Onboarding On-demand – Can We Train New Hires in a Smarter Way?

Onboarding on demand

Onboarding On-demand – Can We Train New Hires in a Smarter Way?

Onboarding is something that all organisations do, yet we’ve seen fairly little innovation in the general handling of it. While many organisations have started incorporating team-building and social experiences to their onboarding processes, the actual training part of it remains relatively untouched. Often, companies still sit their new employees through a large number of training sessions or eLearning modules in a very short amount of time. Naturally, learning retention is low, and most of the training is probably just wasting time. Could we do it a bit smarter though? Let’s play around with an idea of onboarding on demand.

The problems with most onboarding programs

In general, there are different problems that reappear regardless of the organisation. Here are a few of them:

  • Too much training in too little time
  • One-size-fits-all approach
  • Content is irrelevant
  • Content has relevance, but is rarely used on the day-to-day

First of all, trying to train people on a lot of things in a short amount of time simply doesn’t work. You’ll just give your new hires a cognitive overload which will cause them to retain even less. Secondly, onboarding programs may be quite uniform, but the jobs are widely different. That’s an interesting disparity there. Thirdly, a lot of the content on onboarding programs is actually not even relevant, and thus people forget it very quickly. Finally, there’s content that has relevance, but that is rarely applicable on the day-to-day jobs. If you can’t apply what you’ve learnt, chances are you’ll forget it.

How could onboarding on demand solve these problems?

So, what if we took a wholly different approach to onboarding. An approach where the focus is on helping to new hires succeed at their jobs and get quick wins, rather than trying desperately to make sure that they’re “ready” before they start working. Here’s what that could look like in practice:

  1. Instead of front-loading training, shift the focus to performance support resources on demand. This way, new hires can learn on the job and as they encounter problems, they have a resource base to tap into to gain confidence and identify solutions. By doing it this way, they have a chance to immediately apply the things they learn. This increases learning retention for the long term.
  2. Deliver personalised resources. The first 90 days of a newly hired engineer are likely very different from that of a new salesman. People should have access to learning resources that are designed or curated with their context in mind. This helps them to learn the right way of doing things, instead of being responsible for figuring out how to apply abstract concepts to a particular problem.
  3. Learn what’s really relevant through analytics, switch to formal delivery if needed. If you ask subject matter experts, everything is always “must know”. But in reality, most of it isn’t. Learning analytics can help you in identifying the most accessed on-demand resources. If there’s high use for a particular resource, maybe it could be meaningful to design a formal learning experience around that topic.
  4. Don’t bother learners with things they don’t use frequently. Forget trying to hammer some internal procedures (e.g. how to apply for leave, how to call in sick etc.) into employees heads on day 1. Instead, deliver a pool of easily searchable information where employees can find how to do those things. You’ll save a lot of time.

Final words

Naturally, some of the initial training given to employees can be mandated by law, e.g. compliance training. In those areas, it might be difficult to make radical changes in the training approaches. However, a large part of the training that isn’t mandated by law isn’t always really necessary, and that’s where on demand onboarding could save you significant amounts of time and productivity all the while helping people learn better.

This could also provide a way of replacing traditional training with more meaningful experiences, like team building and getting to know new colleagues, without increasing the overall time spent on onboarding. If you’d like to design onboarding programs that really add value, we’d be happy to share some experiences. Just drop us a note.

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Interleaved Learning – Improve Results by Mixing It Up

Interleaved learning can improve results

Interleaved Learning – Improve Results by Mixing It Up

Do you still remember the time you were in school? Chances are that the teachers probably offered you study advice. One particular piece of advise when it came to studying that we recall was “take one subject or topic at a time”. While the intentions were definitely good, it seems likely that it wasn’t necessary the best advice to give. In fact, studies have shown that learning methods that leverage on the opposite – learning a few different things simultaneously – can produce even better results. One of such methods is interleaved learning, and that’s what we’ll look into here.

What is interleaved learning?

Interleaved learning is a method in which one mixes up different topics or forms of practice to facilitate learning. The method is also occasionally referred to as mixed practice or varied practice. Instead of completing one things before moving onto the next one, the learner switches between materials. And that’s where the secret of the method is.

