole, the L&D industry hasn’t always been doing a terribly good job when it comes to designing learning. However, we have started to recognise that one-size-fits-all activities are probably not the way to go, and that we should design learning for the people doing the actual jobs, not for the company HR department. Fundamentally, designing better learning is about knowing your learners. In that aspect, the overall capabilities of the industry have developed tremendously over the past few years (with things like xAPI etc). However, as we start to accumulate more data and information, it’s important to know how to use it well. Thus, we decided to look at data-driven learning design, how to get started and the different types of data you can use in design decisions. We’ll divide this article into two, resembling an initial- and a subsequent round of design.

Understanding who you are designing for

At the start of any design process, you should always spend time understanding the problem and the “customers”. In corporate learning, this discovery is equally important, yet something that many organisations skip almost entirely. Here’s where data-driven learning design approaches already come in handy, albeit not perhaps in the way you expect.

Since it’s your people and employees you are designing for, you have an abundance of data available to you. However, this data is not necessarily siloed within the L&D’s systems or records. Rather, you might have to look for it in other places. For instance, demographic data might sit in an HR system. Assignment and task related data might sit in a performance management system. These kinds of data can help you create rough archetypes, or “personas” of your learners, i.e. who they are, what they do etc.

However, if we leave it there, we might still miss the mark. At the initial design stage, we should also explore how our learners can engage with the learning content at the workplace. As we don’t want to inconvenience them, it’s important to get to know the workflows and they ways we could instil learning into them. Now this a part of data-driven learning design that you don’t have an easy tool or a dashboard for. Rather, you have to get out there, start observing and exploring, and collect qualitative data. Different service design methods prove quite effective in this regard.

Understanding how learners engage with the content

Unfortunately, once you’ve put a learning activity together, your job doesn’t end there. Although the initial time spent on learning design does pay off, it’s still unlikely that everything works perfectly. Maybe there are pieces of content that the learners don’t engage with. Maybe they engage in ways different to what you initially thought. Whatever the actual usage and engagement behaviour is, it’s our job to find out.

To start out, tools like web analytics can provide handy insights into e.g. engagement times, devices used and geographical locations. Then, more specific tools for learning content analytics can tell us stories about how the content is being consumed. Finally, it’s tools like xAPI that enable us to practically follow the learners’ journeys through the material, tracking and seeing every interaction along the way.

Once we know what’s not working, we can fix it. Maybe we need to cater to different device sets than initially thought. Maybe the video we produced doesn’t actually engage the learners. Or perhaps the sequencing of learning activities seems to be wrong, as the data might show they jump between sections rather than following a linear path. Regardless of what it is, smart data-driven learning design enables us to get information, understand its magnitude, and make design decisions accordingly. Remarkable results are not produced in one iteration.

Final thoughts

If we want to improve as an industry, L&D has to start working with data to be able to produce better outcomes. It’s easy to view data-driven learning design as something daunting and terrifying, but it’s really not. Sure, we need to adjust our mentality a bit. We need to become more comfortable with “betas” and iterations, and the fact that we may not always get it right the first time. But once we get past that, once we learn that, there should be a great future ahead. And if you’re not entirely comfortable with all this just yet, we are happy to hold your hand. Just contact us here.

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Problem-based Learning as a Tool for Innovation

Problem-based learning

Problem-based Learning as a Tool for Innovation

One of the challenges in corporate learning is that activities tend to be distant from the business itself. Furthermore, formal programs tend to be somewhat inflexible, focusing too much on content rather than context. An interesting approach to tackle these problems and a handful of more could be found in problem-based learning. While certainly not applicable to every kind of training topic, problem-based learning can help to enhance collaboration, teamwork and culture. More importantly, the method can also become a method of innovation within the organisation. Here’s the way we see it:

What’s problem-based learning all about?

As the name might give away, problem-based learning is centred around solving problems. The method is increasingly popular in leading universities around the globe. Business school case work can be a good example of the method. The problems are open-ended, meaning there are no predefined right answers or solutions. Furthermore, the subject matter in question only plays a minor part in the learning. The learners will naturally develop their capabilities around different skills like teamwork, collaboration and communication. However, for companies, this provides a tool for learning while solving real business problems.

