5 Tips for Designing Great Job Aids

Designing Great Job Aids

5 Tips for Designing Great Job Aids

As the 70:20:10 theory implies, a lot of learning in organisations happens outside the boundaries of formal training. While we often cater to the formal side, there’s a lot of other important use cases for learning. With the current speed of change in business, being able to up-skill people ahead of time becomes more unrealistic. Often, we just have to start doing faster, and hope that it goes well. But the inability to train people beforehand doesn’t mean we have to forgo training altogether. Job aids, for instance, are a great way of providing learning resources on the job. Here’s what you should take into account when designing them.

1. Simplify radically

One of the key characteristics of job aids is that employees engage with them within the workflow. To minimise disruptions to that workflow, we need to minimise the time spent querying information. Therefore, similar to the logic of good storytelling, job aids should be as simple as possible. Don’t circle around the topic, but dive right in. This is not a medium to display every single bit of knowledge either, but rather to provide concise information to help the employee with a highly specific task. Everything that goes beyond that or doesn’t support that goal is excess clutter, and should be removed.

While simplifying radically enables employees to find the information faster, it also eliminates the need to spend time on making judgement calls on what information is relevant. Therefore, they’re able to get back to peak performance faster.

2. Avoid excessive use of interactivity

In the general realm of digital learning, we often talk about the importance of interactivity. While interactivity is vital in creating engagement around the learning content, with job aids, it rarely serves a purpose. As the goal is to consume nuggets of information as rapidly as possible, any interactive elements, such as questions sets, exercises and the like just get in the way.

Instead, simplify the content also in this regard. Often the simpler the better. We should always choose content types based on their fit for purpose and ability to convey the information. Videos might be the best options for some material, whereas simple text and images might work for some.

3. Make it searchable

In most cases, these type of performance support resources are accessed via some kind of system. Accessibility is a big consideration in designing effective job aids. You can design great resources, but if we bury them inside a complex, layered LMS system, finding them might become too much of a burden. If we don’t provide employees with a seamless way of making queries and finding the right material from the library, they’ll quickly default back to Google and Youtube.

Therefore, it’s important to first of all make the content searchable. The nature of job aids entails that there’s going to be quite a lot of them. To enable employees to find the relevant stuff fast, you do need a search function. While identifying the right content is important, it might also be beneficial to be able to search for e.g. keywords within a piece of content, to locate the relevant information faster. If you’re doing videos, providing navigation buttons inside the video might make sense.

4. Make the user experience simple

As mentioned, employees often access job aids via a platform, tool or a system of some sorts. Whatever the system is, it’s important that the user experience is fluid, natural and easy to use. The experience must be intuitive, meaning that employees don’t have to spend time on learning how to use the system. The less clutter there is, the better.

Generally, performance support tools or job aid portals contain a much more limited set of features compared to conventional learning tools. If you’re implementing one, it’s a good idea to review out-of-the-box or “popular” features, and consider whether they’re actually necessary for this particular use case.

5. Understand the users’ context

Finally, it’s incredibly important to understand how the employees actually engage with tools like these. Often, but not always, these types of job aids tend to be consumed on the mobile. If that’s the case, you’ll want to focus on that as your primary medium, and employe best practices for mobile learning design. If the use case is more corporate office, you might see more desktop use, and thus have more “real estate” to play with.

Going beyond devices, it’s also important to understand the use situations, i.e. the learning opportunities in the workflow, in more detail. E.g. if employees are using job aid videos on a noisy factory floor, they might not be able to hear the sounds of videos. Thus, it may be necessary to provide subtitles and ensure that the information is conveyed even without narration.

Final words

Across industries, we are seeing a trend of looking beyond the conventional formal training when considering the corporate “learning mix”. Well-designed job aids are a great way of providing performance support and rapid learning within the workflow and on-the-job. Not only does this enable people to maintain better productivity, it may also make sense for learning too, as all learning gets put into practice right away, which tends to increase retention. If you’re looking into job aids, and think you may need help in designing them or implementing proper tools for them, we might be able to help. Just drop us a note here.

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

Onboarding on demand

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

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

The problems with most onboarding programs

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

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

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

How could onboarding on demand solve these problems?

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

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

Final words

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

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

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How to Use Chatbots in Corporate Learning? 3 Value-add Cases

Chatbots in corporate learning

How to Use Chatbots in Corporate Learning?

