Omnichannel Learning – Steps Towards Unified Experiences

Omnichannel learning experiences - unified and seamless

Omnichannel Learning – Steps Towards Unified Experiences

The concept of omnichannel comes from the retail sector, where retailers are striving to provide a seamless, unified and personalised shopping experience across different channels, such as online, mobile and physical stores. Organisations who fail to utilise some of the individual channels or integrate them seamlessly seem to be struggling in business because of low customer engagement. While omnichannel is not much of a buzzword in the learning and development space, we should adopt the same ideology. After all, learning engagement as well as tracking learning across different channels is a challenge for many organisations. Here’s how we could move towards an omnichannel learning approach to tackle these problems.

Omnichannel learning starts with cross-platform functionality

We live in the era of learning apps. For almost every need, there’s an app. On top of that, you have your corporate LXP (or LMS) systems, learning portals, intranets and co-working platforms. The problem is that often these systems are don’t communicate very well with each other. Your learner may complete a learning activity in a dedicated application, but doesn’t in any way reflect in the content that e.g. your LMS might push to him/her. Running multiple platforms easily results in an incredible amount of duplicate work and activities. Furthermore, it tends to hide information in silos and the confines of the platform.

The aim of successful omnichannel learning is to abolish the boundaries of individual platforms. While running a single learning platform for all the learning needs would be ideal from a systems management standpoint, it’s often a non-feasible reality. Hence, when you’re looking at “yet another app” to solve your learning challenges, you should pay attention to the interoperability possibilities with your existing infrastructure. An important aspect of that is the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) the systems can use to fetch and receive information from each other.

Omnichannel learning should aim for a unified user experience

Another omnichannel feature that may be equally challenging to create is a unified user experience across platforms. If we use a retail analogy, the aim is not only for the mobile app to match the design of the responsive website/web application, but the physical environment (the retail stores) to match it as well. A seamless transition between online and offline will be key to deliver a great user experience and sustain engagement. Interestingly, the online to offline is a particular challenge in learning as well (more on that later).

This area of omnichannel learning is the one where running multiple platforms usually kills the game. However, with a bit of effort on visual- and functional design, we can do quite a lot. Naturally, visual design, colour schemes etc. should match across platforms, as it is a low effort – high return type of situation. In terms of functionality, you’re better off if your applications follow similar logic in terms of accessing and consuming learning. Furthermore, you shouldn’t unreasonably restrict functionalities on mobile platforms, otherwise you may lose a lot of engagement.

How do we collect uniform learning data from all the different channels – even offline?

To, first of all, understand and further develop omnichannel learning experiences, we need comprehensive learning data. As we want to eliminate unnecessary overlaps in delivery, we need to grasp how the different channels work together. While each app or learning tool may very well have its own analytics, they don’t necessarily help the bigger picture. Furthermore, a major challenge is bringing offline (face-to-face) into the mix and collecting data from them. Thus, we need a unified framework of recording all different learning activities, whether mobile, online or classroom-based.

Luckily, we already have the technological answer for the problem – The Experience API (xAPI). The xAPI specification enables us to track and collect uniform data from all learning activities, even offline and pass them onto a single locker of data for analysis. It helps not only in learning analytics, but also enables better understanding of content engagement and learner-centric design.

What about content development for omnichannel?

Finally, content development is an important topic in an omnichannel approach to learning. Naturally, all digital content should be fully responsive, so it can be accessed via a browser on all devices and wrapped into mobile applications for native use. Interoperability and accessibility is imperative, as the concept of omnichannel expands the “mobile learning paradigm” of “anytime, anywhere” to “any content, anytime, anywhere”.

Integrating this mode of operation to offline activities is again the biggest challenge. The approach requires a degree of flexibility from the trainers, coaches and mentors. They need to adapt their classroom content to form a natural continuum to the prior (digital) learning experiences. But thanks to xAPI and learning analytics, they nowadays have the power to understand each learner on a very individual level.

Are you delivering seamless and unified learning experiences across different channels? If you want to move away from siloed learning approaches, we can help. Our advisory services cover both technology implementations and strategic learning consulting. Just contact us.

