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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Responsive Design in Mobile Learning – 3 Tips for Better UX

3 Tips for Responsive Design in Mobile Learning

Responsive Design in Mobile Learning – 3 Tips for Better UX

Professional learning is increasingly happening on the mobile. While learning that is happening via devices, be it desktops, tablets, televisions or mobile phones often gets labelled as just “digital” or “eLearning”, we might be better off thinking of the various mediums more granularly. Due to the limitations and restrictions caused by e.g. screen size, we cannot simply expect the same type of design to work for all the devices. Responsive design has emerged as a solution to that problem. However, simply using a responsive and automatically adjusting layout is not enough. Hence, we’ve compiled three tips for using responsive design in mobile learning. Let’s have a look!

1. Don’t overkill with interactivity

Looks like we barely made it to the first item and we are already contradicting conventional wisdom! Shouldn’t all learning contain as much interactivity as possible?

Well, no. Firstly, you should never use interactivity for the sake of being interactive. Rather, you want to make sure that the learning interactions actually contribute to the experience. Secondly, we need to carefully consider the peculiarities of mobile use if we want to deliver successful responsive design in mobile learning.

For instance, whereas on the desktop, having the learners “click” through objects is a widely used mode of interactivity, it doesn’t really work on the mobile. Rather, such interactivity in responsive mobile learning should be based on scrolling and swiping, two “natural” behaviours on mobile. Also, due to the smaller screen real estate, you don’t want your learners to have to jump through hoops and constantly open or launch new pieces of content.

2. Optimise your media and graphics elements

Another important factor to take into account is the use of media, graphics and visual elements. Generally, mobile devices are not great mediums for focused, extensive reading. Hence, we often tend to look at visual ways of conveying the information. However, there are a number of things to consider with visual elements when it comes to responsive mobile learning design. Here are a few you should keep in mind:

  • Optimise your file sizes. Mobile often goes with limited bandwidth, and increased loading times will get your learners dropping out.
  • Use simple graphics. Don’t attempt to include all the information in a single graphical illustration. This will often result in something that the learner has to zoom and manoeuvre about. Also, try to keep text out of graphics that are going to be scaled, as the text becomes illegible very easily.
  • Use icons, breaks and white space. Icons are great in communicating many things, e.g. navigation, context, sections or instructions. Breaks help the learner to pace the content and avoid “scrolling too fast”. White space works equally well in that, and also helps to balance out the design.

3. Design intuitive UIs and navigation

If we want to be successful in responsive mobile learning design, we also need to focus on UIs and navigation. Whenever our learners are spending time navigating complex structures or trying to find the information they are looking for, they are not learning. Thus, we should make finding and retrieving information as fluid and seamless as possible.

What’s fluid and seamless then? Firstly, you might be better off following the prevailing “logic” and “flow” of everyday applications. It gets very irritating when navigation elements like “previous”, “next”, “exit” or “play” are not in their “common” places. And you probably don’t want to make your learners frustrated. Furthermore, when it comes to mobile learning, it’s important to acknowledge the screen size limitations once more. Due to the small field of view, it’s much harder to quickly find new elements, compared to e.g. desktop, where one can see a lot more at once.

Final thoughts

Responsive design in mobile learning definitely proposes an extra hurdle for organisations, as they have a lot more to consider when designing digital learning. However, it’s a hurdle that one really can’t ignore. We haven’t seen any organisations that have ignored the need for responsive design and “mobile optimisation” and succeeded with their mobile learning initiatives. If this sounds entirely foreign to you, we are happy to help you understand the peculiarities of mobile, and to deploy effective learning initiatives utilising mobile devices. Just contact us here.

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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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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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Practical Tips for Writing Online Learning Content

Writing online learning content

Practical Tips for Writing Online Learning Content

Studies have found that the ways we consume and read content on our devices is different to our way of reading traditional documents. While we are using more and more interactive formats of learning such as videos, animations and simulations, sometimes text based elements are the best option. While this post focuses on learning content, the same principles apply to all web writing. First, let’s take a quick look at how people engage with online texts and then move to practical tips for writing online learning content.