The method as a tool for corporate innovation

In addition to having people learn to collaborate better, problem-based learning methods could have a significant value-adding offer to corporates. Having people work on real business problems, and organising it in a smart way could help to source ideas, insights, process innovation and solutions from within the organisation. Furthermore, it could help to expose people the different parts of the organisational value chain, and hence have them understand the business in more holistic terms.

How to do it in practice?

Here’s a list of things and processes we would like to install into a corporate problem-based learning program.

  • Form groups of diverse individuals. Mix participant groups from different business units, departments or even locations. To come up with innovative solutions, we must avoid tunnel vision.
  • Introduce the learners to a real business problem. If needed, have a person working on the topic brief the participants. However, remember to keep it a blank slate. Don’t put boundaries in place.
  • Ask people to come with solutions to the problem! However, as business problems are complex, give the participants adequate time to come up with novel solutions. Also, it’s good to have learners present the ideas to the heads of the business.

In general, the more diverse groups you can assemble, the better. If you’re trying to solve an operations problem with people just from operations, don’t expect great results. You may get small improvements, but radical innovation rarely happens that way. On the other hand, it’s easier for people with little prior knowledge to question and re-evaluate the existing practices.

In terms of facilitation, a blended learning approach may work best in problem-based learning. It’s a good idea for the participants to meet in and organise around physical workshops. But digital mediums and social learning tools can be helpful in keeping the collaboration going in between the workshops. For instance, a collaborative platform can enable participants to share ideas, insights and thoughts to the group immediately, and thus “record” them.

Final thoughts

Overall, problem-based learning can provide an effective tool for not only learning, but also to source innovative solutions to everyday business problems. As a learning experience, the method is highly collaborative, and thus touches on the practical aspects of communication, teamwork, leadership, project management etc. However, the best thing about it might just be that it doesn’t really feel like learning. Instead of mindlessly going through courses, your employees can actually contribute to the business whiled developing themselves. Could just be a much more fun way of doing (at least some of the) corporate learning!

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4 Service Design Methods for L&D Professionals

Service Design Tools for L&D Professionals

4 Service Design Methods for L&D Professionals

The nature of workplace learning is undergoing a shift. Organisations are starting to recognise that simply delivering conceptual knowledge doesn’t necessarily yield results. Rather, the function of the L&D should be to facilitate performance by solving business challenges and helping the people succeed in their jobs. And as we go more and more into learning in the workflow, and integrate learning activities to our daily jobs, we need to update our toolbox as well. Packaging information with instructional design techniques is no longer enough. If we want to truly make an impact on performance, we need to get much deeper into it. And that’s where different service design methods, such as design thinking, may come in handy. Here are 4 service design tools for L&D and how you can use them in practice.

1. Service Safaris

Service safaris are explorations. Participants are asked to go out and explore examples of both good and bad services. You can narrow down the field of services to e.g. the same sector as the organisation, or it can be an open field. This is an easy way to put the participants in the shoes of the end-users, and get to experience things from their viewpoint.

In L&D, this service design method can be similarly handy. You can set people out to learn about different kinds of learning experiences, what works and what doesn’t. This first of all helps you define what are the critical elements of a good learning experience overall and in a particular context. Secondly, this also opens you up for small scale learning innovations. As you’ll experience the problems of the end-users first-hand, you are much better positioned to come up with novel solutions to solve them!

2. Shadowing

As a service design method, shadowing involves the designers immersing themselves in the lives of the customers (or end-users). The aim is to observe behaviours, practices and experiences, without being obtrusive. Of course, documentation is important, for which text, photos or video can be used. Immersing oneself in the real environment enables the designer to document problems that others may not recognise. Furthermore, spending time “at the front line” is often the only way to develop a deep understanding on how things operate.

This service design method provides L&D another avenue to understanding the workflows of the learners, and thus gaining insights on how to provide learning opportunities within them. This is especially helpful when designing performance support resources and delivery.

3. Contextual Interviews

Contextual interviews are a good method of collecting qualitative, user-driven information. The interviews always take place in the environment or context of the service or process in question. This helps to provoke more in-depth discussion, compared to e.g. conventional focus groups. As the interview happens “on the spot”, the interviewees are also more likely to remember specific details. People may also be more comfortable in communicating their own thoughts when they are in a familiar environment. It’s often beneficial to document these interviews with audio or video.