In simple terms, this method of learning works because of the “switching”. The human brain and its cognitive mechanisms such as contextual interference are behind this effect. In practical terms, this means that the increased interference in doing a task forces the learner to use multiple different processing strategies for the topic. This in turn leads to higher learning retention. Interleaved learning also forces the learners to identify the right strategies for tackling a particular problem from their long-term memory, rather than applying the thing they just learned about.

How could we use the method in corporate learning?

In addition to help our personal lives, the method could also be beneficial in corporate learning. Most corporate learning programs often take quite a conventional approach. Usually you’ll have a module on a particular topic, followed by questions (assessment). This type of assessment is certainly not formative enough to really assess learning. It’s more likely that you’ll just be testing short term recall. So, what if we just changed the way we do those questions? Instead of having a small set for particular module, what if we had a big one for a group of modules? This would force the learners to apply the knowledge, instead of just regurgitating it.

Another possible approach could be changing the way we structure learning materials. Normally, you have your “courses” that have a very specific and focused subject matter. But what if we abolished the structure of courses and started working within the framework of topics? Instead of studying a particular course on e.g. how to deliver presentations, the learner could be prompted with various types of not necessarily related materials under the wider umbrella of communication skills. This is similar in philosophy to the resource-based learning strategies that a growing number of organisations are employing.

However, a thing to note when planning interleaved learning is that the topics should never be too similar (so you need to identify right strategies and apply knowledge) nor too unrelated. For instance, pairing up communication training materials with something for technical skills is unlikely to have the desired effect. However, pairing up communication with leadership could work a lot better.

Key takeaways

Interleaved learning is an interesting phenomenon, and certainly good to know about. L&D professionals and learning designers can use the technique to facilitate better and lasting learning. However, even if you’re not a learning designer, the method might be beneficial to incorporate in your own educational endeavours.

Whether you implement it personally or on an organisational level, there’s one thing to note. Interleaved learning is not easy. It feels more difficult, because it is. But that’s exactly why it’s so effective. It forces us to spark those neuron connections and apply knowledge on a wide level. So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate, quick wins with the method. Rather, focus on the long term, as that’s where the effect tends to really start to show.

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4 Ways to Use Scaffolding in Corporate Learning

Instructional scaffolding in workplace learning

4 Ways to Use Scaffolding in Corporate Learning

Instructional scaffolding is a set of techniques used to support learners in their learning process. The goal is to enhance learning and aid the learners in achieving mastery of the topic in question. While the techniques are nothing new, they remain highly relevant. In particular, transformational learning initiatives, whereby organisations introduce new work practices, tasks or strategies can benefit a lot from well-designed scaffolding. If we use a toddler analogy, the process is similar to learning to walk. Initially, you’ll have the parent holding up the kid, gradually giving more “responsibility” to the child, and ultimately letting go altogether.

So, let’s explore instructional scaffolding in the context of workplace learning. Here are 4 techniques that tend to work well in our experience.

1. Tap into and connect with learners’ prior knowledge

A big component of adult learning is learning through building on prior knowledge and experiences. Hence, it’s important that you let the learners see the big picture; how the learning relates to other things. Thus, you should aim to make connections with the employees’ current skills, professional experience and prior learning.

2. Break up content into digestible chunks

To enhance the effect of the previous point and help learners activate their prior knowledge, you should consider breaking up your content. Smaller chunks, or microlearning activities, that build on each other tend to work well. But instead of just chunking up content and delivering it the same way as before, the “consumption” of these activities should be spread over time in a spaced learning approach to enable the learners to build up their knowledge gradually.

3. Give the learners time and opportunities to talk

People need time to process new information and make sense of whatever they have been learning. Peer discussions enable the learners to articulate their own understanding, synthesise information and learn about different points of view. Guided discussions also provide a good platform for sharing personal experiences, tips and best practices that might help other learners. With different social learning technologies, you can facilitate these types of learning discussions in a digital way.

4. Give the learners time and opportunities to practice

Finally, a critical piece in scaffolding is to enable sufficient amounts of practice. When learning new things at the workplace, the challenge is often not in the learning itself, but transferring that learning back to the workplace. But if you allow people to practice, they can build up their confidence doing things in a new way before being exposed to “live” situations. Hence, you should always aim to incorporate practice time in learning activities. That might be role play in small groups, digital simulations or many other types of activities. However, the important factor underlying them all is providing a safe environment to make mistakes.

