How to Make Learning Stick through AGES

Make learning stick with AGES model

How to Make Learning Stick through AGES

Learning retention occasionally poses a challenge for L&D professionals. While we mostly manage to focus on what’s important, it’s sometimes too easy to forgo evidence-based practices in the favour of creating something glossy and glittery. Yet, no matter how much of a wow-factor your learning program comes with, it doesn’t matter at all if the learners don’t acquire and retain the learning. To stay focused on the things that really matter, the AGES model provides a good framework for looking at learning design.

The AGES model in a nutshell

While the field of neuroscience in learning is still probably in its infancy, there are a few key things scientists have already helped us to discover. One of primary interest relates to how the brain works when it comes to learning. Learning requires a process called hippocampal activation, which takes place as an experience engages and activates the hippocampus region of the brain. The better the activation, the more fruitful the learning.

As we’ve learned about the importance of hippocampal activation, the questions has become how to achieve that. And that’s where the AGES model comes in. AGES stands for attention, generation, emotion and spacing, each of which are of critical importance in making learning stick.

Now, let’s look at each of these in a bit more detail.

Attention

Even without the AGES model, you’d probably know that attention is where all of it starts. If you fail to get your learners’ attention, whatever happens after is irrelevant. The more learners are able to focus, the more they can learn. But our knowledge of attention is not limited to just that.

Firstly, we know that the attention span of humans is limited. While there’s a lot of noise going around and loosely grounded guesses being presented, the research community’s consensus seems to be that the brain can sustain focus for around 20 minutes at a time. After that, it needs to rest and reactivate. Therefore, you should give your learners a break or switch to a less cognitively loading activity every 20 minutes to give the brain some time to recharge.

Generation

Once you’ve got your learners’ attention, you need to start generation. Generation is the process of learners connecting the learning to their existing knowledge. This process helps to form a rich network of neural links in the brain and hence help learning stick.

Therefore, instead of making learners passive recipients of information, we should plan a more active role for them. Corporate learning programs can be much more effective if we provide opportunities for generation. For instance, teaching others helps to form one’s own understanding. Creating content about the learning topic, e.g. reflections, commentary etc. is a good way to generate too.

Emotion

Next, the third piece in the AGES model is emotion and its relevance to learning is quite straightforward. Emotional moments tend to stick with us. This is because emotional moments trigger hippocampal activation.

However, all emotions are not necessarily good for learning. If you trigger negative emotions by e.g. accidentally activating previous bad memories, learners may have a hard time focusing on the content, as they contemplate over their memories. Therefore, when using emotional learning techniques, try to keep it primarily positive!

Spacing

Finally, one of the most important notions of the AGES model is that of spacing learning. The human brain is only able to process a very limited amount of information at a time. Too much information at once causes cognitive loading, which has an adverse effect on learning. To keep the cognitive load at a viable level, learning activities should be spread out over time, instead of trying to fit everything into a single session.

Especially if you’re already doing digital learning, there’s little reason to not space your learning. And if you’re still relying primarily on face to face instruction, creating spacing even within sessions seems to help. And in case you’d like to explore digital opportunities in learning and making it effective, we’re happy to help. Just drop us a note here.

4 Tips for Training Contingent Workforce

Training contingent workforce

4 Tips for Training Contingent Workforce

The modern economy is increasingly made up of gig workers. Many industries, such as retail and other labour-intensive service businesses are using increased amounts of temporary workers. This helps to smooth out spikes and drops in demand, and may keep the organisation itself more lean. However, temporary workers sometimes prove to be a headache for L&D professionals charged with figuring out how to transfer them the essential knowledge to do the job. Therefore, we put together a quick list of tips on training contingent workforce. Let’s check it out!

When training gig workers, time is of the essence

The first rule of training the contingent workforce is that everyone’s always short on time. If you employ temporary help, chances are that your permanent staff have got their hands full already. Furthermore, gig workers may often join a company for just a few weeks or months, which hardly gives them a lot of time to go through an extensive learning process.