When it comes to service design for L&D, contextual interviews work well in understanding how employees interact with learning, whether it’s in the workflow or as a separate activity. These kinds of qualitative insights can be used to validate quantitative data as well.

4. Co-creation

Co-creation, in its fundamental, is at the core of the whole service design philosophy. It’s about involving different groups of stakeholders and collaboratively examining and innovating an experience. However, organisations should be wary of challenges related to participants’ fears of e.g. speaking up or disagreeing with a boss. Unless these kind of challenges are overcome, co-creation will only have limited efficacy. In general, co-creative approaches tend to bring a variety of benefits, e.g. increased ownership of the concepts created.

In L&D, this service design tool can be used in a number of ways. For instance, you can use it to develop strategy, new work practices or training needs analysis. Additionally, co-creative methods can extend all the way to the execution as well. For instance, smart use of user-generated content at the development phase can help to alleviate a lot of the output pressure of the L&D team.

Final words

Overall, service design methods can prove very beneficial to any modern L&D practitioner. They enable one to identify real problems and points-of-need, design more effective learning experiences and support performance in ways that conventional instructional design cannot. In the end, the better L&D can understand its business, people and their problems, the better learning impact it can deliver. If you’d like to explore designing learning in a new way, but feel you may need additional support, feel free to reach out to us. We can help you implement service design principles within your L&D, or demonstrate the effectiveness of these methods in practice.

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3 Quick Tips for Improving Learning Transfer

Learning transfer

3 Quick Tips for Improving Learning Transfer

One of the biggest challenges in corporate learning is not the acquisition or retention of knowledge, but learning transfer. Employees might learn the conceptual knowledge and take in information, but often it’s the application phase where we fall short. You see, learning things is easy (relatively speaking!). However, when trying to apply to learning, you may run into barriers like lack of practice or support, organisational culture, resistance to change, unfitting operational practices etc. Naturally, many of these problems will be outside of the immediate purview of learning and development. However, smart learning design choices enable us to tackle some of these problems already before they emerge.

Thus, here are 3 tips for improving learning transfer:

1. Focus more on practical learning

A lot of corporate learning is not very practical. Courses and programs are often heavy on rather abstract concepts and knowledge. In such cases, the learners are required to bridge the gap between the abstract and the real life themselves. Often, that may be asking too much. It’s not that people are not capable, it’s just that they do have a lot of other things occupying their mind. Hence an overload of conceptual, abstract knowledge often goes to deaf ears.

So, if you want to improve learning transfer, focus on the practical. Focus on how to make the employees succeed at their jobs. And be specific. The learning should put more emphasis on “here’s how you can do things” rather than “here’s what you need to know”. Use learning mediums that serve the purpose. Visual elements may help to illustrate how things work in real life.

2. Provide adequate practice opportunities

Another area where we in corporate learning could do better is giving opportunities to practice. People need to be confident in their ability before they dare to do things in a new way. Hence it’s important that we provide them with a safe environment to practice, make mistakes and fail during our learning programs. Naturally, there are several ways you could do that. If you’re planning to do fully online training, simulations can be a big help in ensuring learning transfer. On the other hand, if you’re running blended learning programs, this might be a good use of the expensive and intensive face-to-face time!

3. Understand the learners’ context

Finally, the biggest hurdle of learning transfer is related to the learners’ context. Even before you start putting together learning content or activities, you should spend time figuring out the work, tasks, routines, responsibilities and environment of the end-users (learners!). To make learning transfer possible, you should identify if any of these might conflict with the objectives of the learning you’re looking to do. On paper, doing something in a particular way may seem feasible, but in practice it might be impossible. Therefore it’s important to know the practical environment and setting – the context – of the learners. Otherwise, you’ll end up producing a lot of learning that can never really be applied.

Final words

Learning transfer is not always easy. However, good design methods, time spent on discovery and focus on practical things can help a lot. Of course, you should never forget the importance of relevance in corporate learning. Furthermore, it’s also important to provide a support infrastructure that acts as a safety net for the learners. As we solve these kind of problems, we are gradually getting closer to learning with real impact. After all, if people don’t apply the knowledge, our work has been meaningless.

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