In today’s efficiency-driven business environment, organisations are looking to automate whatever functions they can. Consequently, corporate learning and development teams also face similar pressure to do more with less. Hence, we’ve seen a surge in both AI technologies and robotic process automation (RPA). One particular technology that has become highly popular is the chatbot. While chatbots don’t have to be artificially intelligent, most of them are. Powered by machine learning functions, these bots have the capability to learn from all interactions and refine their output accordingly.

But what are chatbots in corporate learning good for? Here are 3 ideas for delivering better learning experiences with the help of our virtual friends.

Using chatbots to reduce administrative workload

To enable effective learning, it’s important that an organization has a good learning support infrastructure in place. From answering learners’ queries about topics to technical assistance with digital learning platforms, there’s a lot to take care of. Often, these functions are neglected or are not capable of handling queries rapidly enough.

Bring in the bots. A corporate learning chatbot is a great way to handle most of this workload. A trained chatbot can easily answer most of the queries your learners come up with. Furthermore, it can also help on things like finding and locating learning content from within company systems and learning portals. It can also help to learners to enrol in relevant activities to them by presenting data-driven recommendations.

Using chatbots for onboarding and HR-related queries

Similar to the previously mentioned functions, organisations can also use corporate learning chatbots for onboarding and HR related purposes. Traditionally, onboarding is a process where organisations dump all the information they can assemble on their new employees. A lot of it might be totally irrelevant, and most of it will definitely be forgotten by the time the onboarding is over. So, how about delivering slightly smarter onboarding with a bot?

Instead of the usual information dumping, which results in a cognitive overload, a chatbot could deliver this information much more seamlessly – and at the point of need. Whenever a new employee encounters a problem, they could simply consult the chatbot. Whether it’s HR policies, compensation and benefits or even simpler questions like where the office water cooler is located, the bot can answer it all. Quite frankly, this type of virtual personal assistant could be of use to everyone, not just the new joiners!

Using chatbots in workflow learning

While the other two use cases concern primarily administrative functions, bots do have applications in the actual learning as well. Currently, a lot of the traditional type of corporate learning is becoming obsolete. Without the capability to demonstrate performance improvements, employers are less and less willing to lend their employees to sit through hours or even days of learning activities. Thus, learning is increasingly going into the workflow and that’s where chatbots are at their natural habitat.

Generally speaking, the most effective learning experiences are those where you can apply the newly learnt immediately. With just-in-time learning happening in the flow of work, that’s a natural occurrence. We query information rapidly, get information and execute. Hence, the memory effect generated is a much more significant one. Furthermore, this is a naturally occurring behaviour already. Without dedicated learning chatbots, we would do the same with our mobile phones on platforms like Google, Youtube or Quora.

However, the competitive advantage of the learning chatbot in workflow learning is the ability to deliver curated and highly contextual answers. When you do a google search, you’ll get millions of hits. But a company chatbot is able to tell you a specific way that the particular task should be executed. The answers may of course be included in your formal learning materials, but the problem is that employees can’t generally access them seamlessly enough. This type of chatbot-powered performance support resource is unmatched in accuracy, speed, scalability and user experience.

Final words

Overall, chatbots are a great tool to support many different functions in corporate learning. Firstly, the performance improvement possibilities and improved efficiency alone are compelling, but the bots are also a powerful source of data. For instance, analysing the interactions between your bot and employees could provide valuable input for a truly data-driven training needs analysis.

However, the best thing about chatbots is that they are flexible. Generally, chatbots can be implemented on any platform, as you’ll just need to feed them data. This makes them a low-entry-barrier addition even if you’re running expensive legacy learning systems. If you’d like to explore the possibilities chatbots or other digital learning solutions offer, we are happy to arrange a discussion. Just contact us here.

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Digital Coaching – Finding Value-add in a Traditional Space

Digital coaching

Digital Coaching – Finding Value-add in a Traditional Space

The traditional industry of business- and executive coaching is slowly embarking on a journey of change. Digitalisation is taking on another line of profession and causing a stir. While a lot of coaches believe strongly in the power of face-to-face (and don’t get us wrong, we do too!), unfortunately many seem to have totally neglected the changes in the environment around them. While corporations are increasingly careful in evaluating the value-add their vendors provide, they’re also looking to coach more and more people. Taking these two factors – namely the need to demonstrate results and scale up while keeping the offering affordable – into consideration, there could be opportunities for digital approaches. Here are some value-add cases we see for digital coaching.

