How to Humanise Online Learning?

How to humanise online learning?

How to Humanise Online Learning?

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

Humanise online learning with peer interactivity

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

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

Make it about the people, share stories

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

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

Experiment with adaptive or personalised learning

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

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

Provide comprehensive and rapid support

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

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

Final words

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

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Problem-based Learning as a Tool for Innovation

Problem-based learning

Problem-based Learning as a Tool for Innovation

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

What’s problem-based learning all about?

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

The method as a tool for corporate innovation

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

How to do it in practice?

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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4 Service Design Methods for L&D Professionals

Service Design Tools for L&D Professionals

4 Service Design Methods for L&D Professionals

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

1. Service Safaris

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

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

2. Shadowing

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

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

3. Contextual Interviews

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

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

4. Co-creation

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

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

Final words

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

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Why We Need Design Thinking in Corporate Learning

Design thinking in corporate learning

Why We Need Design Thinking in Corporate Learning

Unless you’ve been living in a basement for the past few years, chances are you’ve heard of design thinking. While the term has become a buzzword, and all sorts of vendors have spawned to offer services within the space – some more ambiguous than others – the underlying ideas and concepts are something an L&D professional should not ignore. We though we’d explore those ideas and concepts, and give you our thoughts on where we see the value. So, let’s look at why we should use design thinking in corporate learning.

Design thinking (the way we see it)

To avoid unnecessary buzzword sprees, we’ll skip the text book definitions. (If you’re totally new to design thinking, Google is your friend!) Perhaps worth mentioning is that design thinking is often defined as a process, but we don’t think that always does enough justice to it. There’s a danger of oversimplifying things and too rigid processes are not something that necessarily benefit design work.

That being said, the core ideas and concepts that make the process valuable are its big emphasis on discovery, research and user involvement. These are followed by ideation, experimentation, learning from mistakes and iterating. If you’re planning to put the methods into practice, it’s good to understand what these might look like from an L&D’s viewpoint.

Why is design thinking important in corporate learning?

Fundamentally, there are no learning problems in businesses. All of it is first and foremost business problems. Sometimes, though, learning might be a valid solution. Furthermore, big challenge in corporate learning is rarely the knowledge delivery and acquisition, but learning transfer, i.e. whether people apply the newly learnt in practice. Keeping these in mind, let’s look at the different design thinking concepts and why they can provide value.

Firstly, proper discovery is really important. As mentioned, all the problems are business problems and learning is a solution to only some of them. If we bypass proper discovery and blindly offer learning whenever someone asks for it, we are not doing any good. Furthermore, discovery is important for the learning design phase too. If you want to have people apply the learning, it has to be easy. Hence, it’s critical to understand the context of the learners. Even good content will go to deff ears if you don’t understand the context.

Secondly, ideation as an open process should be something to go through, even if at small scale. A set time for open exploration enables L&D to look beyond their own immediate scope of work and identify potential solutions that are not necessarily about learning. This helps you get closer to what the people actually need, rather than blindly providing what you think they need.

Finally, experimentation is one thing that you shouldn’t neglect either. Small pilots, test runs and demos let you collect data and validate assumptions before moving onto large scale implementation. But whether you’re doing small or large, it’s important to continuously learn about how people engage with whatever it is that you’ve provided them with. Too often L&D are in a hurry to roll out a solution, but stop the work once the solutions is out. Great solutions are the products of usually multiple iterations, that are made based on previous mistakes and learning.

Final comments

Overall, design thinking as a method or a process is something that any L&D professional should be aware of. However, the key takeaway from it shouldn’t necessarily be any rigid process itself. Rather, we should aim to understand what makes these kind of methods a near necessity in building the workplace learning of the future. Also, understanding the philosophy of why it’s imperative to spend time on discovery, engaging with the users or constantly learning and iterating is important. Ultimately, L&D is about helping people succeed at their jobs and the business to perform better. Taking a design thinking angle to it might help to better address those issues.

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How to Enable Self-directed Learning in the Workplace?

Self-directed learning in the workplace

How to Enable Self-directed Learning in the Workplace?

