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.

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.

Navigation Design in Digital Learning – 3 Approaches

Navigation design in digital learning

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

Alignment in corporate learning

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

Nudges in Corporate Learning

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.

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.