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Extended Enterprise Learning – Expanding Training Beyond Own Employees

Extended enterprise learning - train your partners, customers and stakeholders

Extended Enterprise Learning – Expanding Training Beyond Own Employees

Another trend that we’re seeing in the training business is that all organisations are rapidly getting involved in the training business. The world where we were only responsible for our own employees is no longer there. Rather, organisations are nowadays also training their customers, partners, freelancers, resellers and sometimes even potential competitors! The term coined for these training activities going beyond the scope of employment is called extended enterprise learning.

So, let’s look at what organisations are doing in this space and also how extended enterprise learning may differ from the traditional in-house L&D.

Should you train your partners?

Absolutely, say many organisations. For instance, most technology companies have training programs for their distributors and resellers. Furthermore, all companies are usually a part of some kind of a supply chain. A lot of companies are also working on extending the enterprise learning to the upstream of their supply chain (suppliers, vendors, etc.). Often this is compliance, but it can also be sustainability, operations or other things depending on the level of cooperation. These training activities generally build towards much better collaboration, as the parties will grow mutual understanding and shared goals.

How about training your customers?

So, providing extended enterprise learning to partners definitely makes sense, but how about customers? Moving from the upstream supply chain to the downstream, is there added value in providing learning for your clients?

Well, many organisations seem to think so. Again, technology companies have been spearheading the change and have built extensive and sometimes impressive customer support programs. They’ve understood that their success comes from the success of their customers. And it’s not just customer support. These organisations often offer certificates that the customers pay for to either support their own business or showcase their expertise. There’s a whole new revenue stream for you!

Recently, we’ve seen many traditional companies entering this space. E.g. utilities companies providing learning resources on leading a sustainable life. Or clothing retailers teaching customers about their products in the context of sustainability, social responsibility and social impact.

Can extended enterprise learning help freelancers, contract workers and temporary staff?

The nature of work is shifting dramatically. Contract work and freelancing is becoming more and more common. The gained flexibility seems to be working for both corporates and the individuals. However, due to their temporary nature, these workers don’t often get access to the same learning as the directly employed folks. The reasons could be compliance, security, physical distance or lack of infrastructure. Yet, these workers would need the training like any others.

In many cases, it’s the underlying learning technology that is at fault. “We can’t let outsiders access our corporate LMS” is a phrase we hear all too often. Many companies with that kind of real limitations or in most cases, emotional barriers have found a way to circumvent the problem. They’ve built or taken on a separate platform to deliver training to their extended enterprise learning audience.

How does extended enterprise learning differ from employee training?

Naturally, training new audiences differs in many ways from that of your own employees. The topics, content and approaches may be different. But one of the most important differentiators is motivation. Whereas employees have to tolerate a lacklustre learning experience, or otherwise they might be out of a job, external stakeholders don’t. Your partners or freelancers, let alone customers, are not going to engage in your learning if it’s not perceived as high quality. They have far better ways to spend their time and more important things to do. As such, relying on the biggest false myth of the learning industry – “build it and they will come” – quickly proves to be a futile strategy. Thus, if you really want to practice extended enterprise learning, you need to do it properly.

And that is not to say you can get away with providing poor quality learning experiences to your own employees. That’s going to have its long-term problems too!

Have you tried extended enterprise learning?Would you like to develop new revenue streams by using your organisation’s know-how and expertise? We can help you develop a great learning offering, just contact us.

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Game-Based Learning for Corporates – Why and How?

game-based learning

Game-Based Learning for Corporates – Why and How?

Games have been a popular pastime as far as history goes. However, the reach of gaming amplified significantly with the introduction of computers, and later, mobile devices. Games provide a powerful medium to activate, engage and educate. However, game-based learning has only recently emerged in the context of corporate L&D. 

Before going further, it’s important to draw a clear distinction between gamification and game-based learning. Gamification refers to the implementation of game-like features in non-game settings, whereas game-based learning involves actual games. Whereas organisations have adopted gamification successfully across many areas, game learning has a narrower scope of implementation. However, that’s not to undermine it’s impact. Here’s why you should consider game-based learning in your organisation and how you can get started with it. 