Digital helps coaches to focus on what matters

Let’s get the easy ones out of the way, shall we? Like a lot of other digital technology, digital tools can also help coaches to reduce non-productive activities. Even in coaching, there’s a fair bit of administrative work involved. Maintaining records, scheduling sessions and producing reports don’t seem exactly high-value to a coach. However, that work needs to be done also.

Digital coaching tools can help coaches keep records accurate, accessible and transparent. A lot of the administrative workflows can be automated, enabling the coach to spend more time with the clients. Furthermore, the ability to produce meaningful reports on all things with a single click is something that you cannot achieve with traditional means. Good, clear and reliable reporting on progress and development will help the coach to demonstrate value to the client.

Delivering better interactions through digital coaching

Interactivity is a key part to the coaching equation. Not only do the clients expect you to be there for them at all times, but it’s likely very difficult to drive behavioural change “from a distance”. Overall, there seems to be value in more frequent and less formal coaching interactions. Digital tools can help to lower the barriers and enable constant access. Constant interactions between the coach and the client also enable a shift of focus from scenarios to real-world problem solving. As a learning experience, the latter tends to be a lot more powerful. Furthermore, this type of digital coaching also provides a new learning on-demand medium. The clients can reach out for information at their point of need and that’s when they’re at their most receptive.

On the other hand, why even limit the power of interactions to the coach-client relationship? While individual coaching is perhaps the most effective form of it, that’s not to say there’s no power in a group. As adults we learn through experiences and reflection – both our own and those of others. Therefore, interacting with one’s peers within a coaching group can provide a great learning opportunity on its own. And to facilitate these kinds of digital information exchanges and interactions today, there are simply no better tools than digital platforms.

Digital coaching provides an improved experience

In the end, it all really comes down to the coaching experience. Digital technologies have the power to facilitate that experience in a way that traditional approaches cannot. Also, the focus should be on the experience, rather than on producing a cheap version of something. Ultimately, there should be value-add to find for everyone, whether one’s coaching e.g. senior executives or sales agents. A simultaneous improvement in scalability, accessibility and user experience sounds like something the corporate clients might appreciate.

Of course, the opportunities don’t end there. While you’re at it, why not consider combining learning activities with group- and personalised coaching. Providing the clients with resources to support behavioural change after formal learning activities (think of performance support) is a potential high value-add area in terms of learning results. So, take a good look at your own offering and start considering whether you could deliver more value by adding some digital means to the mix.

If you’re looking to explore digital opportunities in coaching, ILT or learning overall, we can help you develop a great offering. Just contact us to get started.

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How to Use Learning as Performance Support?

Performance support learning and training

How to Use Learning as a Performance Support Tool?

Corporate learning today should pay much more attention to how it enables performance. While there’s a time and place for long-form learning activities, often we’re better off just learning by doing. Adults learn through experiences in contextual environments. Thus it seems that nothing beats learning experienced on one’s own job – or workflow learning. Meanwhile, formal experiences like classroom training and eLearning courses are giving way to more nimble approaches to delivering content. This is partially driven by learners who don’t see the value in sitting through hours of training just to forget things soon after. So, let’s take a look at performance support and how we can use it to learn on-the-go and help people perform better.

The shift from learning beforehand to learning on-demand

Many organisations tend to approach training the same way as schools and universities do, by trying to prepare the employees for everything. Unfortunately, the laws of retention and the forgetting curve are not on their side. The learning offering ends up being a lot of “just-in-case” rather than things employees really need and can apply immediately. In the end, the organisations waste a lot of time, money and resources to deliver learning that doesn’t translate into actions or gets forgotten soon after the fact. Wouldn’t it make sense to focus on what matters – performance – and gear learning towards that?

How to design performance support learning?

To understand how to design learning for performance support, let’s look first at how it differs from traditional learning. First, employees engage with performance support while working and don’t want to interrupt their flow. Secondly, the circumstances are less about learning new, but more about finding ways to apply the already known. Furthermore, whereas the goals of corporate learning may sometimes be bit ambiguous, the goal for performance support is clear: help to finish the task at hand.

Keeping that in mind, here’s a quick checklist on key characteristics of good performance support resources.