Imagine an organisation where employees would proactively learn the things they need to perform and take charge of upskilling themselves for the future. Sounds like every L&D professional’s dream, doesn’t it? In fact, more and more organisations are exploring for ways to achieve some of that, even if with limited scope. On one hand, we’ve realised that the traditional organisation of L&D activities is not agile enough to respond to the rapidly transforming business environment. On the other hand, there’s also a lot of of talk about 21st century employees having to take charge of their own learning and development. This type of self-directed learning is certainly not a new thing for individuals. However, organisations still have a fair bit to learn in facilitating it.

So, let’s explore self-directed workplace learning in a bit more detail. Here are a few key pieces we think need to be in place for this individual-led approach to be successful.

Organisations need to allow time for learning

This may sound overly self-evident, but in fact is a fundamental consideration. While an added benefit of self-directed learning is the flexibility it provides, organisations can’t expect their employees to learn on their own time. Some employees of course likely will do that, but a large part of them won’t. Thus, it’s important to make it clear that learning is part of the work of every employee, and to allow time within the “office hours” for it. If the whole organisation doesn’t support the approach and promote a self-learning culture, the impact will be very limited.

Managers’ commitment is crucial in facilitating self-directed learning

One of the key stakeholders in enabling a self-directed workplace learning culture are the managers. As previously mentioned, the managers need to firstly commit to the fact that their employees will be spending some of their time learning. But that’s not quite enough. The managers need to also take an active approach in following up with the learners who are having difficulties or are not engaging. They should also take an active role in identifying challenges and guiding people towards the right resources. Some employees will likely require more elaborate coaching on what self-directed learning is, and how they should be going about it. After all, the approach doesn’t necessarily come naturally for everyone.

Organisations should offer employees resources and tools

One key part of a feasible self-directer learning strategy is the resources and tools that employees can use. Sure, Google, YouTube and similar platforms exist. However, expecting employees to search for information, assess its value and relevance is likely too much to ask. Especially if you’re only beginning the journey and people are not used to self-directed learning. Thus, it’s important to offer employees resources and tools to take charge of their own learning. These can be a variety of things. Many organisations nowadays choose to curate learning resources, rather than designing everything from scratch. With this, employees get access to material that has been already vetted, and they no longer need to spend time evaluating it.

Increasingly many organisations also offer their employees collaborative and social platforms, where employees can interact with each other. These can provide a valuable informal learning resource. Often, it might make more sense to just ask someone, rather than find videos or other material on how to complete a particular task.

Never try to force people to learn, but encourage them

Finally, this one is a major issue we regularly notice with organisations who attempt to execute self-directed learning. For some reason, organisations expect that they can become self-directed, while they still “direct” people by forcing learning. For instance, this can be requiring employees to complete learning activities, set deadlines or impose other kinds of rules. This is what many L&D departments are used to, but it simply doesn’t work if you want to develop a self-directed learning culture. We cannot force people to learn.

However, that doesn’t remove the importance of encouraging employees to learn. In fact, some studies indicate considerable performance improvements pertaining to self-directed learning. But only in cases where the learning is voluntary. As we’ve mentioned before, organisations should make their absolute best efforts in promoting that culture and committing to it. People won’t take up on it unless they see their superiors and the people around them showing commitment to it.

Final words

All in all, building a self-directed workplace learning culture is by no means easy. It requires L&D to relinquish some control and accept the fact that everything cannot be strictly administered. For many organisations, this sort of change likely represents total cultural transformation. However, if you want to become a truly agile and effective organisation, we see this as a necessary step along the way. If you’d like to explore ways of facilitating self-directed learning in your organisation, don’t hesitate to drop us a note. We can’t promise quick wins or guaranteed success, but we can certainly help you learn about what might work and what might not.

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How to Optimise Learning Experiences? 3 Advanced Methods

How to optimise learning experiences cover

How to Optimise Learning Experiences? 3 Advanced Methods

Good and effective learning is not just about the content. Rather, it’s the sum of content, user experience and fit-to-purpose that defines the success of a learning experience. Nowadays, as we develop digital learning experiences, we need to pay increasing attention to how everything works. Frankly, there’s a lot of factors to take into consideration. Luckily, the prevalence of digital and web-based tools brings us the capability to optimise learning like never before. Therefore, we summed up three different methods for optimising learning experiences.