Why does game-based learning work? 

  • Games encourage active learning – you cannot progress in games by doing nothing or being passive. 
  • Games motivate the learner – there’s a sense of progress supported by achievements, trophies, competition and social elements. 
  • Learning games provide both structure and freedom. Goals, stories and rules govern the game, but players have the freedom to play as they like. 
  • Games stimulate creativity as different types of tasks may require different solutions, problem solving and inventiveness. 
  • Games provide challenges – players can compete against themselves as well as other players, individually or in teams. 

How can I get started with game-based learning?  

Knowing the basics of games and why game-based learning works, here are a few tips on how to put it into practice. 

Firstly, evaluate the learning needs carefully. Learning games are by no means a solution to all situations. Acknowledging that, it’s highly important to focus on the learning goals and desired outcomes. It’s not difficult to engage employees with brilliant games. But if they fail to produce the desired learning and performance results, they end up being a waste of time. 

Secondly, you should utilise the whole potential games have to offer and not stick to a single “template”. Some games may be for individual completion, whereas others may require users to team up with their colleagues. You can also set games over defined periods of time, e.g. to support strategy implementation or business cycles. Playing the games can also happen both in physical and digital environments: some games may require moving about the office or the city, whereas some may be played exclusively in a virtual environment. 

There’s a lot of opportunity in learning games

Overall, game-based learning provides an endless amount of opportunities to engage and activate corporate learners. However, it’s important to keep the learning at the core of the game experience. Thanks to the long history of games, there’s also an endless amount of “features” you can implement in your learning games. So start exploring the mechanics of popular games and get creative on bringing those features into your corporate learning! 

Are you interested in trying game-based learning in your organisation? We can help you get started in activating and engaging your learners. Just contact us

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“Non-Tech” Corporate Learning Trends 2019

corporate learning trends

“Non-Tech” Corporate Learning Trends 2019

Last week we took a look at learning technology trends for 2019. While technological capabilities will be at the forefront of the developments corporate learning, there are important things happening outside of tech too. As we progress with technology, we are re-evaluating the effectiveness of our longstanding learning practices. As such, this results in improvements in learning methods, design and delivery even in offline settings. Thus, here are some of the “non-tech” corporate learning trends for 2019. 

Corporate learning trend #1: from learning management to learning experiences

Traditionally, corporate learning has been a very top-down approach. Unfortunately, too much of the focus has been on “learning management” instead of providing great learning experiences. In 2019, organisations will increasingly adopt learner-centric approaches to their strategy and design processes. This trend in corporate learning means that the ultimate focus is on the learner, their success and subsequent performance. Personalised learning experiences will supersede tick-box style eLearning courses. Organisations will finally start to focus on learning for the sake of learning and performance, rather than fulfilling arbitrary assessment or compliance criteria.

While the focus of this text is to focus on non-tech corporate learning trends, it should be said that this paradigm shift is further facilitated by developments in learning technology. 

Corporate learning trends #2: from corporate-controlled to user-generated content

In the era of the knowledge and information economy, corporate L&D is waking up to a realisation. There’s simply no way for any organisation to simultaneously produce all learning content themselves and keep abreast the speed of change. As learning needs are more diverse than ever before, there’s simply no resources. Hence, organisations will start looking inwards for untapped resources. Employees nowadays possess diverse sets of skills and tacit knowledge. Organisations will increasingly look for ways to tap into that hidden knowledge by letting employees engage in peer-to-peer, collaborative and social learning. These particular corporate learning trends provide a way of bypassing traditional lengthy learning design processes and help to keep the content up-to-date. 

Corporate learning trend #3: from formal learning towards performance support

Another realisation that corporate L&D professionals are increasingly making is that formal learning approaches fail to address the real business problems. Traditional methods of delivery, be it classroom or “eLearning” are too distant from the daily work. Learners don’t benefit from heaps of theoretical knowledge and new frameworks. Rather, they yearn for tips and practical applications to support their own work and performance. If the employee cannot apply the learning immediately, it’s very likely to forgotten. 