  • User-friendly – no one wants to spend effort in navigating complex systems when they need the information quickly.
  • Accessibility – employees must have access to the resources anytime, anywhere, regardless of the devices they have on them.
  • Short-form content – performance support resources should be quick to consume and concise (microlearning, anyone?).
  • Searchability – all content should be tagged, indexed and easily searchable, enabling the employees to get to it quickly.
  • Relevance – all content must be up-to-date, and relevant to the employees and their roles and functions. Don’t deploy “off-the-shelf” resources, but give solutions to problems specific to your business.

The bottom line

By giving your employees access to these kinds of tools, you’re assisting them in the most problematic part of learning – putting new skills into practice. Employees will surely value that, as you’re helping them to do their jobs better. Also, you’ll likely save up time on non-productive formal learning and keep the people at their jobs. That should have a direct bottom line impact.

Overall, a performance support approach to some learning activities helps to support the changes in the workplace. As skills, businesses and the environment change rapidly and constantly, it’s important for the corporates and employees alike to learn on-the-go. While this is not meant to replace all of traditional learning activities, it does provide a much better alternative for some of it.

Would you like to explore modern and more meaningful ways of workplace learning? We’re happy to share some ideas and hear about your challenges. Just contact us.

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How to Support Employee Onboarding with Digital Feedback Tools?

How to Support Employee Onboarding with Digital Feedback Tools

Supporting Employee Onboarding with Digital Feedback Tools

As far as learning experiences go, employee onboarding is a crucial one. At it’s best, a great onboarding process helps to form a strong relationship with the employee. At its worst however, it can just about drive them out. Naturally, organisations across the board are looking to streamline their onboarding processes – without sacrificing quality. In this regard, digital onboarding tools and methods can help a lot. However, unfortunately many organisations resort to just dumping information using the digital tools, rather than figuring out how to actually help the new hires. To really help the new hires up to speed faster, flow of information and feedback is critical. Thus, here are a few tips on using digital feedback tools to support employee onboarding.

The common problems in employee onboarding

Generally, we could classify the mistakes in onboarding to two categories: learning and non-learning. Learning mistakes, for instance, include spending too much time on formal training, forcing cognitive overload and a lack learning support or personalised learning. Often, onboarding is a highly standardised set of activities Non-learning mistakes, on the other hand, can include things like company phones or computers not delivered on first day of work, not receiving employee credentials and wasting time on non-working activities due to all the above. It’s not uncommon to hear horror stories where new employees spend days without the necessary equipment to do their jobs!

So, let’s look at supporting the two kinds of problems with some digital feedback tools.

Using digital feedback to support learning activities

Whenever you join a new company, there’s a lot to learn. As all individuals are different, organisations face a challenge of being aware and responding to all the individual learning needs arising throughout the the first few months. What could be the best way to perform a better training needs analysis on the new hires? Why don’t you ask them directly?

Digital feedback tools provide a great way of supporting employee onboarding and the learning activities involved. For every learning activity, you should collect feedback. In addition to impressions and suggestions for improvement, you can inquire whether the new joiners think they have received an adequate amount of training to do their jobs properly. If someone hasn’t, maybe you should have a personal discussion to solve the issue. If multiple people indicate they feel the need for more training, maybe you have to look in the mirror and figure out what’s wrong with your learning activities! And this is no rocket science. Simple likert scales work very well, as long as the data is real-time and there’s someone on the other end keeping an eye on the responses. As everything is digital, it’s also highly scalable and seamless to use.

Using digital feedback tools to support non-learning activities

While learning plays an important part in supporting employee onboarding, it’s the practical things that you should get right first. It’s rather easy to implement a similar logic as before to non-learning activities. For instance, you could construct a digital check-list for all the administrative activity (receive computer, phone, IT system credentials, lunch coupons, coffee mug etc.). At the end of day one, every employee would fill out a feedback form confirming that all of the above have been taken care of. If not, you’ll know right away and are able fix it. Once all the administrative hurdle is streamlined, you’ll find that your employee become productive much faster.

Furthermore, you can use digital feedback to collect some additional insights as well. In addition to simple receipt notices of equipment, you could poll the employees on their skills on them. “Now that you’ve received the computer, do you need help using it?” This will further help you to provide the new joiners the means to succeed and perhaps even adjust your training or the onboarding process itself. If you never ask, you’ll never improve!

Would you like to support employee onboarding with digital means? Drop us a note, and let’s see if we can help you help your employees.