How do our learners read online text content?

In their study on internet reading habits, Nielsen Norman Group found that people don’t actually read online texts. Rather, they glance and skim through them. When opening online content, such as a website or a learning module, learners first skim through the text quickly and then return to whichever part seems interesting. Thus, it’s highly important that you make your content skimmable and easy to read. Now, here are some tips on how to put that into practice and write good online learning content.

Write better online learning content with these practical tips

Here’s a list of the most important aspects of writing web-based content.

  • Don’t use uppercase in the body of the text, headings or titles. Only very short individual words can be written in all capital letters.
  • Don’t bold, italicise or underline full sentences. You should only use highlighting for individual words and names, as using too much will decrease efficacy.
  • You should always format sub-headings as heading, rather than simply bold them.
  • Always use list elements to write lists, no dashes.
  • Don’t use consecutive 1-3 row paragraphs, but try to combine them into 5-12 row ones.
  • Always align all text and headings to the left. Never justify online texts.
  • Don’t display long URLs, but rather use descriptive links or graphic buttons to direct attention.

If you follow these guidelines for writing online learning content, your content will likely look good on all devices from smartphones to desktop computers. By catering to your learners’ online reading habits, you can help them to digest information better. Furthermore, if you’re writing content and want it to be found easier (for instance, if you’re marketing online learning), these tips will also help you with search engine optimisation (SEO).

If you’re looking to develop online learning materials or find ways to improve both user experience and retention, we are happy to share ideas. Just contact us.

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Learning Technology Implementations – 3 Mistakes to Avoid

Learning technology implementation - 3 pitfalls to avoid

Learning Technology Implementations – 3 Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to learning technology implementations, a lot can go wrong. If not careful, you might be investing a lot of time and resources into something that ultimately doesn’t work. Sometimes, it might be that the vendor has oversold you and fails to deliver. But equally often it might be due to lacklustre internal preparation for the project. Here are three common pitfalls to avoid when implementing learning technologies in the workplace.

1. Not choosing the right technology

The first step to get right in a learning technology implementation is the technology selection. Unfortunately, it’s also a step where a lot of organisations get it wrong. Sure, the market is a big one (you can choose from more than 5-700 different products) and it may be hard to navigate through the aggressive sales pitches of the vendors and to really understand the capabilities on offer. It’s also very easy to resort to systems that someone in the company has used before, but that type of thinking doesn’t really set you out for the long term.

So, when it comes to learning technology implementations, the first thing to understand is your own organisation. What’s the business problem you’re trying to solve with the technology? Who’s going to be using the solution? How? Once you’ve carefully defined the problem, it’s a lot easier to see the potential solutions among all the rest.

It’s important to get the technology right, but it’s also important to find the right expertise to support the project. Technology vendors may sometimes lack a holistic understanding of the use of learning technology, as they’re solely focused on pushing their own product out there. In such situations, it might make sense to bring in an outside learning consultant. The consultant can provide the much needed expertise in digital learning, which helps to get to actual learning results.

2. Believing in “build it and they will come”

The “build it and they will come” belief is one of the longer standing myths in learning technology implementations. However, the belief that once a system is out there, users will automatically engage with it is just utter nonsense.

In reality, you first of all have to know your users; how the technology can help them, save their time, make them more efficient and so on. Naturally, if you haven’t known this already, you might have ended up with a wrong technology altogether. Secondly, it’s important have engaging, interactive and interesting learning content (here, here and here are some tips for that). Thirdly, getting your employees or users to adopt a new system will take a good amount of internal marketing and communications.

3. Locking yourself into a vendor relationship

As mentioned, a lot of learning implementations fail – and many for reasons not even listed above. If a project fails and you’re not getting the results you want, you should probably look at cooperating with other providers. Thus, the worst disservice you can do to your own organisation is to lock yourself into a vendor relationship. Lengthy, often fixed contracts are obviously what the vendors prefer, and in exchange you may score a discount on the license fees. However, if you want to switch providers after a year of failed efforts but are committed to five years, you’re out of luck.