Thus, organisations will increasingly start looking into ways to integrate learning into the workflow. Instead of delivering everything just-in-case, learning will become much more just-in-time. Furthermore, performance support resources, e.g. coaching and microlearning will take over from lengthy activities. 

Corporate learning trend #4: towards fluid blended learning experiences

Finally, organisations will start paying increased attention to their learning delivery. For a while now, organisations have been jumping at digital without really thinking through it. Similarly, many have shrugged off the need for digital transformation thinking “…this can never be taught digitally…”. With 2019 around the corner, many organisations have realised that blended learning is probably the way to go. 

Hence, the focus will be on creating fluid blended learning experiences connecting the physical and the digital world. No activity can happen in isolation. Rather, organisations need to develop and maintain a solid and holistic understanding of every learning component and the role they play in the final outcomes. Meanwhile, trainers need to re-orient themselves for the digital era. Overall, all the pieces of the learning mix need to work in harmony with each other as well as the business operations and that will be a main focus area of many L&D departments. 

Is your L&D ready for 2019? If you’re not sure, feel free to contact us for a free consultation session. We’d be happy to help you future-proof your corporate learning. 

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How to Best Utilise the 3 Types of Learning Interactivity?

Learning Interactivity Types

How to Best Utilise the 3 Types of Learning Interactivity?

Learning interactivity is a major factor influencing retention of information and knowledge development. Research unilaterally shows that active formats of learning generally result in the highest retention rates. However, developing active and engaging learning experiences is a major challenge for organisations looking to shift from classroom training to digitally enabled learning. In many cases, digital learning professionals and eLearning companies have unfortunately cut the corners. Instead of delivering interactivity across the whole spectrum, they have primarily focused on only one aspect of it. Hence, we decided to compile a short guide on effectively leveraging interactivity in learning.

For reference, here are the three types of learning interactivity.

  1. Learner-Content interactivity
  2. Learner-Instructor interactivity
  3. Learner-Learner Interactivity

And here’s what they mean and how to put them into practice.

1. Learner-Content Interactivity

First, the primary type of learning interactivity is between the learner and the content. This is the type of interactivity that much of the eLearning scene has focused on. Research shows that meaningful two-way interactions (e.g. knowledge checks, information overlays, quizzes) generally help to pace the learning and lift up retention levels. However, not all interactions are for the best. An artificial focus on collecting “clicks” may actually result in an adverse effect.

To capitalise on learning interactivity on the content level, organisations could consider tools like interactive video curators, rapid eLearning authoring tools and learning platforms with integrated content tools. However, you should refrain from designing interactions for the sake of interactions. Rather, they should form an integrated, relevant and meaningful part of the learning experience.

2. Learner-Instructor interactivity

One of the forgotten aspects of learning interactivity has been that between the learner and the instructor. When transforming classroom content into the digital space, the future role and importance of the instructor has been often forgotten. Often, that has been an attractive approach to organisations due to the immediate cost savings. However, we have learned that completely self-paced and independent learning does not necessarily produce the desired results.

Instead, organisations should aim to retain the role of the instructor. Often, that could be in the form of blended or flipped learning. And even if you’re looking to deliver learning 100% digitally, there’s still a place for the instructor. Why not have them facilitate the learning on your learning platforms and online portals? This gives your learners access to better support for their development. Furthermore, the instructor is able to assess the learning and intervene accordingly with additional sessions, discussions and knowledge checks.

3. Learner-Learner Interactivity

Finally, we arrive at the perhaps most neglected aspect of learning interactivity of the three: learner-learner interactions. According to social learning theories and scientific research, a major part of our learning experience as individuals happens with the helps of others. We learn through discussions, listening, observing, mimicking and reflecting on knowledge and behaviours as a group. In a classroom setting, this happens quite naturally. Learners engage with each others in discussions, do activities together and help each other succeed. However, these types of interactions have not been easily replicated in an online environment – until the recent years!

In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of social learning platforms. Leveraging on the power and success of social media, these platforms put the focus back on the learners, enabling them to engage with each other regardless of instructor presence or schedules. Arguably, these platforms are one the most powerful developments in the digital learning industry for a while. Hence, we generally advice organisations looking into implementing new learning systems (LMS, LXP etc.) to really look into the social capabilities of the options available. However, even if you don’t have the resources to commit to these modern learning tools, that doesn’t mean you need to forget learner-learner interactivity altogether. You can always look into leveraging the social media tools your employees are already on and taking the discussions there.