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How to Support Classroom Training with Digital Tools?

How to support classroom training with digital tools

Using Digital Tools to Support Classroom Training

While digital learning has been growing and improving in quality steadily over the last several decades, classroom training still constitutes the majority of activities for many organisations. While digital learning will capture more and more market share due to the low efficacy and efficiency of classroom training, it’s certainly not going to replace all of it. For some topics, face-to-face is likely to remain the primary mode of instruction for a long time. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t support those activities with digital tools. Here are some examples of digital tools to support classroom training.

To make it easier, let’s divide training activities into three based on their sequence: pre-session, in-session and post-session.

Using digital tools for pre-work and activities before classroom training

One of the problem with traditional classroom training is that participants come in unprepared. Furthermore, the trainer often doesn’t know them, their learning history or performance beforehand. This results in lower engagement, lack of personalization and decreased relevance. But proper use of digital tools before the training session can help trainers to make the sessions as effective as possible.

For instance, a good practice is to do some pre-work activities online before the actual session. While not necessarily significant, they help the learners to prepare for the upcoming and adjust mentally. They’ll also be able to think about the topic beforehand and come in with questions and ideas. To collect ideas, expectations and perform more in-depth needs analysis, you can also use digital tools. For instance, online surveys, digital feedback tools and social platforms are a great way of engaging the learners before the session.

What should be the goal of pre-work activities?

Overall, the goal of pre-session activities should be to understand as much about the learner as possible and engage them beforehand. This enables the trainer to provide a much more tailored training experience. Organisations who already utilise learning data to support their decision making should also make the insights available to trainers.

How to use digital tools inside the classroom?

Once inside the classroom, it’s important to use the time for active learning instead of just delivering information. Luckily, there are a multitude of different digital tools to support classroom training activities and to activate the learners. For the purpose of this piece, we are gonna leave powerpoint and other similar presentation software out.

To start out, live polling is a good way to engage people. By asking questions from the audience through their digital devices, there’s less pressure to speak up. Rather, learners can send in their thoughts through their phones – even anonymously if required. The results and input can then be displayed to the group in the form of e.g. automatically generated graphs or word clouds. This provides the learners the ability to understand others’ perceptions of the topic, without the need for extensive classroom discussion, which may be difficult in some cultures.

In addition, you can use digital tools and methods for on-the-spot assessment as well. They are also effective in collecting live feedback and potentially even in doing peer evaluation. While these are some of the more concrete tools, you can also use a variety of digital media. Short training videos, puzzles and small games can be equally good in activating the audience.

How to use digital tools after classroom training?

The challenge with corporate learning is that it’s often too transactional, due to lack of resources and commitment. You can have a great trainer deliver a truly engaging session, but still the forgetting curve is not on your side. Usually, there’s very little follow-up and statistically, you’ll still forget most of the things discussed. To support learning retention and help those experiences carry over to long-term memory, digital tools come in handy.

In addition to the traditional assessment, which is most efficient to do online, you should also provide learning reinforcements. A spaced learning approach, in which the learners are exposed to small bits of content over a period of time to activate their memory tends to work quite well. Different microlearning activities also tend to lend themselves quite well for this type of use. And finally, like in any learning activity, it’s important to keep collecting the feedback for continuous improvement.

Overall, it’s highly beneficial to support classroom training with digital tools. You’ll not only understand your learners better, but you can also improve learning results thanks to the increased engagement. So give it a try!

Do you need help in building the right kind of digital support resources for your classroom training? Our articles on flipped learning and blended learning can provide additional ideas. If you’d like more hands-on assistance, feel free to contact us and we can develop an approach with you.

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How to Launch Learning Technology Projects Successfully?

How to Launch Learning Technology Projects Successfully

How to Launch Learning Technology Projects Successfully?

Learning technology implementations are quite complex projects, especially on a larger scale. In addition to all the technical and design work that goes into a project, you also need to manage and communicate with multiple stakeholder groups. While all phases of the implementation are important, and good stakeholder communication is imperative in every phase, the launch phase is the one L&D professionals tend to be the most anxious about. To help you in the process, here are some different ways to launch learning technology along with helpful tips.

A ‘Big Bang’ Launch for big projects

The big bang launch – a simultaneous organisation-wide rollout – is perhaps the “traditional” approach to launching learning technology. Before the launch, the implementation team works the technology to perfection. All content shall usually be available from the outset. Essentially, it’s about trying to build the perfect product, and only then launching it.