Final words

Scaffolding techniques have proven to be quite powerful and should be a part of every learning professional’s toolbox. In workplace learning, scaffolding can help employees to learn more effectively and increase learning transfer. However, as a process, it shouldn’t continue forever. Just like with the toddler learning to walk, you need to figure out when to let go completely and let them do things on their own. Similarly, when learners reach a certain level of proficiency, they no longer need or even want you to hold them up.

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Fighting the Forgetting Curve – Fact-based Lessons on Retention

Fighting the forgetting curve - how to make learning stick?

Fighting the Forgetting Curve – How to Make Learning Stick?

If you’re in L&D, chances are that you have heard of the forgetting curve effect. This means that people forget things over time at a diminishing rate. This tends to be a consideration for workplace L&D, as if people don’t even retain what they’re learning, it’s going to be difficult to apply it. While there are a lot of numbers being thrown around as facts (e.g. people forget 70% of what they learn in classroom training within 3 months), the reality is much more complex than that. Thus, we decided to embark on an exploration into the forgetting curve and what makes learning stick. Here are a few fact-based lessons that as an L&D professional you should be aware of.

You cannot generalise the forgetting curve

The first fact, and also an important one, is that we cannot generalise. Educational and cognitive scientists have done a considerable amount of research into the topic. While you could even argue that the methodology of these studies doesn’t really represent the nuances of workplace learning, the findings are nevertheless clear. There’s not a single formula to forgetting. Meta-research results show that the rates of forgetting in these pieces of research have been “all over the place” to put it mildly. The amount of learning retained is heavily influences by several factors, e.g. learning methods, motivation etc.

So, as a takeaway, there are no rules of thumb (such as people forget x% in y days) to the forgetting curve. Parties who claim so have generally either been very selective with their research, or are not familiar with it overall.

What kind of factors affect learning retention?

Like mentioned, learning retention is influenced by several factors. Here are a few of them that are particularly applicable to workplace learning. But don’t consider this list as an exhaustive one!

  • The type of learning materials
  • Learning methods
  • Prior knowledge and experience of the learner
  • Difficulty of assessment
  • Context of learning
  • Learning support and feedback

Interesting and engaging learning materials tend to be less “forgettable”. The more relevant the particular topic or concept, the more likely the person is to retain and learn that information. The more support and feedback the learners have, the more seamless the process of learning should turn out to be.

How to make learning stick? How to keep people from forgetting learning?

To fight the forgetting curve, we need to make learning stick. Situations and contexts vary wildly, so this is not an exact science. There’s no single right or wrong way of doing it. However, here are some guidelines on what kinf of things tend to stick based on research findings that also match what we’ve learned over the course of our own work in workplace learning.

Less sticky, more forgettable

  • Information and knowledge that has very little personal relevance
  • Abstract knowledge that is not conceptualised or related to practice

More sticky, less forgettable

  • Personally relevant information and knowledge
  • Emotionally salient material that “stands out” or evokes a reaction
  • Decision making information

Overall, we could summarise what works in single word: meaningful. For workplace learning to stick and fight the forgetting curve, it should be meaningful. Learning that resonates, is relevant and important to the people in their personal and professional contexts. Just throwing information at people without them wanting or needing it doesn’t result in very much anything (other than forgetting!).

Another key method in reducing the chances of forgetting learning is spaced learning. Research shows that long-term retention can be significantly increased with spaced repetition, where learners are exposed to the material over time, and practice and test themselves on more than just a single occasion. While organisation may often neglect the concept of spaced repetition due to the time investment in designing such, it could greatly benefit workplace learning. And with the right learning technology tools, it’s a lot easier to build such learning activities.

Final words

All in all, much of the discussion out there about the forgetting curve is false. However, people still do forget, that’s certain, and the impact may be significant. If people don’t retain knowledge, they can’t apply it and L&D loses all its value in a heartbeat. By sticking to fact-based and evidence-informed practices and models, workplace learning professional can ensure better retention. And it’s no rocket science. Meaningful learning delivered in a pedagogically meaningful format (e.g. spaced learning) can already get you quite far. After reading this piece, hopefully looking into further research about learning retention and still feeling unsure, feel free to drop us a note. We can help you build learning delivery with a big emphasis on meaningful.