Are you using all three levels of learning activity in a meaningful way? If you need to help in fitting these engagement enhancers to your learning mix, let us know. We are also happy to recommend you some of the best social learning tools on the market. 

 

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Gamified Learning Design – 3 Emerging Concepts

Gamified Learning Design

Gamified Learning Design – 3 Emerging Concepts

Gamification is becoming increasingly popular in the corporate learning space – and for a valid reason. Gaming has been a popular pastime for quite a long time, especially among young people. Hence, they are also responding positively to gamified learning activities. However, it’s always important to make the right distinction between games and gamification. Gamification means the application of game-like elements in a non-game setting. For instance, sales organisation have used leaderboards or sales trophies for a long time – effectively gamifying the process.

Previously, we’ve looked at simple tools of gamification like badges and leaderboards as well as learning simulations. Thus, we decided to delve a bit deeper and introduce a few slightly more advanced techniques for designing gamified learning and tips on putting them into practice.

1. Applying progression and levels in learning content

The best games usually come with some kind of built-in or scripted progression. Players are able to progress through levels with increasing difficulty or complexity. This is quite easily applied in corporates as well with gamified learning. Instead of giving the learner all the content at once, you can create a sense of exclusivity and achievement by having the learners “unlock” new content as they progress. By doing this, you’re also effectively chunking the content into smaller pieces, which decreases the risk of overwhelming the learner. Furthermore, learners are able to recognise their own progress more clearly, which helps to boost their motivation.

2. Enabling points and unlocking of rewards

What would games be without points? In gaming, competition and achievements are two of the main ways of keeping the players playing. In a corporate environment, competition is not always the best approach, while it works well for some areas. But you can apply the concept of points and scoring on an individual basis too. Reward the learners with points for all learning activities, whether that’s comments on social platforms, participation in instructor-led training or completion of eLearning modules. You can choose the behaviours you want to reward and design the points collection accordingly.

Naturally, points work much better as a motivator if they mean something. An increasingly popular approach this kind of gamified learning is to link the learning progress into real-life rewards. Instead of just accumulating points, you could let your learners exchange them for something tangible. Potential rewards could include e.g. days off, gift cards, invitations to special events and the like. To each company its own. Concrete rewards like these are not difficult to implement and provide a very tangible method of engaging employees.

3. Applying task-based gamified learning journeys

Many successful games also have the players completing tasks or missions. Building on the two previous methods, you could also design a task-based approach to learning delivery. For example, you could push particular content at defined intervals, e.g. on a weekly basis. The “learning of the week” would be highlighted to the learner and you could also give them additional rewards for completing it – double points for instance.

This way, you have tools of guiding the learning consumption in a seamless way instead of a heavy “push” approach. Organisations could also rotate content based on real-time needs and interventions. This helps the learners to prioritise as well – they are more likely to take up on the featured content as in the hopes of an extra reward. Furthermore, this method of gamified learning helps out in the employees’ time management and allocation. Once employees have completed all the “content of the week” they can confident in their effort. All additional learning is then good extra.

Overall, gamification is a wonderful approach to increase engagement and motivation in the workplace – and not just for learning. Digital capabilities naturally help in the application, but a lot can be done with a shoestring budget or even totally offline methods. Just get creative!

Are you looking to implement gamified elements into your learning? We are happy to help you get started and support you along the way. Just drop us a note

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Digitalising Onboarding Programs – 3 Ideas for Increased Impact

Digital onboarding programs

Digital Onboarding Programs – 3 Ideas for Better Experiences

Onboarding programs and new employee orientation are generally areas that follow a common pattern. Companies hope to give learners all the information they need to get from 0 to 100 in the least time possible and to become a part of the community. However, the effectiveness of orientation programs in their traditional format suffers a lot because of one simple thing – cognitive overload. New employees joining a company are already anxious, just because they are coming to a new environment. In this situation, many companies take the silly path of trying to drop as much information to the new guys as possible – and expecting them to retain some! As you may guess, the retention with this approach is not great. Could digitalisation help to solve some of the problems with onboarding programs? Here are 3 ideas for digital onboarding programs.