1. Using A/B testing to discover the best design or content

If you’ve ever done digital marketing, or UX design, you’re probably familiar with A/B testing. The underlying idea of A/B testing is to try out two versions of a piece of content or design, and measure the response. To optimise a learning experience, we could for instance measure:

  • Whether a text element or video conveys the required information faster
  • Which typeface/colour scheme/structure creates the most positive response
  • Task performance after using immersive simulations vs. a conventional e-learning module
  • Ease of use of navigation and user flow between two different design versions

By comparing different options with each other in live use, we can get a lot of data. This enables us to optimise the learning experience and get a little closer to the best solution. However, while A/B testing is a good tool, use it wisely. You should always make sure you’re only testing one variable at a time. Otherwise, you can’t be certain of the contributing factors.

2. Using web analytics to optimise the learning experience

Just like with A/B testing, if you’ve been involved with marketing, you’re likely familiar with web analytics. Nowadays, as a lot of the learning platforms out there are in fact “websites”, we can leverage web analytics to understand how a particular platform is being used.

The most famous web analytics tool is probably Google Analytics. But it’s not really about the tool itself, but rather how to use the data it collects. Some traditional web analytics data that can be used to optimise learning experiences include:

  • Device information. How many of the learners are using mobile? What about tablets? Desktop?
  • Bounce rates. How many learners don’t go beyond the first page? Where do they exit?
  • Time of usage. When are learners engaging on the platform? Are they learning during the workday or on their free time?
  • Frequency. How many times have your learners visited your platform? Are they coming back?

All of these data points, and many more, help us to further optimise the learning experience. While these types of web analytics are handy, you may also consider xAPI compatible platforms and analytics. The advantage of xAPI is that whereas e.g. Google’s data is largely anonymised, xAPI lets you drill down to the level of individual learners, and all their interactions within the platform.

3. Using heatmaps and user recordings to understand the flow of the learning experience

A handy new tool in the analytics space is the “heatmap”. While these tools collect largely similar type of data to web analytics, they go slightly further. With these types of heatmaps and user recordings, we can find out for instance:

  • The scrolling behaviour of our learners
  • Mouse movements / taps / clicks
  • The “flow” within the page or learning activity

This type of information helps us to further address problem areas, as we’ll know exactly where the learners tend to pause (perhaps there’s an unclear explanation?), where they progress to (does it happen linearly or as intended?) and how they flow through the activity. For instance, you might find out that only 25% of the learners reach the piece of content you spent a lot of time on. In such case, you might want to rework the activity.

Final words

Learning design as a process is becoming much more agile. We can no longer justify developing large amounts of content or designing in a specific way without validating the assumptions with data. By working to optimise learning experiences, we ensure that learners receive the right resources in the right way, which greatly contributes to their learning success. While the above are great methods and tools for optimisation, you can do quite well even with more traditional means, e.g. surveys or focus groups. In the end, it’s all about getting the right data and letting it guide your decisions.

If you’d like to explore more agile or learner-centric ways of designing workplace learning, feel free to drop us a note. Let’s optimise your learning experiences together!

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Branding Your Corporate Learning – 3 Quick Tips for Success

Branding corporate learning - how to create a corporate learning brand

Branding Corporate Learning – 3 Quick Tips for Success

Employees nowadays expect more and more personalised company-provided learning experiences. They want activities that are tailored to them, rather than just access to no-name depositories of non-integrated content. This is where branding can play a big part. By branding your corporate learning, you can communicate and showcase to your learners that you value them. Furthermore, a good corporate learning brand can also improve engagement. So, here are three quick tips on how you can create a learning brand for your organisation.

1. Invest in your visual design

Visual design is incredibly important. Familiar designs not only create a feeling of safety, but they also help us to associate to a brand. Thus, investing in your visual design across the board is incredibly important. For instance, all your online learning platforms should carry the colours and signs of your brand. And no, just changing a logo on a platform is not enough, but rather you should look into a variety of things. Here are a few visual design pointers to consider when branding corporate learning.