Therefore, time is of the essence. Starting early helps. If your new temporary employees are able to access and complete e.g. their mandatory training (compliance, SOPs, safety, hygiene, etc. depending on your industry) beforehand, you’ll greatly reduce the time it takes them to get working. However, while it makes sense to go through the mandatory and perhaps regulatory programs beforehand, the actual learning for the job may be better done on-the-job.

Use on-the-job learning to build capability through practice

As we move onto more specific skills and work tasks, it stops making sense to try train everything beforehand. Too much training isolated from practice makes one an easy suspect to the forgetting curve. Being able practice things in an authentic environment greatly reinforces retention. It also helps to connect often abstract task and process descriptions to the real world.

Therefore, instead of trying to train everything beforehand, your strategy for training contingent workforce should perhaps leverage on on-the-job learning. Provide your gig workers with performance support resources, interactive manuals and how-to nuggets. In this kind of case, just-in-time learning makes much more sense than just-in-case.

Provide a support platform

However, for when those just-in-case situations occur, it’s good to have systems in place too. There’s a lot of unexpected situations that may arise in any given job that you can’t really account for in conventional training. But you can always be prepared regardless. For those rare moments of need, it’s good to have your support system ready.

When encountering problems they can’t solve based on their experience and training you’ve given them so far, gig workers could use that support system to help themselves. For instance, this might take the form of a Q&A bank, where staff can search for answers to uncommon situations. It may also be a helpline, or a support forum, or a live chat environment to another colleague. In its most analog form, it would be pointing out a person that the gig worker can go to with problems. Whatever the degree of sophistication, the idea is to provide a platform to take care of the needs that normal performance support or prior training can’t cover.

Remember to keep it inclusive

While inclusivity in learning was our main topic last week, it has relevance in this context as well. When training gig workers, there are a few inclusivity factors to consider.

First, you’ll want to make sure that the language and communication you use fits their level of experience and exposure. Temporary workers may not be familiar with all industry terms, and even less likely to understand your corporate lingo and cultural artefacts. Furthermore, when it comes to practical skills and experience, the basis for learning for temporary staff may be wildly different from that of your permanent employees. For instance, whereas your permanent staff may be formally educated in the industry, the temporary staff may not be. As such, it’s important to deliver information and learning in a way that takes into account their existing skill levels and potential lack of prior exposure to the industry or tasks at hand.

Final words

While the contingent workforce often presents a headache to learning organisations, it doesn’t need to. There’s a lot that organisations can do with relative ease to streamline the training and onboarding process of their gig workers. A good learning design process helps you to get clarity on the needs of the modern workers and provide a platform for success. If you think you need help in improving your design process, do drop us a note. We can help you design learning in a new way.

3 Tips for Designing More Inclusive Digital Learning

Steps towards more inclusive digital learning

3 Tips for Designing More Inclusive Digital Learning

As more and more people get into digital learning, the issues of inclusivity is raising its head. Catering to organisation-wide audiences means catering to a diverse group of learners – both in terms of capabilities and limitations. While inclusive and accessible design is an entire fields of its own, we thought it would be helpful to share some good practices. Therefore, here are 3 tips for designing more inclusive digital learning.

Empathy is a good starter

Just like in any design project, empathy is a good place to start when it comes to inclusivity too. So, polish that design thinking hat once again and seek to understand your learners and their constraints and limitations. A good empathetic process should uncover some of the limitations your employees may have when it comes to accessing and using digital learning. Furthermore, you’re also likely to uncover new realisations about the context of the users. Learners don’t consume learning in a vacuum, and therefore the context matters a lot. Situational limitations and restrictions may present a real barrier to inclusive digital learning if you don’t uncover them and design with them in mind.