How about Blended Onboarding Programs?

Naturally, the fundamental nature of onboarding – welcoming an employee to the workplace – cannot warrant a fully digital approach. People still need to be present. However, a blended learning approach to onboarding could help to provide a better experience. The usual company “starter kit”, comprising of company information, benefits, policies etc. can be easily digitalised. There’s no valid grounds for wasting time in the traditional classroom setting for these types of things. Rather, developing these starter kits into a digital onboarding programs helps to free up time. You could then use this free’d up time for e.g. networking sessions and inspirational speeches that build and demonstrate the company culture.

You can also use Augmented Reality (AR) for onboarding programs. Click here to find out more. 

Delivering the necessary knowledge as “performance support”

Let’s face it. Most of the contents of non-digital or digital onboarding programs are things of little interest to the employees. Until they need the information that is. Things like policies and company guidelines seem totally irrelevant and unnecessary on the first day. Yet, later on, employees could benefit to convenient access to this type of information. Hence, it could make sense to deliver the content in a format optimal for performance support and learning in the workflow. Think of the information as microlearning nuggets to be consumed at point of need. You’re ultimately saving up a lot of time for your employees both old and new, while increasing flexibility and convenience.

Enabling Social Presence through digital communities

Social presence, the feeling of being a part of something, is terribly important both from an organisational and learning standpoint. Digital communities and social learning tools provide a great way of engaging your new employees already before they come in on their first day. By enabling new joiners to start creating their own profiles, introducing themselves and learning about their new colleagues, you can alleviate a lot of the pressure and social anxiety that happens on the first day. When there is less anxiety, the onboarding process will be a lot smoother. Great digital onboarding programs should always include a social element since one of the most important parts of the process in the networking.

Also, you can leverage the opportunity to let the new joiners voice their opinions and expectations, as well as collect feedback from them. This way, you’ll be able to identify potential challenges ahead of time and intervene accordingly.

Would you like to take your onboarding and orientation activities to the digital era? We can help you accomplish that. Just contact us here and we’ll get back to you. 

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Social Presence – Key to Impactful Learning Experiences

Social Presence in Learning Experiences

Social Presence – Key to Impactful Learning Experiences

Fundamentally, learning is a social process. There’s no dispute that our social context; interactions, engagements and relationships all play a role in shaping our knowledge, skills and capability. Thus,  it’s vital for learning professionals to understand the value of social presence. Social presence, simply defined, is the feeling of being part of something. It seems that this social presence is why face-to-face training is still relevant. People come to the classrooms not only to gain knowledge, but to interact, form connections and engage in social activity.

The failure to replicate this type of environment may have been the reason why traditional eLearning never became the success it was set out to be. However, technology has evolved tremendously from the days of that type of eLearning. Hence, we nowadays have the capabilities of nurturing that social presence even with digital tools. And here are some considerations to help you along the way.

Building Connections and Facilitating Interactions

To attract learners to your digital learning experiences, you need to make sure they have the same possibilities of connecting with people than in face-to-face. Facilitating learning through a social platform helps tremendously in this regard. People can build their connections, engage in discussions and share experiences. People don’t only learn through the materials or the instructor, but from each other also, which the peer-to-peer connecting opportunities facilitate.

Interactions also play an important part in learning engagement. When you are physically disconnected from other learners, it’s vital to have opportunities for interacting in different ways. Enabling people to build profiles, like, comment, share and follow – all fundamental concepts of social media – helps to nurture the social presence and keep learners engaged.

Build on experiences encouraging reflection

Naturally, all learners are individuals and thus have their own individual context – prior experience, background, exposure etc. It’s important to build on these individual experiences, which is one of the primary ways of adult learning. Reflection is of equal importance, enabling the learner to link new knowledge in to previous experiences and form the understanding required for application. Finally, even individual experiences and reflections are powerful when shared with others, as we also learn by mimicking and mirroring. Thus, enabling social presence is important and you should make it possible even across activities that may feel “individual”.