  • Using consistent fonts throughout all text elements
  • Sticking to the brand colour template in everything. The colour palette should be wide enough to not make everything look the same, but also constricted enough to avoid creating a blur.
  • Using pictures of your organisation, people and locations instead of stock photos. If you don’t have any, get a photographer come over for a half-day, it won’t set you back much!
  • Using your logos, icons and company sigils consistently and holistically

2. Make it about the people and culture

There are two common denominators for great learning brands: people and culture. Whatever corporate learning you do, it should always be about the people. By helping them succeed and go forward, you’re creating value and building brand equity. Likewise, learning requires culture. Not only should you focus on building a learning culture, but your corporate learning brand should embed your company’s culture – otherwise it may seem distant, or at worst, pretentious. Furthermore, creating a feeling of social presence and togetherness helps not only in learning, but also adding to the company culture. Here are a few good practices to consider.

  • Give your people a voice – let them become active creators instead of passive participants
  • Highlight the successes of your people and let them become your brand ambassadors
  • Embed company values as well as cultural artefacts, “inside jokes” etc. in your learning experiences – don’t be afraid to have a little fun!

3. Communicate purpose

Like Simon Sinek says, start with the why. Communicating purpose is one of the most important, however often overlooked part of learning. Often, we just assume that our employees understand why they should engage in learning. But in reality, that’s not always the case. When branding corporate learning, you need to focus on making the case to your people. Why should they engage with your learning experiences? How does it help them in their jobs, careers or personal lives? Why is detrimental to the success of the company? If you answer these kind of questions well and upfront, you’re likely to see a higher uptake with your learning brand. Some practical things organisations have undertaken.

  • Short videos by senior leadership to communicate the importance of any particular training
  • Testimonials from employees who have participated before and benefitted from it
  • Clearly communicated, personalised goal posts, e.g. “this training will prepare your for a promotion” or “by learning this, you enable a lateral move to another team”.

Final words

There’s great value in creating a good corporate learning brand. A great brand promotes culture, creates a shared sense of purpose and enables people to take ownership of their learning. Like most good brands nowadays, the focus is not on the “product” but the people and how the brand aligns with the goals of the the individual. So, put your people first, be consistent, communicate well and deliver on your brand promises and you’re up for good things. And if you need help along the way, don’t hesitate to shoot us a message. We’re happy to help.

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How to Deliver Personalised Learning Experiences?

How to deliver personalised learning experiences?

How to Deliver Personalised Learning Experiences?

We have moved on to an era of personalization. One size no longer fits all (well, it never did…) and we’ve realized that. In our daily lives, everything is getting more and more personalized. And that’s increasingly the direction in the sphere of professional and corporate learning as well. While people are struggling with corporate training due to the lack of relevance and meaningfulness, they have also got access to many consumer grade learning services that offer highly personalised experiences. Having seen the greener pastures, people are nowadays looking to receive similar personalised opportunities in the workplace as well.

This naturally has become a challenge for corporate L&D teams as well, as delivering personalised learning experiences requires more effort than the one size fits all – approach. However, it’s not just a burden, as investing the effort required generally results in higher learner engagement and better results.

So, how should we go about all this? Here are a few fundamental concepts to consider for delivering effective personalised learning.

Personalised learning experiences should give control to the learners

Traditionally, corporate training and learning follows a top-down approach. There’s often a single, highly linear way of progressing through a course. Furthermore, there’s a tendency to pack simply too much content into learning activities to ensure there’s something for everyone. But none of this really works.

Rather, the learner should have much higher control on the what, how, when and where of the learning experience. Content should be personalised based on data, while providing omnichannel access to it. Furthermore, learning experiences should be “unrestricted” and non-linear, enabling employees to fill their knowledge gaps as they need.

Now, let’s look at a few important things in more detail and how to implement them.  

Let everyone learn at their own speed

We all learn slightly differently. As our experiences and prior exposure to topics varies by a lot, different individuals require different times to master a particular topic. While providing some kind of a time framework for learning progress is probably required, you shouldn’t control it too much. Let learners progress at speeds they are comfortable with, and provide them with the support they may need. After all, all jobs are different too and everyone doesn’t have the same time to commit to learning.

Stop pushing, focus on pulling

Mandatory is a dreadful word. Psychologically, making learning mandatory is not necessarily a good option. Unless the learning is truly great, and matches the needs and context of the employees perfectly, it’s likely that the employees feel you’re wasting their time. Hence, the learners don’t really learn and the L&D doesn’t get results.