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Contextual Learning in Organisations – Why and How?

Contextual learning in organisations - why context matters

Contextual Learning in Organisations – Why and How?

Many organisations, both large and small, often express their challenges in delivering learning content. Due to this need to rapidly put out fires by pushing content to each and every direction, the L&D teams can easily lose sight of perhaps an even more important thing – context. Here’s why context and contextual learning should be much higher up organisations’ priority lists.

Why context matters in corporate learning

Context is incredibly important in workplace learning for multiple reasons. Firstly, a lot of adult learning happens through scaffolding and building on experiences and prior knowledge. If we can’t connect the dots between what is being taught now, and what the people already know, we’re up for some challenges.

Secondly, contextualisation of learning is important for another highly individual reason. While we do learn at workplaces, learning is rarely the end goal of the employees. Rather, they’re learning to position themselves better professionally, move up the career ladder and unlock new opportunities. Learning is just the way of getting there, and the learning done should serve those goals. If it doesn’t, it gets “mentally thrown out” quite easily.

Thirdly, organisations don’t really learn for the sake of learning either. Rather, L&D functions exist to improve and nurture performance. Learning is again only a medium of intervention, and should certainly not be the only solution. Fundamentally, it’s about helping people succeed in their jobs and roles to help the organisation carry out its mission. If we disregard that context, and deliver learning on an abstract level, without addressing the specifics and peculiarities of actually doing it on the job, we’re unlikely to see an impact on performance.

Finally, the big challenge in corporate learning is not in the delivery phase. We can “get people information” just fine. The challenge is in learning transfer. People have to actually retain the knowledge, and then take it back to their jobs and put it into practice. Often, however, we deliver learning on an abstract level and leave it up to the employees to figure out how to put it into practice (and then they don’t). That’s a model deemed to fail.

How can we deliver more contextual learning?

In essence, high context learning requires you to understand your people and organisation. It’s about designing impactful activities that resemble real situations, are applicable to the learners’ jobs and come with opportunities to practice. Therefore, instead of focusing on building content, you should focus on building context. The following activities or questions can get you closer. So, for every learning activity you put out, consider the following.

  • Who is learning this? What do they already know (learning analytics might help here)? How can we relate the activity to what they already know?
  • What are they doing when they’re accessing this learning? How are they accessing it? What do they need?
  • What motivates our learners? How can we align this learning with their aspirations?
  • How does this learning help our people do their jobs better? What kind of barriers might prevent them from applying the learning?
  • How can we build a safe environment to practice the learnt immediately, to ensure that a higher portion of it is retained and transferred in the long term?

As you might see from reading the questions, it’s really about understanding the people. Now, on practical level that might involve use of analytics, interviews or even job shadowing. Also, something important to address (that we even didn’t manage to yet) is the social context. Cultures of teams or business units, influence and power dynamics often come into play especially when introducing transformational learning initiatives.

Final words

Nowadays, we are drowning in content. Learning content libraries and the amount of available resources is greater than ever before. Yet, we have barely started to overcome the old challenges. Learning is still not being retained or applied (or even consumed!) to a great extent. Most of it just seems to go in from one ear and out the other (perhaps ticking a compliance check list item along the way). So, it’s about time to start approaching the problem differently and putting context above content. Less can sometimes be more too.

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Quick Guide: Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method in Workplace Learning

How to use Brinkerhoff's Success Case Method in workplace learning?

How to Use Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method in Workplace Learning

There are a lot of different frameworks that organisations use to evaluate the impact of their workplace learning initiatives. The Kirkpatrick model and the Philips ROI model may be the most common ones. While the Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method is perhaps a less known one, it can too provide value when used correctly. In this post, we’ve compiled a quick overview of the method and how to use it to support L&D decisions in your organisations.

What’s the Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method?

The method is the brainchild of Dr. Robert Brinkerhoff. While many of its original applications relate to organisational learning and human resources development, the method is applicable to a variety of business situations. The aim is to understand impact by answering the following four questions:

  • What’s really happening?
  • What results, if any, is the program helping to produce?
  • What is the value of the results?
  • How could the initiative be improved?