Leverage on groups for learning ownership and support

Social presence can also be an important tool for motivation. When people are actively engaged in a learning group, they are more likely to take ownership of their learning. This means that they are more likely to seek out learning opportunities based on their personal needs e.g. to better participate in discussions. Due to the collaborative nature of learning, individuals are also less likely to drop out of the activities. There’s a sense of commitment to the group and no-one wants to let their peers down!

These type of engaged communities also go a long way in internal support. Whenever someone is struggling, it’s easy to approach people for help. Furthermore, in an engaged community, people often proactively identify opportunities in helping other people. This creates a great platform for both emotional and performance support, which can reduce the L&D department’s work quite drastically.

These are a few ways of leveraging on the power of social presence in your digital learning. If you’d like to learn more or need tools for facilitating social presence in the digital era, just contact us

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User-Centred Learning Design – Using the 5Di Model

User-centred learning design 5Di

User-Centred Learning Design – Using the 5Di Model for Learning Activity Development

A few weeks back, we touched on the topic of delivering engaging experiences with learner-centric design. While that article covered some general principles of user-centred learning design, we wanted to further introduce you to an actual design framework. Naturally, we picked a framework that we’ve adopted and keep adapting at Learning Crafters, called 5Di. The 5Di is not something we’ve developed ourselves, rather it was actually spearheaded by Nick Shackleton-Jones. We recognised the value-add in the approach and have since adapted it to our learning design process. So what’s the 5Di all about?

The 5Di User-centred learning design model

The model outlines a 6-step learning design process, the five Ds and the I.

  1. Define
  2. Discover
  3. Design
  4. Develop
  5. Deploy
  6. Improve

And here’s a rundown of the activities within each part of the process.

1. Define

As with any project, user-centred learning design should also start with identifying the problem. It’s important to partner with the business to define the desired outcomes. The desired outcomes should be based on results, not learning objectives per say. After all, you’re developing learning to achieve business impact. However, don’t be too confined to a familiar set of solutions when in the definition – a course or even training is not always the right answer.

2. Discover

Then, partner with the assumed audience of the learning to gain deeper understanding of the business problem. Involve subject-matter experts to identify the behaviour required and barriers for improved performance. It’s very difficult to translate learning into behaviour later on if you don’t take the time to understand the line of business initially.

3. Design

Next, develop a formulated approach into solving the learning problem and document it for presentation to the decision-maker. Develop scripts, wireframes or storyboards outlining the approach. A good wireframe helps to divide up tasks later on to enable a quicker and more agile development.

4. Develop

Next, develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to get user and stakeholder feedback on. Reiterate and refine the learning design accordingly. Test the “product” for usability, interoperability with existing systems etc. And remember, collecting feedback is adamant. If you don’t focus on gathering user feedback, the whole concept of MVP renders itself obsolete. Furthermore, it’s important that designers continue to partner with subject-matter experts to guarantee a truly user-centred learning design.

5. Deploy

Roll out the learning activity to the users while drumming it up with communications and marketing using common channels available to you. Good communication is needed for a successful learning activity. Therefore, you should treat it as a marketing campaign. Thus, a single informative email is not enough. Rather, you should drum it up over time and involve user feedback, referrals and success stories where possible. In business units, it also often pays to get line managers to recommend the learning activities to their teams.

6. Improve

Finally, we arrive at the most important step! The learning development process doesn’t stop even after learners have completed the course. Rather, you should keep monitoring the content performance and user engagement levels and make improvements accordingly. A learning data driven approach is well suited for this, and xAPI capabilities help tremendously in analysing engagement. Remember, it’s not only the subject-matter refinement you should focus on! Rather, it’s the delivery and user experience that are often more important.

That’s 5Di, a user-centred learning design approach, in a nutshell. With this agile method, we’ve been able to actually reduce our learning development times. Also, the results have been a lot better in terms of measurability, user experience and learning results.

