4 Ways to Use Scaffolding in Corporate Learning

Instructional scaffolding in workplace learning

4 Ways to Use Scaffolding in Corporate Learning

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

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

1. Tap into and connect with learners’ prior knowledge

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

2. Break up content into digestible chunks

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

3. Give the learners time and opportunities to talk

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

4. Give the learners time and opportunities to practice

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

Final words

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

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Rapid Skills Acquisition – Can Employees Learn Faster?

Rapid skills acquisition - train your employees faster

Rapid Skills Acquisition – Can Employees Learn Faster?

No one becomes a master overnight in anything. But when considering the context of workplace learning, do we really have to become masters? In most cases, the answer is no. When we introduce new skills and competency frameworks in the workplace, the bar is not that high. As long as the employee builds adequate knowledge to do the job better, the learning departments is happy. So, let’s look at rapid skills acquisition – the art of becoming competent in the least amount of time. Here are some fundamental factors that are important in rapid skills development. Additionally, we’ll outline ideas on how you can use a multichannel learning strategy to support your employees in the learning process.

If you want to read about rapid skills acquisition in more detail, we highly recommend you to look up Josh Kaufman and his book ‘The First 20 Hours’, from which this article also borrows from.  Here’s his shorter TEDx talk.

1. Setting the scope and aligning expectations

Skills are often very complex. Rather than being a large unity that you learn at once, they are more often comprised of small sub-skills that you can pick up gradually. Thus, it’s important to narrow down on the very specific (often sub-) skills that you want to learn. If your scope is too broad or lacks focus, you’re spreading your time over too many topics. However, rapid skills acquisition and learning do remain a very personal effort. Thus, we should look into the ways of personalised learning rather than trying to define skill-sets and competencies as an organisation.

In addition, it’s also beneficial to have access to experts to help in benchmarking the skill development path. An expert can help the novice to set expectations: how much could and should they learn in a given time frame? What constitutes competency on the topic? What’s the required level for working proficiency? Thanks to the digitalisation, expert access is easy. If you have experts within your own organisation, you could connect them to learners e.g. via social learning tools. If they are outside, you could curate a pool of experts and provide access to their material.

2. Building a resource library and diving in deep

For rapid skills acquisition – like any kind of learning – you need a baseline of knowledge and theoretical frameworks. Hence, you should compile a small library of learning resources that support your individual scope and goals. Consuming expert and high level material from early on can help in identifying the right learning paths to follow. Also, it will likely help to reduce a lot of the mistakes related to “learning the wrong thing”.

In the context of organisations, you could provide your employees with learning platforms that use artificial intelligence to curate content. Based on his preferences, experience etc. the learner would get an automatically curated library of content. If your learning platform can’t do that, you could (besides contacting us of course!) build something similar manually. Vetting and curating content helps your learners to identify the proper resources, reducing their downtime and increasing efficiency.

3. Practice and spaced repetition is key in rapid skills acquisition

In terms of learning new skills, practice goes far beyond passive learning in efficacy. Think about languages for example. You are very unlikely to learn a language without speaking it. However, you can develop very fast through immersion, where you’re exposed to the language and practice on a daily basis – with little to no “passive” learning! Likewise, when developing skills in corporates, what we really should do is to practice. Ironically, that’s where a lot of the L&D fails on the impact side too. When there’s not enough practice, employees don’t apply the newly learnt on the job due to uncertainty of themselves. For practice, there are a lot of potential tools like learning simulations, immersions, virtual- and augmented reality etc. But the best practice of course happens on a real job.

When you’ve settled with the modes of practice, you’ll arrive at another important thing. Practicing spaced repetition is instrumental for rapid skills acquisition. So, instead of trying to get perfect all in one go, you and your employees should spread out the effort. This lets the brain process the new information and form new neural links – and the effect is incredible.

Indeed, employees can learn faster. They just need the right environment for it. And when it comes to practice, a solid 20 hours will get you quite far, just like Josh Kaufman demonstrates.

Would you like your employees to learn faster? If so, are you providing them the right kind of environment to succeed in doing so? We can help you, whether that’s in digital platforms, content curation or learning strategy. Just contact us.