As you may guess from the questions, the Success Case Method’s focus is on qualitative analysis and learning from both successes and failures on a program level to improve for the future. On one hand, you’ll be answering what enabled the successful to succeed and on the other hand, what barred the worst performers from being successful.

How to use the Brinkerhoff Method in L&D?

As mentioned, the focus of the method is on qualitative analysis. Therefore, instead of using large scale analytics, the process involves surveys and individual learner interviews. By design, the method is not concerned with measuring “averages” either. Rather the aim is to learn from the most resound successes and the worst performances and then either replicate or redesign based on that information.

So ideally, you’ll want to find just a handful of individuals from both ends of the spectrum. Well-designed assessment or learning analytics can naturally help you in identifying those individuals. When interviewing people, you’ll want to make sure that their view on what’s really happening can be backed with evidence. It’s important to keep in mind that not every interview will produce a “success case”, one reason being the lack of evidence. After all, you are going to be using the information derived with this method to support your decision making, so you’ll want to get good information.

Once you’ve established the evidence, you can start looking at results. How are people applying the newly learnt? What kind of results are they seeing? This phase requires great openness. Every kind of outcome and result is a valuable one for the sake of analysis, and they are not always the outcomes that you expected when creating the program. Often training activities may have unintended application opportunities that only the people on the job can see.

When should you consider using Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method?

It’s important to acknowledge that while the method doesn’t work on everything, there are still probably more potential use cases than we can list. But these few situations are ones that in our experience benefit from such qualitative analysis.

  • When introducing a new learning initiative or a pilot. It’s always good to understand early on where a particular learning activity might be successful and where not. This lets you make changes, improvements and even pivots early on.
  • When time is of the essence. More quantitative data and insights takes time to compile (assuming you have the necessary infrastructure already in place). Sometimes we need to prove impact fast. In such cases, using the Brinkerhoff method to extract stories from real learners helps to communicate impact.
  • Whenever you want to understand the impact of existing programs on a deeper level. You may already be collecting a lot of data. Perhaps you’re already using statistical methods and tools to illustrate impact on a larger scale. However, for the simple fact that correlation doesn’t mean causation, it’s sometimes important to engage in qualitative analysis.

Final thoughts

Overall, Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method is a good addition to any L&D professional’s toolbox. It’s a great tool for extracting stories of impact, telling them forward and learning from past successes and failures. But naturally, there should be other things in the toolbox should too. Quantitative analysis is equally important, and should be “played” in unison with the qualitative. Especially nowadays, when the L&D function is getting increased access to powerful analytics, it’s important to keep on exploring beyond the surface level to make the as informed decisions as possible to support the business.

If you are struggling to capture or demonstrate the impact of your learning initiatives, or if you’d like start doing L&D in a bit more agile manner, let us know. We can help you in implementing agile learning design methods as well as analytical tools and processes to support the business.

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How to Write Good eLearning Questions?

How to write good elearning questions?

How to Write Good eLearning Questions?

Wherever there’s learning, we often need some kind of assessment. While learning analytics have evolved considerably over the past few years, often the easiest method to try to capture learning is through asking questions. However, it’s good to keep in mind other formative assessment methods, that might be better in evaluating long-term learning outcomes. Regardless, there are certain elements to asking questions as well. Naturally, you’ll want to be sure that you’re evaluating learning, not just the ability to regurgitate facts or recall statistics. Thus, we put together a quick guide on how to write good eLearning questions. Here you go!

1. Align your questions with the learning objectives

Whenever you’re writing questions, you should keep in mind what the learning objectives of the activity are. When going through subject matter and material, it’s easy to pick on certain things (especially facts, figures, numbers) in the hopes that they would make good questions. However, often these questions don’t go beyond the trivial level, and thus don’t support the learning goals either. Overall, we should focus on the use of knowledge, rather than the ability to recall content. Hence, you should focus on writing eLearning questions that require understanding the concepts and ideas, as well as practical applications.