Are you using 5Di or a similar learning design approach? If you’d like to implement a more agile learning development approach with your learning designers, we can help you. Just drop us a note

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Learner-Centric Design – Deliver Engaging Learning Experiences

Learner-centric design

Learner-Centric Design – Deliver Engaging Learning Experiences

Traditionally, corporate learning has been a rather top-down function: the company defines the right knowledge, benchmarks and learning goal posts. However, in today’s environment, a top-down approach doesn’t meet the requirements of the modern learner. Corporate learners today expect companies to provide personalised and tailored opportunities catering to their specific professional needs. Furthermore, with the current pace of change, a top-down approach is too slow to respond to the constantly evolving needs of the daily business. Moving to a more learner-centric design approach comes with multiple benefits: increased engagement, more self-directedness and cognitive presence. But most importantly, companies can cater to the unique learning needs of their employees and help them to succeed in their jobs. Here are a few cornerstone steps you can take to understand your learners better and provide activities with learner-centric design.

1. Know your learner

The first initial point of failure for learning initiatives is relevance. It’s easy to take a one-size-fits-all approach and roll out of-the-shelf learning activities across the organisation. This leads to overlaps, inefficiency and motivation slump when learners need to complete topics they already know or that are not relevant to their jobs. Thus it’s important to understand who your learners are. Where do they work and what’s their role and seniority? What’s their previous learning history in different subject matter areas? How do they prefer to learn and what are the most effective delivery methods for them?

This type of information is not hard to collect. There’s a lot of easy tools for collecting information, feedback and employee input. Hopefully, you have most of this kind of information recorded in your information systems. Ideally, you are also leveraging learning data to understand your employees better (with e.g. xAPI).

2. Personalise learning activities

Once you have got to know your learner, you should start personalising the learning activities. To excel with learner-centric design, you should also explore different modalities. Some learners may prefer video based content, whereas others require a more collaborative learning activities. Naturally, the most effective method of instruction may vary by the topic. Once you’ve grasped the modalities, you should start personalising for different skill levels and existing competencies. By branching your learning content, you enable competent individuals to skip through certain segments and provide more rudimentary materials to the beginners. You can use historical learning data or pre-activity assessments to map out the existing skill level and competence of the employee and guide them to a “bespoke” batch of learning activities accordingly. This enables them to get learning material of the right difficulty, in the right format, at the right time.

3. Enable self-direction and develop shared commitments to learning

Even with highly personalised learning and great programs, it would be foolish to believe that we can cater to all the learning needs of our employees. There will always be a lot of topics which they would like to learn more about – and you shouldn’t restrict them. Instead of confining the learning to corporate uploaded content in an LMS, let the learners take control and ownership of their own learning. Encourage them to venture out of the traditional space (e.g. the LMS), to look for resources online or subject-matter experts within the organisation. And recognise them for it.

Furthermore, encourage them to share their findings or subject matter with others in the organisation. Social learning helps the employees to update their skills at the speed of the business, something that a top-down approach simply cannot answer to. By shifting to a learner-centric process, where the employees can learn from each other instead of just the trainers, you are developing a shared commitment in learning. The employees grow to understand that their participation and activity matters in making the learning successful. In fact, the employees form a core part of the learning process. They help in sourcing and curating content and engaging and guiding other learners.

4. Use constant feedback for learner-centric design

The final thing we need to acknowledge to be successful in learner-centric design is that no product is perfect at launch. No matter how much analytics we run or how well we know our learners, content always needs iteration. Hence, it’s important to establish a strong culture of feedback across the learning activities – in both ways. Naturally, you’re guiding the learners and their progress with personalised feedback. However, it’s equally important that you’re also collecting feedback from them. This helps you point out and define areas of improvement at both activity and content level. When learning content becomes redundant, the people who apply it in their daily jobs are the first to notice. When the delivery method of a program is not optimal, the learner is the one who suffers first.

To take it further, you can also use feedback to move to a more pragmatic needs-based approach to training needs analysis. Let the learners have a say on defining the needs and learning activities to be provided. This helps to get them the content they truly need, resulting in a natural increase in engagement.

If you’d like to get started with more learner-centric design approaches in your organisations, we can help you in providing personalised content. We can also help you onboard tools for social learning to develop that shared commitment in your workforce. Just contact us

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