Thus, we would encourage companies to work with vendors who appreciate flexibility, and that their product might not always be the best. Cloud-based systems and software-as-a-service (SaaS) models are very commonplace nowadays. In fact, if vendors insist on long, fixed contracts, that should perhaps be a sign of caution. As in if the product is as good as they describe, a flexible SaaS solution would be more profitable for them as well.

Overall, there a lot of ways a learning technology implementation can go wrong. Here are some of the usually overlooked ones. Hope they help you in your learning technology projects.

If you think you could use outside expertise in your learning technology implementation, we are happy to help. Our engagements cover both technology selections and digital learning advisory. Just contact us to set up a meeting.

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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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Towards a Modern Learning Culture – Enabling Digital Transformation

Modern corporate learning culture

Towards a Modern Learning Culture – Enabling Digital Transformation

With the current pace of change in the business environment, learning has become a major factor determining organisational success. While businesses – and learning and development in particular – are going through digital transformation, learning culture has emerged as an organisational success factor. Organisations that are learning at the speed of change are much more likely to survive in the hyper competitive environment. Therefore, we wanted to share some of the cornerstone elements of great learning cultures. While adoption of new technologies into the flow of learning remains important, there’s limited success to be had without a modern, agile learning culture.

A great organisational learning culture needs the whole organisation

Great learning cultures don’t emerge without buy-in and commitment from all levels of the organisation. It starts from the leadership. Signing off on projects and writing checks for the L&D team is not enough. Rather, the leadership must become actively involved in the learning processes and champion change initiatives. Furthermore, it’s important to integrate learning into the workflow and day-to-day operations. This requires commitment from the line managers. Finally, you need the employees to actually take advantage of the learning opportunities you provide to them.

But how would you go about accomplishing this? Firstly, a data-driven approach to learning should help you to link learning to performance, communicate its importance and secure commitment for learning from your leaders. Secondly, learning analytics will also help you to communicate the behavioural impact on people to line managers. If you demonstrate that you can make operations more efficient through learning, you won’t have a hard time securing commitment. Finally, you can work to ensure learning uptake by your employees through collaborative approaches. Switch traditional top-down learning design methods to more learner-centric ones. A great learning culture should attempt to provide personalised learning opportunities to each employee.

Great learning cultures embrace inclusivity and equal opportunity

If organisations want to truly engage their employees with learning, they should adopt an inclusive approach to it. By providing inclusive and equal opportunities of learning for all employees, regardless of their place in the organisational chart, you are making a big statement. Instead of treating learning as a pastime of a select few, you’re letting your people know that they’ll have all the opportunities they need to develop within the organisation.

Naturally, it’s not feasible for commercial enterprises to sit their employees in training on a free-for-all basis. However, digital learning delivery provides a great way of giving everyone equal access to learning – without jeopardising productivity. Thus, the employees who want to develop themselves can do so, at their own time and pace. A commitment to opportunities across the board goes a long way for developing a great learning culture.

Empowerment is key for all learning initiatives

If you don’t empower your employees, you’re not going to stay competitive. That applies to learning and development as well. There are two primary means for empowering your learners to succeed.

First, you need to start curating learning on your employees’ terms. All organisations engage probably engage in some sort of training needs analysis. Yet, only very few really make their employees a part of the learning process at the design stages. Failing to do that usually result in learning interventions that are of questionable relevance, and may even fail to address the real problems. Hence, we highly recommend adopting a co-creation approach to learning design. Make your employees an integral part of the process; use their expertise, subject matter and knowledge of the day-to-day jobs to design truly impactful learning experiences.

Second, the perhaps even more important factor to learning culture is making sure your employees can also apply the learning. When advising companies on learning transformation, we’ve found out this is a problem that not even many organisations are aware of. They may be producing very high quality learning experiences, but the employees may remain unsatisfied. When surveying the employees independently, we often find out they feel they don’t have reasonable means of applying the things learnt. This could be due to corporate culture, lack of line manager commitment, office politics or fear of going out of one’s comfort zone. That’s fundamentally an appalling situation, since no matter how the L&D team tries to twist it, there’s just no learning ROI.