Instead of ‘pushing’ content, organisations should focus on ‘pulling’ the learners to it. By making relevant resources available and known through data analytics, machine learning and recommendations, you’re putting the initiative on the learner. Thus, the uptake is of higher quality, due to the existing intrinsic motivation for the topic. By enabling choice, learning tends to also become more self-regulated, autonomous and continuous. It’s no longer a nuisance, but rather a meaningful medium of support for both the short and long term goals of the employees.

Align learning with employees’ objectives

Like previously mentioned, most of corporate learning fails because of lack of relevance. Employees don’t see the value in the training or realistic ways of implementing it at the workplace. Thus, there can be value in letting employees set their own learning objectives. Setting personal learning goals fosters ownership and responsibility. Furthermore, it also enables multiple definitions of success, instead of just the one “defined by the corporate”. After all, we learn for different reasons as well. Some are learning to climb the career ladder, some to enable lateral moves and some just to stay competent and up-to-date.

As you let the employees set their own objectives, you can also offer them personalised learning paths. People with different goals probably need different types of content and resources to tap into.

How does technology help in delivering personalised learning experiences?

While you can do a lot of the above even without technology, it certainly helps. Different learning technologies help to streamline the whole personalised learning experience delivery process. Advanced data capabilities available today help to ensure that the approach remains scalable, and minimal manual intervention is needed.

The leading platforms out there provide capabilities for curating personalised learning paths. They also provide ways of collecting learning data on an individual level. Connecting this with performance data gives an unparalleled picture of the individual’s learning and resulting effects in performance.

Final words

Personalised learning is not just a gimmick, but rather a topic requiring careful explorations. It not only helps to satisfy the demands of employees, but ultimately has the power to bring corporate learning activities to a whole new level of relevance and context, and consequently, results. So, start looking at your workforce as individuals with varying needs, rather than as grey mass represented by numbers on an excel file. And if you need help in that, or just someone to kick you in the right direction, we can help. Just contact us here.

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Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) vs LMSs – What’s the Difference?

Learning Experience Platforms and LMS differences

Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) vs LMSs – What’s the Difference?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a new product category emerge in the HR technology market. With the predicament that learning management systems (LMS) have not been very successful in delivering learning impact, the Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) have emerged to fill a need. However, from corporate L&D’s point of view, these two categories might seem very similar (an interesting observation on that later!). To clear some of the ambiguity, we decided to write up our own view on the differences between the two. We’ll also tie those differences back to potential use cases, depending on the state of your L&D ecosystem.

What is a learning experience platform?

First, however, let’s quickly define what the term means. In our book, LXPs constitute personalised open online environments with the capability to aggregate resources across a variety of sources to facilitate both formal and informal learning. They are also social platforms, leveraging on the employees’ intrinsic motivation and autonomous learning rather than a top-down “push” approach.

How are LXPs different from LMSs?

Although all the definitions of the product categories are slightly ambiguous, there are a few distinguishable key characteristics with the two.

LXP

  • Employee-driven
  • Open system, can accommodate outside resources
  • Personalised, adaptive learning paths powered by recommendation algorithms and AI
  • Enable participation and contribution by employees
  • Often enables curation-focused content strategy

LMS

  • Administration-driven
  • Closed system, difficulties in accommodating outside content
  • Defined, often linear and limited learning paths
  • Managed by the L&D, with little freedom for users to share their own knowledge and expertise
  • Often requires design-heave content strategy

Whereas the real appealing use cases of LMS may be limited to compliance training, LXPs enable a more holistic approach. These platform providers often invest heavily into user experience, which nowadays can be a detrimental factor in adoption. Furthermore, the platforms are much more learner-centric, focusing on the employee’s individual needs and learning requirements. This type of personalisation often helps to engage the users beyond the scope of mandatory training. Finally, LXPs also enable more curation (rather than design) focused approach to content, which enables L&D teams to do more with less.

Are LXPs going to replace LMSs?

Yes and no. While the problems of traditional (low engagement, difficult to manage) LMS systems are clear, they are still going to be around for a while. However, the advent of the LX platforms should be a wake-up call for many professionals. User experience, personalisation and learner-centricity are things that you can’t just brush off. These are, in fact, things that you should require even from your LMS providers.