Multimodality is often good idea

In many cases, one of the bigger issues in inclusive learning is the use of different modalities and mediums. For instance, some learning may be primarily audiovisual, whereas some may require reading extensive text-based material. Whatever the primary modality, it’s important to offer an alternative pathway and support system for those who can’t due to personal or contextual limitations use that modality. For instance, an employee with hearing impairment may not get much out of a training video – unless you use captions. On the other hand, someone with dyslexia may really struggle with large amounts of text.

Also, many work situations may limit the use of certain features of the learning experience, such as audio. For instance, a customer service employee may not be able to listen to audio without putting headphones on, which is something they wouldn’t do during the workday. Thus, it’s important to also understand the work situations and contexts that employees engage with learning in.

Use media and language in an inclusive way

Finally, the use of media and language presents an important consideration for designing inclusive eLearning. Often, the devil is in the details. Learning designers face the same issue as advertisers. The imagery and visuals you use should be representative of the population that consumes your services – in this case, your employees. Therefore, you should make sure that the learners are able to see themselves in the visuals you choose. Maintain a balance when it comes to attributes like gender and race, for instance.

Similarly, the language you use in the learning should be inclusive as well. Firstly, it should be comprehendible to people whose native language may not be the one they’re learning in. Secondly, the use of vocabulary should avoid biased and loaded expressions. But perhaps most importantly, the language choices should be ones that the audience can relate to. Ideally, the language should feel personal to the audience, and not just some corporate slang and compliance lingo. If you give your learners a chance to relate, you not only make your learning more inclusive, but also more effective.

3 Tips for Managing the Learning Design Process

Managing the learning design process

3 Tips for Managing the Learning Design Process

Learning design projects take many shapes and forms and organisations have a variety of different ways of managing them. Some use conventional approaches like ADDIE, some may use more agile methods. Some rely heavily on data, whereas some go all out on the service design playbook. Whatever your methodology, there are some common best practices that we have found to be of benefit in any situation. So, let’s take a look at 3 ways you can manage the learning design process better!

Spend time on the discovery phase

One of the challenges corporate L&D teams face is time. Teams may often be running backlogs with the business expecting to have its learning ready yesterday. In this kind of an environment, it’s easy to forget to invest enough time in one of the most crucial steps. That step is discovery. Discovery is all about validating and investigating the problem, and it starts right as someone makes a request for a new piece of learning. Instead of simply taking the request as it is, it’s the L&D professionals responsibility to really assess whether the issue is even a learning issue.

Furthermore, even if you have validated the issue, discovery doesn’t stop there. Further along the learning design process, you’ll want to invest time into investigating the problem space, and making sure that whatever you design is actually a functional and fitting solution. Often, problems are not learning or training problems and we mistakenly take them as such. If you’re trying to train your way out of a non-training problem, you won’t get much results. Therefore, it’s important to spend time discovering what the problems really are.

Seek feedback early

It’s nice to put out a beautiful product after you have tuned it to perfection. However, often we focus too much on building the perfect product that we actually fail to listen to the users. Once you’ve spent an enormous amount of time building something, you’ve become emotionally invested, and it’s more likely that you’ll just shrug off critical user feedback as “uneducated opinions”. While the users may not always be right in the absolute sense, they often are when it comes to their own context. For instance, a product might be good, but it might just not work for a particular user group.

To avoid getting over-invested, and to make sure you’re building a working solution, you should ask feedback often and early. Early feedback can help you rediscover the problem space and understand the potential user better. In most cases, you can ask for feedback with very raw prototypes. Early feedback collection also involves your user base as co-creators, and helps to set the stage towards what’s coming later. This may help to reduce change anxiety and help to adapt new ways of doing faster.

Avoid the sunk cost fallacy

Even with rigorous design approaches, we are bound to make mistakes. On the other hand, every learning project you put out has a shelf life too. Nothing is supposed to last forever. As L&D teams generally operate with limited resources, it’s important to use them effectively. In some cases, this can mean cutting the legacy program off life support or stopping a program even during the learning design process.