2. Use a variety of question types

Simple multiple or single choice questions are probably the most used ones. However, there’s no reason you should limit yourself to those. Question types like drag-and-drop, fill-the-blanks, sorting activities and open-ended questions all work well and are easy to execute. The added variety has two benefits. Firstly, it may help in engagement. Instead of mindlessly clicking through alternatives, learners have to focus on the questions type first, and then the content. When you get people to focus, they are more careful, which means you’ll get better answers. Secondly, using multiple different eLearning question enables you to ask about the same thing from different perspectives and in different ways. This helps to really understand whether the learners truly understood the concept or are just working with surface level knowledge.

3. Keep the questions clear and concise, avoid negative

The aim of assessment should naturally be to test whether someone has understood your content. Now, if your learners have trouble already understanding the questions, you’ll just make everyone frustrated. The learners are having trouble answering and you can’t be sure whether it was the content or the question that wasn’t understood. So, keep your eLearning questions clear and concise. Avoid ambiguity, “circling around” and unnecessary detail, and be direct.

Also, you should try to avoid negative phrasing of questions wherever possible. Studies show that negatively phrases questions are more difficult to understand and thus result in more frequent mistakes.

4. Provide valid answer options without free clues

This is probably the part where it’s the easiest to cut corners when you’re under a time pressure. When designing the alternatives that the learner is supposed to pick from (in e.g. a multiple choice question), we’ll naturally already have the question and the right answer ready. It’s probably easy to just come up with random options for the wrong answers, which are also referred to as distractors. But you really shouldn’t do that.

Good assessment tries to eliminate the possibilities of guessing. We often say that “it’s not the correct but the incorrect answers that determine real knowledge”. By providing “bad” alternatives or silly distractors, you’re effectively making it a whole lot easier to pick the right answer from the rest. So, ensure that all the options could at least seem plausible to someone who had not learned the topic. Also, make sure that all your alternatives are roughly the same length and same phrasing. We human beings instinctively look for visual cues when trying to solve problems. By keeping things uniform, you’re not giving away unnecessary free clues.

Final words

Overall, writing good eLearning questions is not rocket science by any measure. A good rule of thumb that encapsulates a lot of the previously said would be “keep it clear and don’t try to trick the learner”. It’s very easy to sabotage one’s own “data set” by asking silly questions, but that only comes back to haunt you as an L&D professional, as you won’t get an accurate picture of the knowledge and skill levels in your organisation. So, the next time you’re designing an eLearning quiz, keep these 4 points in mind!

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How to Make Your Corporate Learning Relevant? And Why It Matters

How to make your corporate learning relevant?

How to Make Your Corporate Learning Relevant? And Why It Matters

One of the bigger problems hindering the impactfulness of corporate learning is not lack quality content or great delivery methods but relevance. Employees often see the corporate just assigning them new training, with little consideration to whether it actually helps them or not. Furthermore, many organisations still do employ a one-size-fits-all type of approach to learning, which is setting up for failure. However, many are realising that providing employees with relevant learning opportunities is crucial. Thus, let’s look at firstly why relevance matters in learning, and then how we can deliver something that truly resonates with the audience.

Why relevance matters in corporate learning?

Relevant learning is crucial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s the way our brains work from learning standpoint. Relevant and meaningful activities that resonate emotionally and connect to existing knowledge help form new neural connections and pathways and build long-term memory storage.

Secondly, it’s a matter of engagement as well. Learners that don’t “connect” with the topic or material are much more likely to disengage, resulting in low retention. Furthermore, they might even lose the motivation to try (and it’s harder to win them back afterwards).

Thirdly, relevant learning is important because the fundamental goal of corporate learning is not just to acquire knowledge, but to transfer it into new work practices and behaviours. And change is hard. If we want to elicit behavioural change, we have to address the specific situations and challenges of the employees, rather than simply providing facts and information and leaving them to figure out the hardest part themselves.

How to deliver relevant learning?

So, how could we deliver learning experiences, whether online or face-to-face, that overcome the challenges above? Much of it deals with personalising learning. While that’s another article’s worth on its own, we thought we’d pick a few fundamental things that are easily forgotten.