Conclusion

Overall, the learning culture of an organisation is at the core of determining the success of learning- and digital transformation. To us, the importance of culture even exceeds that of the learning technology stacks. You may invest in all state-of-the-art tools, but if you don’t empower and engage across the organisation, you’re likely not to see much in terms of results.

Are you aware of the real barriers to learning in your organisation? Do you need advise on digital transformation of learning or nurturing a learning culture? If yes, feel free to contact us for consultation.

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Marketing Corporate Learning Internally – Best Practices

Marketing Corporate Learning Programs Internally

How to Excel in Marketing Corporate Learning Internally?

Nowadays, we in the corporate learning field are fighting for employees’ and stakeholders’ attention. Due to their busy schedules among various other factors, employees’ need a bit of a pull to embrace learning opportunities. This is especially true for voluntary programs. So, how do create that pull? How do we convince the learners that the programs we provide are worth participating in? This is an area in which L&D professionals should look into the field of marketing. To help you get started, we’ve compiled here some best practices on marketing your corporate learning internally.

Using key opinion leaders to spread your message

One of the current trends in marketing is the use of well-known influencers to deliver and reinforce your message. For marketing corporate learning internally, you should likewise look into your organisation. Firstly, identify the individuals who your employees perceive as key opinion leaders within their teams, units or the business as a whole. Then, engage them to help you deliver the message. It can happen with word-of-mouth, social media, or on other mediums. Once the employees see the internal influencers vouching for the learning, they are likely more inclined to partake.

Leveraging user testimonials in marketing your corporate learning

Another highly leveraged tactic is to employe user- and peer reviews of content. Recommendations from one’s own personal network constantly top the ranks for the most effective way of user (or consumer) behaviour. Therefore, it makes sense to leverage them in marketing corporate learning as well. Your learning tools or learning management systems (LMS) might already come with possibilities for user reviews and recommendations on content. If not, you could also leverage internal social media or workplace productivity tools to display ratings, testimonials and reviews. Additionally, enabling users to rate content can tremendously help the L&D team to identify the most sought-after training topics.

Engaging line managers for focused promotion efforts

Further, as more and more learning happens in the flow of work, it’s important to engage people in the daily context and environment of work as well. Engaging the line managers who oversee the people on a daily basis is a good idea. Hence, consider spending a bit of time with the line managers to make them aware of what kind of learning activities there are on offer, as well as their benefits and relevance to the team in question. Once you’ve got the line managers on your side, things happen a lot smoother, as people tend to listen to recommendations from them. However, remember that the learning activities have to be efficient. You’re effectively stealing people from the line managers and taking them away from productive work. And quite frankly, most managers don’t seem to like that. So make sure your learning is delivered as efficiently as feasible.

Communicating the learning benefits clearly

Finally, a key factor in getting all of this right is communication. If you wish to be successful in marketing corporate learning programs internally, you need to communicate well. This is especially true for communicating the benefits of the learning to your employees and stakeholders. At this point, we often advise to steer away from the learning objectives. Because no one really cares. As much time as you’ve spent honing the learning objectives, the fact is that they’re irrelevant to most of the audience. The employees are looking for “what’s in it for me”. That’s one of the questions you should be answering; how does this learning program or activity benefit them personally? How about professionally? What kind of opportunities can this learning unlock for them in the organisation?

Following these steps, you should expect an uptake in your learning participation. However, a detrimental factor to remember doing this – like any marketing – is that you must deliver on the promises. If learners don’t like the learning activities or find them meaningful, there’s little you can do. Hence, make sure that you’re doing the best you can in developing engaging learning. A learner-centric design process can help tremendously in achieving that.

If you feel like you could use help in marketing corporate learning internally, we are happy to help. We can also assist you in developing more learner-centric design processes. Just contact us to find out more. 

 

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User-Centred Learning Design – Using the 5Di Model

User-centred learning design 5Di

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

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

The 5Di User-centred learning design model

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

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

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

1. Define

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

2. Discover

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

3. Design

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

4. Develop

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

5. Deploy

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

6. Improve

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

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

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

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