As learning is a highly contextual event, we can’t expect to be able to run same programs year after year. Eventually, subject matter and delivery methods become so out of date that it’s not simply worth it to invest into “fixing and fine tuning” anymore. At this point, it’s important for learning designers to know when to cut ties with the old. If you want to create new and design new things, you can’t have excess baggage slowing you down in the beginning. Furthermore, it’s also important to act when a project is not going in the desired direction. Content might be out of date even before launch, wrong delivery methods may have been chosen or a variety of other factors might negatively affect the outcomes. At some point, it’s just much better to start all over or forget it altogether than forcefully pushing through the existing course of planning.

Final words

While organisations manage their learning design process and operations very differently, it’s hard to dispute the benefits of a more learner-centric approaches. Investing adequate time into discovery, seeking feedback often and early, and avoiding throwing good money after bad are things that don’t cost much but can save you a lot of time and effort. Therefore, learning organisations should take note.

3 Ideas to Keep Learners Engaged during Work-From-Home

Ideas to Keep Learners Engaged

3 Ideas to Keep Learners Engaged during Work-From-Home

As the amount of work-from-home population still increases, learning leaders are facing a challenge. Engaging learners from far away is quite a bit more cumbersome than doing it on-site, especially if you had not planned in advance. While we’ve written on practices on engaging in synchronous learning and webinars, things get different when learning gets more self-paced. Therefore, we’ll take a look at three ideas to keep learners engaged. Whereas modern learning solutions help in doing that, you can utilise all of these even if you were caught off guard by the sudden increase in remote learners.

Reward recurring activity

Once you’ve got learners onto your digital learning environment, it’s important to keep them coming back. For that, you not only need useful and fresh content, but likely a bit of incentives too. Learning research shows that learning over a period of time produces a better effect than trying to cram everything on one sitting. Furthermore, the more encounters we have with a piece of information, the better our chances of learning. That’s the law of repetition!

Therefore, it makes sense to incentivise behaviour where learners activate themselves every day, rather than once a week for instance. This can be done in numerous ways. For example, a gamification concept called ‘streaks’ fits this use perfectly. To keep their streaks active, learners may need to complete an activity on a daily basis. At certain intervals, active streak holders can be rewarded based on their streak length and performance. While some learning tools may have this kind of functionality built-in, you can do a lot on shoestring too. You could for instance use forms for simple daily check-ins. This could also incorporate other elements at the same time, e.g. pulse checks or other surveys. Alternatively, you could configure your learning analytics dashboard to show recurring users and handle the rewards manually.

‘Pace it’ to keep learners engaged

To support the recurring activity behaviour above, you should also consider setting up the content in a different way to keep learners engaged. Conventionally, we like to think that open learning experiences are the most user-friendly. They enable learners to navigate freely and access all content at once, as they need it. However, in a situation where you might be resource strapped to keep producing new content, it might make sense to pace the existing experiences. Let’s call this limited progress. You’ll allow learners to only progress to a point during one setting. After completing everything in the current block, they’ll have to wait for the next experience to be unlocked.

Additionally, this helps you as a learning leader to manage your content needs better. It can also allow you some really agile content creation practices. More importantly though, it creates exclusivity for the learners. They’ll learn that they need to come back to get the learning they want to do. Coincidentally, it also helps to prevent too much screen time, which is a risk during work-from-home arrangements.

Organise into teams

Finally, another way to keep learners engaged is to organise them into teams. Teams can be arbitrary, or you could base them on existing organisational structure. The important thing is that you assign a learners a social construct to associate themselves with. This creates social presence. As a part of team, learners feel a shared responsibility to contributing to the teams goals. Therefore, it might be beneficial to even map the learning goals out as team goals. For instance, you could require all team members to complete an experience before anyone could progress further.