  • Go learner-centric: designing and developing your learning experiences in a more learner-centric way helps to tackle a lot of the challenges. Spend time listening to your learners, their challenges, problems, contexts and situations. Involve them in the process as much as possible. Don’t deliver “content”, deliver relevant learning experiences that help them succeed.
  • Create scaffolding. Use the information and data you gain from your learner-centric design process to create scaffolding. Relate what is being learnt to the learners’ previous knowledge, learning history, professional experience, job functions, market areas etc.
  • Keep it fresh: remember to revise and update your activities regularly. The subject matter doesn’t necessarily change, but the context will constantly. Keep your examples, scenarios and cases current, which in turn helps in the scaffolding.

Does technology play a part in this?

One of the bigger promises of today’s and tomorrow’s learning technology is the ability to deliver more personalised learning everyone. While tools like AI are still relatively new in the learning and education space, there’s already quite a lot of good that can be done today.

At the very least, the new abilities to collect learning data and determine real learning needs help to fuel the learner-centric design process. Increasingly many learning environments also use algorithms to recommend relevant learning content and personalise the experience. Some more advanced ones venture into adaptive learning, where the individual learning path shifts based on a number of factors.

But even if you don’t have access to such tools or resources to buy into such technologies, don’t worry. Fundamentally, it’s all about doing the simple things right, and spending time to figure out the real needs. One thing that gets you pretty far: talk to your people!

Final words

Overall, relevance seems like a much undervalued factor in learning. However, the science and research is pretty clear: you need relevant learning to get results. In the corporate world, that’s even more evident, as studies have shown that people learn the new, but still easily revert back to the old ways of doing things. So, consider starting to help your employees and learners succeed by focusing on what helps them. And if you need help in going learner-centric, or leveraging technology to design more relevant experiences, we can help. Just drop us a note here.

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Micro vs. Macrolearning – What to Use and When?

Microlearning vs macrolearning what to use and when

Micro vs. Macrolearning – What to Use and When?

Microlearning has been all the rage in recent years. While we shouldn’t undermine its effectiveness when designed and used properly, it isn’t a solution to all learning problems. Concise and contextual bursts of learning are good for certain uses, but not all. Sometimes, we still need more long-form education, macrolearning.

While the traditional training approaches of organisations perhaps rely more on macrolearning than they should, we do need to make sense of when to go micro and when, on the other hand, we are better off with macro. So, let’s explore what to use, when and how.

We need macrolearning to build new skills…

Generally, we can distinguish between the need of macro vs micro by analysing the existing skill level of the learner. If the topic is entirely new, or the learner has had very limited exposure, macrolearning is the more suitable approach. Novices tend to benefit from structured and guided instruction, as well as learning about the topic with a wide perspective. This helps to develop an understanding of the topic to the level that the learner can start self regulating his/her own learning.

Conversely, attempting to use microlearning on such new topics wouldn’t work very well. As the learners are not familiar with the topic beforehand, they are less likely to be able to form the links between concepts (i.e. relate the microlearning activities to the bigger picture).

Hence, if we consider some practical use cases, macrolearning is likely to be at its best in:

  • Transformational programs. E.g. training people on contemporary topics such as principles of data science, design thinking, machine learning etc. In many organisations, these are skills not readily available in the skill pool.
  • Learning to use the organisation’s tools. E.g. training on how to use various software and information systems of the organisation.

… But microlearning enables us to build on existing skills

Whereas macrolearning focuses on complete skill areas and “the bigger picture”, microlearning is better suited for more specific needs. Pedagogically, we should use microlearning to build on existing knowledge. Once the learners already have a baseline of knowledge to work with, they can contextually apply and relate the newly learnt things to the existing. For instance, once you know enough of a language, learning new words brings immediate benefits. But learning vocabulary without knowing the grammar or how to use the language won’t give you good results.

Additionally, microlearning has the characteristics of being able to help people to learn something small in a convenient, rapid manner. Convenience and speed are key factors when considering learning in the flow of work. Smaller “chunks” are simply more convenient to offer and use than large “chunks”.

So, taking this into account, we could establish that microlearning is potentially better suited for uses such as:

  • Updating” knowledge and skills. E.g. new SOPs, new workplace practices, product updates and best practices. All of these are topics that employees would already have experience on. Hence, micro rather than long-form learning should be better off.
  • Performance support. Practical knowledge and information on how to perform specific tasks, delivered just-in-time.
  • Increasing retention. Refreshers, knowledge checks and other spaced learning elements help to increase retention, even within a wider “macrolearning” activity.