However, LXPs don’t always allow for crucial things such instructors/trainers/coaches tracking, managing and assessing employees. At the moment, the offering for situations requiring complex set of business rules (certifications, expirations) is not quite there yet (although some companies are coming up with good solutions). Furthermore, as learning is going more into the workflow, it’s questionable whether these types of systems are the best to be deployed at such level.

Thus, the LXP often doesn’t yet replace the LMS but rather works in conjunction with it, e.g. by pulling internal content to the platform and passing on data. Some vendors are adding more LMS like features to their products (which is sometimes ironic, as the data capabilities of these platforms have often been far better than those of LMSs) to overcome the need to run multiple systems. For organisations who are making their first learning technology investments, it might actually make sense to look at some of the LXP providers who also deliver the required features for administering e.g. traditional classroom training activities.

Final thoughts

Overall, the direction of the market is clear. All the vendors have recognised the needs for more open systems and better user experiences. The inertia and the need to integrate with legacy systems will slow down some of the bigger players, whereas totally new entrants are able to develop truly innovative solutions from scratch. Besides the technology aspect, the marketing and sales departments of pretty much every vendor out there have taken up on the language. Unfortunately, we also see many companies who over-promise a fair bit (e.g. by introducing a barebone LMS with modernised UX as an “LXP”). Thus, a potential buyer needs to be careful when evaluating the different offering. So, vet the technologies carefully, and don’t buy all the promises of better tomorrow at face value.

If you think you need help vetting or selecting learning technologies, we are happy to help. Our experience with technology vendors enables us to cut through the clutter and find what works for your organisation. Just contact us here.

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3 Fundamentals of Great Learning Experience Design

Learning Experience Design

3 Fundamentals of Great Learning Experience Design

Organisations all around face a similar problem: traditional type of eLearning doesn’t really gather interest. Top-down, instructor-centric or content-centric courses don’t really promote engagement, let alone providing actual resources for people to improve their performance. To respond to these challenges, organisations are starting to look for ways to do things better. One area that learning professionals should understand to a great extent is User Experience Design (UXD). While applying the UX practices in the context of instructional design, we’ve come up with something called Learning Experience Design (LXD). While you can call it whatever you wish, we think here are 3 valuable cornerstones of LX that you should keep in mind.

1. LX Design focuses on the learner

The success of corporate learning doesn’t come from merely making information available. Rather, it comes from helping employees adopt new behaviours that enhance performance. Thus, the focus of learning experience design must also be on the learner.

You cannot expect all learners to reach the goal in the same way. The learners also have varying amounts of unique experience and prior context. Hence you should always aim to personalise the learning.

When done at scale, it may sometimes be handy to use tools like learner personas. Personas are highly detailed prototypes or models of learners. These profiles help LX design teams to create experiences that engage and appeal to different types of end users.

2. Usability and sensory experience is important

While understanding what kind of learning is required is incredibly important, it alone is not enough. Rather, it’s imperative that we also understand how the learning is used. The content, platforms and tools we use must all provide good usability. That means that they serve the intended purpose well and help the learners achieve their goals rather than hinder them.

However, the aesthetics are also vital. LX design also focuses on delivering visually pleasing, multi-sensory experiences. This can go as far as defining the tone of instruction, in addition to common elements like visual design of the learning materials or the aesthetics of a learning platform.

3. Learning experience design is never ready

Finally, a worthwhile thing to note about learning experience design is that it’s never ready. Rather, it’s all about constant collection of feedback and data, early testing of ideas, validating them and refining the approach accordingly. Learning content analytics provide a great way of doing this rapidly, seamlessly and at scale.

Especially in workplace learning, it’s important that we constantly observe our learners’ behaviours in the workplace. By understanding what happens in that application phase, we can design the learning experiences to be even better. To do this, LX designers should involve themselves deeply with the business. Likewise, they should be using comprehensive measures to collect data about the learning experiences they provide.

These fundamentals may seem slightly abstract, but overall they provide good guidelines and focal points on learning experience design. As we go along, these concepts will become more and more important. Disregarding the learning experience and simply making information available simply doesn’t work in terms of learning. If you’d like to give LX design a try, but not quite sure how to put it into practice, we can help you create design practices that fit your organisation. Just contact us here.

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