Teams also enable a host of friendly competition options, while providing a platform for socialising and support. You could pit teams against each other on some virtual learning challenges, and then reward accordingly. You could also assign unique tasks based on team composition. Having mixed teams, for instance, could provide for an opportune time for some problem-based learning.

Final word

As more and more people work from home for extended periods of time, learning engagement becomes very important. A good engagement strategy should be based on recurring activity, evidence-based learning practices and social presence. Modern learning tools and platforms help in managing a lot of it, but there’s a lot that agile learning leaders can do while working within their resource constraints. If you’d like to explore further ideas in this space, let us know. We are happy to share more ideas.

3 Virtual Learning Ideas for Social Connectivity

Virtual Learning Ideas for Social Connectivity

3 Virtual Learning Ideas for Social Connectivity

As the current work-from-home and social distancing measures force people out of the offices, we find ourselves in a new situation. While remote working has been around for a long time, the current scale is unprecedented. Coincidentally, over the past few months, we’ve started to unearth some of the psychological difficulties in prolonged remote work arrangements. One of such difficulties is related to human connection. Fundamentally, people are social animals, and taking social opportunities away can have adverse impact on mental wellbeing. Therefore, we came up with 3 different virtual learning ideas that increase social connectivity. Let’s take a look!

Try out user-generated content

User-generated content can be a big opportunity in times like these. This means giving your learners and users (i.e. employees) the ability to create and share learning content and resources. By creating learning for each other, they are engaging in a socially connecting activity already. However, it’s not just for the creator. It’s likely that the consumer of the learning content may feel an increased sense of social connectivity as well. As the content comes from a peer, it can be very relatable and empathetic of the challenges people face.

User-generated content can take the form of even formal courses, but it can be much more granular and low-key too. Think blogs, resources, “homemade” videos, how-to materials, virtual classrooms facilitated by the learners themselves. Sky is the limit when it comes to creating content nowadays, but it doesn’t mean that small couldn’t be successful. Additionally, by using your users smartly, you can alleviate some of the L&D team’s pressure and reinforce a learning culture in the organisation.

Experiment with virtual lunch & learns

Besides the lack of social connectivity, another deficiency of working from home can be lack of structure. At the office, working days may often be structured around a common schedule. Everyone goes to lunch together, people share a coffee break, etc. Virtual lunch & learns can be an opportunity to get two birds with one stone. Firstly, they can bring added structure by setting a recurring activity. Secondly, lunch can be a great time to reinforce social connectivity with casual talks and chats.

The learning part shouldn’t be too serious, but the focus should be on social connectivity. It’s important to keep it casual enough for people to let down their guard and connect. However, it could be a great opportunity to do some informal sharing, e.g. about what different people do in the organisation, how they cope with the current situation and so on. These kind of sessions require very little effort, just an online video training tool of some kind, or even consumer-grade social media apps.

Start running a virtual book club

While people spend an increased amount of time inside four walls, they also need meaningful non-work activities to help them unwind. Hopefully, not all of it would involve sitting in front of a screen either. By informally surveying our peers and colleagues, we found that people are reading more books when they are confined to their homes to balance out the screen time. This sounds like a ripe opportunity for a virtual book club!

In addition to social connectivity, book clubs can be an incredibly powerful empathetic learning experience. And the core of the learning has less to do with the subject matter of the book than you think. The real power is in the discussion after reading the book. It never ceases to amaze us how differently different people read and perceive different characters, events and themes in books. If you’ve ever participated in a book club that spends a lot of time reflecting on the reading, you have surely noticed what you may have perceived as true, just or right was the complete opposite in someone else’s mind. The great power of book clubs consequently is in unearthing those differences and articulating their foundations. By doing this, we understand each other and our world views just a little bit better and can become more empathetic human beings.

That being said, there’s naturally a lot of great non-fiction out there that would surely spark a lot of new and fresh ideas for the business or work practices! Just go ahead and start looking!

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.