Final thoughts

We should never assume that there are any one-size-fits-all approaches to learning. Ultimately, executing an effective workplace learning strategy is about combining different methods, formats and approaches in a way that makes sense – for both the organisation and the employees. Perhaps a key thing to remember for the future is that neither micro- or macrolearning has to be just “formal” learning activities. Furthermore, we shouldn’t forget the clear link between the two. Micro will always be a part of the macro, and macro will always include the micro.

Hence, you should take the time to analyse your own organisational needs, and see what where you might best utilise either of the approaches, and even better, how to play them together. And if you think you might need help in developing this kind of a learning strategy, we can probably help. Just shoot us a message here and we’ll get back to you.

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How to Move Towards a Resource-based Learning Strategy?

Moving towards resource-based learning strategy in the workplace

How to Move Towards a Resource-based Learning Strategy?

In modern workplace learning, speed and flexibility are more important than ever. Meanwhile, employees expect learning to be more personalised and happen at their terms rather than the corporate’s. Conventional approaches to training, such as lengthy classroom sessions or elearning courses are often ill-suited for the real learning needs of the modern worker. Overall, the highly structured, one-size-fits-all formal training is coming to the end its road. So what does the future hold then? Well, many things, that’s for sure. But one major paradigm shift in the way we view corporate learning is the shift towards resource-based learning strategies. Let’s look at that shift in a bit more detail.

What’s a resource-based learning strategy all about?

So, let’s first tackle what’s changing and the factors driving the change. First of all, workplaces are increasingly performance-focused, and that’s affecting learning as well. The need to prove the benefits for performance has been partly fuelled by L&D’s inability to use data and prove the impact of different learning activities. Secondly, skills and knowledge are changing and expiring faster than ever. The employees naturally need to keep up, but don’t have the luxury of time on their side. Thirdly, we’ve realised that one size doesn’t fit all, we can’t force people to learn and a whole lot of learning is not being applied by the employees. A resource-based learning strategy can help to address all these issues.

Here are a few key shifts in thinking and considerations when moving towards resource-oriented learning.

Focusing on helping the employees to do their jobs better

The ironic thing about conventional corporate learning is that it sometimes actually hinders our employees’ ability to do their jobs. We take them away from their jobs. We have them spend their time on learning things that we think benefit the company. Furthermore, we often get carried away with competencies, curricula and courses. But actually, all that matters is that we help the employees do their jobs better. Hence, instead of inconveniencing them with learning, we should build and curate learning that helps them to carry out specific tasks. These kinds of resources have to naturally be quick to access and consume. Time is money. From a learning standpoint, conveying information that the learner can apply immediately is also of much higher learning value than going through abstract concepts that are quite remote from the job at hand.

Allowing people to direct their own learning

Traditionally, companies manage their training in quite a top-down manner. However, more learner-centric approaches to people development may garner better results. One of the key aspects of a successful resource-based learning strategy is the learners’ ability to influence their own development paths and activities they uptake. Allowing people to choose which learning resources to consume and when (often at the point of need) ensures that the material is always relevant and can often be applied into practice immediately. Moreover, learners have a much higher share of intrinsic motivation, compared to L&D team having to lure them over with “artificial” techniques like gamification.

Arguably, modern employees are quite well aware of the fact that they need to take a proactive stance in their own development. This is evident from the statistics on the free time spent on learning various things. A resource-based learning strategy empowers the employees to take (to an extent) charge of their own development. The responsibility of the organisation is to provide the resource base for it. Well-curated resources help cut through the clutter, and find the “right” content.

Final thoughts

Corporate learning has for a long time over-emphasised formal training. However, as traditional approaches start to fall short, we need to refine our strategies. The general need to shift from courses and curricula to resources seems evident. In fact, leading organisations are already implementing learning initiatives to empower their employees unlike ever before. All in all, the shift in philosophy is a fundamental one. Hopefully, this post provides a baseline of concepts to explore further from. And should you need help in future proofing your organisational learning strategy, we are happy to help. Just contact us here.

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