This type of approach may make sense for large organisation-wide implementations, in which there’s buy-in from the top executives. The big launch creates momentum which is detrimental in bringing all the employees on board.

However, this approach to launching learning technology is also a very high-risk one. There will be a lot of nay-sayers (as people, in general, are against change) who will use any flaws in the product to prove its uselessness. While you’re very unlikely to have a perfect product from the get-go, there are measures you can take to mitigate the risk. Firstly, it’s important to know your stakeholders thoroughly. Secondly, it’s important to ensure accessible and direct channels of feedback and support.

A ‘soft launch’ for learning tech may be more user-centric

Whereas in the big bang approach relies on a ready product to be delivered as-is, the soft launch method takes a bit more risk averse approach. In a soft launch, the learning technology is initially rolled out to a selected user group. When it comes to launching learning technology, organisations may often choose to soft launch the platform to the HR team or a particular department. While the approach is much more low-key, it’s also a lot less risky.

Similar to the big bang approach, communication and feedback are important. In fact, the fundamental idea of a soft launch is to gather user live user feedback, implement changes accordingly and ultimately, build the buy-in for the technology through that collaboration. And to gather feedback effectively, you should ideally get as diverse set of user reviews as possible. Thus, it might make more sense to incorporate users with various roles and functions into the initial soft launch.

How about an incremental launch of learning technology?

A third potential alternative to launch learning technology is the incremental approach. You could view it as a bit similar to launching a beta-version of a product. The initial rollout doesn’t have all the features nor all the content. For learning technology implementations, the incremental progression of features comes somewhat more naturally. As we are using more cloud-based products, the vendors are also updating more frequently. Key features should of course be available from the start, but not giving out a too complex system at the launch might actually make it easier for the users to adopt it.

When it comes to content, the incremental approach requires a bit of careful management. Firstly, the progression and scheduling of content needs to be planned carefully, with the most critical learning activities taking priority. Secondly, you should make sure there’s something for all users. Inviting people to a platform with no content useful to them is a good way of disengaging the user base. Thirdly, you should ensure that the whole launch support a gradual change rather than disrupting existing workflows altogether, as that’s a fundamental ideology behind the incremental approach.

Overall, no matter which method of launching learning technology you choose, communication is the key. Feedback before, throughout and after the launch is important. Moreover, you should strive for a learner-centric approach to the development wherever possible. In the end, that’s the best guarantor of success.

Do you need help or advise in launching new learning technologies in the workplace? We can work with you as an implementation partner, guiding you through the implementation process. Just contact us.

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Should You Do Customer Training – the Whys and Hows

customer training why and how to do it

Should You Do Customer Training – the Whys and Hows

As we discussed last week on our article about extended enterprise learning, the scope of corporate learning is evolving. Training your own employees is no longer enough, as the importance of other stakeholder groups has increased. Interestingly, customers have become a major training recipient for many organisations. While training organisations are naturally accustomed to training their clients, traditional companies may not be. Thus, let’s look at customer training, it’s benefits and how to do it.

The benefits of customer training show on your top line

Everyone who has worked in sales, marketing or business development knows that getting new customers is more expensive than retaining old ones. Thus, customer engagement and retention (the churn rate) has become one of the most looked after sales metrics.

A great customer training program can have multiple positive effects that are likely to contribute to your top line:

  • Increased customer engagement – people and buyers are interacting with you outside the immediate transactional scope
  • Improved customer competency – customers who know how to use your products or services to their full potential are happy customers
  • Increased brand engagement – buyers are nowadays looking for brands they can identify themselves with. Customer training programs give you a channel to communicate your brand and values.
  • Better conversion rates – nowadays many buyers base their decision on the level of support services offered. Training programs are a great medium of customer support, enabling independent and self-directing problem solving.

Overall, there seems to be a lot going for providing learning experiences to ones customers. And don’t just take our word for it – have a look around! Most technology companies and many traditional businesses have such training programs in place. Some have even developed their own separate business models around it.

How should you do customer training?

Naturally, training your customers is a slightly different than training your employees. While the same principles of learning still apply, the primary difference comes in motivation. The reasons why your customers take up on your learning may be quite different from your employees. To make things simpler, we can divide training into two kinds:

1. Customer onboarding and performance support

Whenever someone buys from a product or a service from you, you should strive to get them up to speed fast. Especially with complex products and solutions, developing the main users’ competency is important. Hence, a customer onboarding training might be a worthwhile consideration.