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360° Training Immersions – Examples of Use Cases

360 Training Immersions

360 Training Immersions – Examples of Use Cases

With the introduction of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, companies are increasingly realising the opportunities in immersive learning experiences. However, neither quality AR or VR are yet at the reach of organisations with limited budgets. Both the hardware and software need to develop a bit further to achieve feasible economies of scale. However, the technology is already available for 360 training immersions requiring no dedicated headsets or other hardware. Thus, employees can consume this type of learning content on mobile as well as desktop, which increases learning accessibility and penetration. Furthermore, these types of 360 training immersions are cheap to produce.

Take a look at this example some of our staff put together while staying at a hotel.

Example of 360 Training Immersion

*Use full screen for best experience regardless of device, whereas if on mobile, tilt horizontally!*

 

 

The great thing about the 360 training immersions is that you can embed additional content within the immersion, similar to augmented reality. Text, pictures, videos, documents, surveys, navigation etc. The user can handle and access it all within the simulation.

What are the use cases for 360 training immersions?

For use cases, there are several where immersive experience could bring additional and needed flavour for otherwise sometimes dull topics. Some viable use cases include:

  • Safety training – Using immersions to help illustrate and visualise concepts related to fire safety, evacuation, emergencies etc.
  • Security training – using 360 tools to get staff acquainted with the security features of any facility, displayed as hotspots
  • Property management –  helping staff to visualise layouts, enable digital walkthroughs, and familiarise them with e.g. different tasks in a property using short videos.
  • Onboarding of new employees – how about introducing the new joiners to all the company’s offices and sites as well as new colleagues with an immersive experience?

Naturally, the use cases are only limited by imagination. 360 training immersions are becoming more popular due to increasing learning engagement and interactivity. But more importantly, they are cheap to produce and can be implemented with relative ease. Thus, even organisations with limited budget and a low-risk approach can use them.

So, can you figure out a use case for 360 training immersions in your organisation? We can help you to produce them, or just guide you to the suitable tools. Just drop us a a note.  

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Training Customer-facing Staff with Simulations

training simulations featured

Using Training Simulations to Develop the Competency of Customer-facing Staff

Great customer service wins and retains business. In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, it’s important that companies deliver great customer service across the organisation. However, customer facing roles face a lot of attrition and turnover, which underlines the need for effective training. Furthermore, the old ways of training delivery are proving either too expensive or simply inefficient. Instead of burying your customer facing staff with manuals on brand standards and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), you could do better. Training simulations are a great way to provide engaging, interactive and motivating customer service training for all front-line staff. And here’s why they work so well.

Training simulations mirror real-life scenarios

Training simulations are great thanks to their ability of mimicking real-life situations and decision-making scenarios. Instead of reading things out of manuals, the customer-staff can engage in an immersive experience. This helps to relate the training to their daily jobs, which in turn drives the behavioural change and increases learning application rates. Just like in real life, every action has a consequence. Some of the learner’s choices will make the customer happy, and some will drive them away. The learners need to utilise their own decision-making, prior knowledge and emotional intelligence to solve the simulation. Furthermore, we can make the training simulation work on two levels. First, the learner needs to make sure they adhere to the SOPs and brand standards. Second, they need to make sure they keep the customer happy with their attitude and responses.

training simulations
Training Simulations are a great way to train SOPs and EQ simultaneously.

Simulation-based training provides branched and trackable learning paths

In customer service, there’s always no right and wrong. As emotional intelligence (EQ) plays such a big part in the service process, it’s natural that approaches may vary. Training simulations provide almost endless branching opportunities, where learners move on the scenario based on their previous actions. And this is key for training the quick decision-making required in real-life situations. It enables us to keep up the staff’s creativity and problem-solving hunch by providing e.g. only “right” options. In the end, as long as the learners stick to the SOPs and provide good service, the means don’t matter. By allowing freedom of choice in their approach, we can help the learners maintain their personal touch to customer service situations.

Also, we can track and collect learning data on all the interactions happening over the course of the simulation. This means that we can follow the learning path of each learner individually and see what kind of choices they make. We could then use this data to get insights on the employees’ EQ and effort, which could correlate to the employee’s capabilities for more advanced roles. And with the data collected and insights produced, there is no need to formally test employees.

training simulations
The learner has 3 options to choose from, and each will produce different outcomes.

