Innovate, Collaborate and Disrupt
Today’s learner wants individualized training, and wants it to be accessible, immediate and relevant. In a “24/7” world, people are constantly online – constantly connected to a device and close to an access point. We don’t want to wait because we don’t need to wait. Training can happen when we have the time, which can be at any time.
Move out of the classroom. Humans are still social creatures, even if we’re socializing in new ways. Making training short, sharp and relevant doesn’t mean it can’t also be interactive and collaborative. Many of us – from all generations – use multiple devices every day: smart phones, tablets, laptops and fitness trackers, and many of us will be quick to adopt whatever new gadget comes out next week. Companies can harness the power of technology culture to improve their learning efforts by curating the right content, finding the right format, and delivering it in most effective way.
Curating the right information is key, getting down to what matters and matches the company’s strategy and priorities. It’s no longer acceptable to send people to an open database with thousands of pieces of learning content. People will turn that system off. If you want your learners to know something about the business, in context and right now, then dial in on the right content and present only what they need to know. One fascinating impact the rise of technology has had on learning is that even the learners can help curate and promote quality content. In the same way Amazon and Netflix help us decide what to buy or watch, your learners can help maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of a learning strategy.
While technology allows us the opportunity to be more creative and innovative in building and delivering the best learning experience, it also allows us to better track that experience and use the data to improve both the individual and the business.
Some traditional challenges remain, like budgets and C-Suite support for implementing new technology, but learning executives are aware of the disruption in their space and the need to embrace it. Companies are beginning to move from traditional training methods to state-of-the-art, employee-centric learning. In order to do that, they are also considering generational differences in their L&D strategies, how learning aligns with total career management, and how that can better align with their big picture for recruitment, retention and succession planning. It’s all connected. Or, at least, closer to being connected due to new and emerging technologies.
One thing is clear: disruptive eLearning is about helping people develop quantifiable, practical and long-lasting skills. It is not about passing a multiple-choice quiz. It is about creating real behavioral change. Individual success is the cumulative result of day-to-day decision making, and team success is driven by the decisions of individual team members. Today’s eLearning is designed to be decision-driven, so the information is truly internalized and more effectively translated to action. When learning improves, a company improves.
Disruptive Learning Strategies
There are several options when considering a disruptive eLearning approach. Here are some ideas based on what successful companies are doing in their learning programs right now.
Social creatures by nature interact, share, and observe. As such, it also plays a major role in our learning. The influential psychologist Albert Bandura, Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University, is known as the originator of the Social Learning Theory. Bandura’s theory is made up of four requirements: observation, retention, reproduction, and motivation. Now, technology allows opportunities to implement all four in eLearning.
Video, even YouTube tutorials, present a powerful opportunity for expanding learning through recreating experiences. Virtual classrooms offer even more options for real-time teaching, and technology continues to advance methods of creating interaction and collaboration. We can text, instant message, or exchange short videos as legitimate communication, but we can also socialize and learn.
As previously acknowledged, video can increase learner engagement. It is adaptable for various audiences and generations. It can effectively deliver relevant information in two minutes or in 20 minutes depending on the audience. And, it’s mobile. Companies like Coca Cola Beverages Florida are using internal video production as a key component of their training programs. Instead of sitting in a classroom and hearing about a task, method, or policy from their HR representative, they are watching a successful salesperson or logistics manager put those practices in to action and explaining them in their own words. It is more approachable, relatable, and retainable.
This is where it all really merges: social, video, mobile, and gamification. Global workforces and increased mobility have Millennials and Generation Z demanding their training be mobile; training and development anytime and anywhere. Consider this: UberEATs, and a variety of other services, will literally bring a customer cheeseburgers to the table of a Starbucks where the person is waiting on the caffeine he or she pre-ordered via a mobile app.
The application of game playing tactics to things like employee competition and reward programs is a great strategy when executed correctly. It can prove fun and engaging for employees while inspiring through reward.
Gamification is transforming business models by creating new ways to extend relationships, craft longer term engagement, and drive customer and employee loyalty. It works because it leverages the motivations and desires that exist in all of us for community, feedback, achievement, and reward. When combined with the latest research on motivation and the big data generated by user interactions, gamification empowers businesses to create true loyalty.
With the good comes the bad, of course. Gamification can make work competitive, rewarding, or engaging, but don’t forget you’re dealing with human beings. One size does not fit all. If a gamification program is designed and executed well, it will serve your overall learning objectives and encourage long-term engagement and learning.
Opinions on this form of training range from “It’s the most amazing thing ever” to “It’s the worst idea ever (at least for what it costs right now).”
The emergence of virtual reality didn’t happen overnight. This technology has been in some stage of development since the 1950s. MIT, video game makers, and the U.S. military have been enthralled with its possibilities for decades, and now learning professionals are slowly climbing on board a very fast-moving train. The immersive experience provides a truly unique training opportunity. The learner can deal with real-world situations and scenarios in a highly realistic environment such as cubicle neighbor conflicts, warehouse safety, courtroom litigation, and flight simulation for pilots.
There are legitimate questions about its effectiveness and true value in some departments and companies, but it does present a truly revolutionary option when and where it makes sense. As VR training becomes cheaper, companies will rapidly begin “valuing” its effectiveness.
If you aren’t ready to take the VR leap, augmented reality may be a viable option. Companies like Coca Cola Beverages Florida, with nearly 5,000 employees and $2 billion in revenue, are using AR in their onboarding process. New employees download an app on their device, and as they tour a facility, the AR shows them day-to-day operations in a certain area, provides them with important information, and teaches them how to use safety equipment in their assigned area.
“What good is the eye-washing station in a warehouse if employees don’t know how to use it in an emergency?” asked Angel Green, Director of Talent & Learning, who implemented their AR training and is leading the charge on adopting new, effective technology for learning.
At its base, learning is a process of bringing together personal and environmental experiences to inform, expand, influence, improve or positively affect an individual’s skills, knowledge, behavior or attitude. It is the place where action, psychology and science merge. In eLearning, and with the emergence of rapidly advancing technologies, these elements are at the forefront and there is cause for excitement.
An organization with a strong learning culture – one aligned to business strategy and goals – outperforms its peers. Few would disagree conceptually, but what is a strong learning culture and how do you get there? At this point, what is the best first step toward that goal?
A company’s learning executives not only deserve a place and a voice at the big table, but they need to be included in the overall strategy development process. L&D is proving more critical than ever to a company’s long term success, so make sure your fellow executives understand that – change the value conversation. Show them how you can connect departments and functions. Encourage collaboration, facilitate interoperability and promote best practices through learning. Provide the highest quality training and education, tailored to their individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, anytime and anywhere.
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