Regardless of the complexity, you should always provide your clients with performance support resources. These can range from training programs to newsletters to online communities and everything in between.

2. Customer training as a branding & sales tool

Whereas onboarding and performance support deal more with customer retention, training can be used in client acquisition too. Many organisations use free online training offerings, e.g. courses, webinars and videos to grow their pipeline. Every touch point is a chance to deliver more information that may lead to a buying decision. In an era of global competition, potential customers are much more likely to remember you after taking your course or attending your webinar.

Likewise, people like to buy from brands they can identify with. Training programs let your organisation to spread its core message and demonstrate its values. Training topics that could enhance your brand image may include e.g. sustainability, self-development and social responsibility.

How does training customers differ from training employees?

Like previously mentioned, the primary difference between employees and customers comes in motivation. Whereas your employees may sit through uninteresting training out of obligation, your customers won’t. Thus, it’s important to offer great user experiences and engaging learning materials. Thankfully, the learning technology space has a lot to offer in that department.

Are you looking to develop a customer training program but not quite sure how to go about it? Feel free to drop us a note, and we’ll do our best to help you.

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Benefits of Instructor-led Facilitation in Online Learning

Instructor-led facilitation in digital learning

Benefits of Instructor-led Facilitation in Online Learning

When transitioning from offline to online learning methods, organisations tend to overlook the role and value-add of the instructor. While the underlying reasons for digitalisation of learning are often related to scalability and flexibility, efficacy should not be forgotten. Generally, self-paced learning forms a major part of the online learning delivery. However, in many cases, the engagement rates and learning results leave a lot to be desired. Hence, we are seeing more and more blended learning and other hybrid approaches take form. In the interest of improving learning results while retaining scalability and flexibility, instructor-led facilitation is a great approach. Here are a few key benefits and ways of making the most out of instructor-led facilitation.

Instructor-led facilitation of discussions among learners

Just like in the classroom, a lot of the power of instructor lies in their ability to facilitate discussions among learners. As learning is fundamentally a social experience, discussions are very important. Not only do they seem to increase learning retention by a wide margin, but they also help learners to expose themselves to new thoughts. This consequently helps them to reflect and improve their cognition of the problem or topic at hand. Ultimately, this should result in increased social presence and more comprehensive understanding of the learning.

Thus, organisations should enable their trainers to become champions of instructor-led facilitation. Having access to different features of social learning platforms can help a lot in this regard. You may even adjust the mix of learning towards less content and more discussion. While this helps to avoid learners’ cognitive overload, it also helps to increase efficiency. Often in corporate learning, the problem is not the width but the depth. An approach like this helps in just that.

Delivering the right amount of ‘Push’ to keep learners engaged

While ‘pushing’ learning content may not usually be the best approach, a ‘push’ from a learning management perspective can prove valuable. From time to time, learners may drift away from the intended schedules and goals. In a sheep herder like fashion, one goal of instructor-led facilitation should be to bring these learners back to the fold. However, the approach should not be forceful. Rather, the facilitators should engage the learners and figure out why they’re not partaking in the optimal manner. Once you understand the root causes of why learning engagement is decreasing, you can adapt your delivery to solve those problems.

Digital platforms provide a lot of opportunities in delivering the discreet ‘push’. At large organisational scales, you can automate a fair bit of it, and even deploy artificial intelligence tools to aid. However, there’s value in the personal approach too, which should not be blindly dismissed.

Instructor-led facilitation as a medium of learning support

Finally, the third major benefit of an instructor-led facilitation approach is support. Like in traditional instructor-led settings, learners clearly benefit from the ability to ask questions. This means providing a platform for learners to engage with the instructor when having problems; not understanding content, goals or responsibilities. All learners are not comfortable in posing questions publicly. Furthermore, many learners may rather just leave it be, rather than going out of their way to ask the trainer. Hence, it’s important to provide a seamless and fluid way of teacher-student interaction. This way, you’ll ensure that learners don’t give up too easily.

Here are a few examples of learning support tools and mediums that may help you.

Do you need help in enabling social interactivity in your digital learning delivery? We can advise you on technological tools as well as methods of incorporating instructor-led facilitation in your online learning. Just contact us here

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