Instant feedback reinforces the learning and ensures SOPs are adhered to

Perhaps the greatest thing about simulation-based training is the amount of feedback that we can provide our learners with. We can address practically all possible situations and the best practices on approaching them and communicate that to the learner. This level of instant and constant feedback keeps the learner engaged and motivated. Their effort is recognised even though they might not have chosen the best course of action and we can encourage them to try again. Also, as there is not really “right and wrong” in many cases, we can point out the pros and cons of each approach. Perhaps the right approach in terms of SOPs would have been slightly different, but the learner showed good EQ and gets rewarded for it.

Furthermore, we can add a little bit of gamification and visual cues to ensure the learners are on track with their progress and keep striving for the best.

training simulations
The simulation provides the learner with constant feedback, praising for creativity and effort. Also, the learner earns points or stars based on decisions made, and can immediately see the customer’s reaction with the happiness meter on top right.

 

Have you tried simulation-based training for customer service and front-line staff? We can help you to produce effective and measurable simulations according to your SOPs and brand standards. Just drop us a note here

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Learning Simulations – Driving Behavioural Change

Learning simulations featured

Using Learning Simulations in Driving Behavioural Change

In today’s hectic corporate environment, the L&D professionals need to capture and engage the learners more than ever before. There are many different ways to increase learning engagement, but learning simulations have proven to be particularly appealing. As with all learning, the goal should always be to drive behavioural change. It doesn’t matter whether you’re training people on customer service, compliance or soft skills. If there’s no behavioural effect, learning has not translated to action, hence it has become as good as nothing.

Learning simulations have proven to be effective in driving these kind of behavioural changes, i.e. making learning stick. Naturally, all simulations are not created equal. Hence, it’s important to visit the fundamentals that make your training simulations effective and engaging.

Learning Simulations Mimic Decision Making Scenarios

Over the course of our daily lives, we learn through the mistakes we make. Whenever we make decisions that backfire, we (hopefully) take a mental note and refrain from committing the same mistake twice. Simulations provide a great way to explore the different courses of actions and their effects. And it’s really all about communicating the effects of different models of behaviour. None of us work inefficiently, mistreat people or provide bad customer service intentionally. Rather, it’s often that we don’t realise the effects of our behaviour. Through well-made simulations, we can better understand the effects our own behaviour has on our stakeholders, customers and colleagues.

Learning Simulations
Simulations provide a good way to train decision making scenarios, which can be linked back to company SOPs, guidelines and the “formal” part of learning. The learner will be directed onto different paths based on their decision in the simulation. 

Taking engagement levels up with comprehensive gamification

Naturally, a simulation is generally a type of gamified learning content in itself. However, by enabling more gamification across the board, we can keep our learners more motivated and engaged. You can build simulations that don’t necessarily a single set of right answers. Rather, there could be multiple possible paths to achieve the desired outcome, but with slightly varying scores. Sticking to the most preferred methods could yield more points, whereas other viable solutions could be awarded for the effort. By enabling a competitive environment between the learners through leaderboards and alike, we keep the learners on coming back in attempts to try to increase their scores. This creates repetition which in turn affects learning retention very positively.

Positive and Negative Reinforcement of behaviour through continuous feedback

As mentioned, behavioural change should be the primary goal of the learning content. To get the best effect, we should reinforce the desired behaviour and attempt to weed out the undesired. We can do this by enabling continuous and instant feedback. Whenever our learners make the desired choices in their simulation, we should acknowledge it. Similarly, when our learners choose undesirable ways of solving the situation, we should clearly communicate them their mistake and provide explanation on why the behaviour is undesirable. Furthermore, we shouldn’t limit our feedback to just words – visualisation never hurts!

Learning simulations feedback
Our learner has chosen an undesirable type of action. We inform the learner of his mistake and explain the effect of the behaviour. Now, the learner can go back and explore alternative courses of action. Feedback is both verbal and visual. 

Overall, simulations provide powerful tools for training for many areas. However, we need to keep in mind that constant and instant feedback is absolutely critical. Without it, the simulations can easily become ineffective and irrelevant.

Are you looking to explore learning through simulations in your organisation? Feel free to contact us with your problems, we’ll be happy to help you. You can also check out our partners who provide great tools for creating different types of simulations. 

 

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