There’s an old cliché: “building the plane while flying it.” It means to be so busy doing something that there’s no time to plan or strategize—you just have to make things up as you go. We at D2L, like so many other people during the early months of COVID-19, felt like we were building the plane while flying it. Millions of students and employees all around the world were looking to us to keep them learning and engaged while the pandemic kept them at home. It was demanding and rewarding work for our teams.
Around that time, I was introduced to a new employee-directed learning program to tackle upskilling. With limited time, rapid hiring growth at our company, the impact of the pandemic on the health of many at D2L and an unprecedented move to remote work, I was hesitant to take this on. I didn’t want to overburden the People and Culture Team, or leadership across D2L, with so much change already taking place.
We know that in times of unprecedented disruption and market uncertainty, the rate of self-driven employee education increases. But how would we take that on, in addition to all of these other internal challenges? Once I reflected on the opportunity and value that a learning program would provide for our employees, I determined that now was exactly the time for employees and leaders to launch this program. If we were feeling the pressure of change, then all D2Lers were feeling the same pressure.
What we have found is that employees like and want self-directed learning. Researching their own learning pathways creates ownership over their career advancement and empowers their learning and career growth. Giving them an envelope to work within while still being menu-driven and targeted is a great way for us to balance their needs with D2L’s. Ensuring D2L as the employer can select a leading institution or provider helps ensure the quality of the training while creating flexibility.
Of course, most organizations don’t have the capacity to set up a self-directed learning program from scratch. I don’t know a single HR team that wouldn’t want a quick and easy L&D program that can be implemented to drive upskilling and career growth. Fortunately, D2Lers were working with a system that was already created—by us—to facilitate this kind of learning.
In fact, we were our own first customer. Our L&D program, which we call internally Catch the Wave, is actually powered by D2L Wave. It’s a brand-new, free upskilling education platform that we’re about to make available across Canada – where employers only pay for the courses that employees take. Think of it as the ultimate matchmaking tool that connects employees to the education they want while building the skills that your organization (or department) needs. D2L Wave allowed us to centralize all upskilling and learning strategies in one platform. Employees can browse the catalog and request and register for the education they’re interested in. This streamlined approach to learning has been a game changer for us, simplifying the process for employers and employees.
After deploying this program to all D2Lers, we were impressed by the insights we received into skill demand and gaps across the entire organization. We now have visibility into the individual learning demand of all individuals and departments that use Catch the Wave. This new program has invigorated our workforce and given us a tangible way to ensure our employees feel we’re supporting their careers.
And we did it all during the pandemic.
The hard part is done—we’ve built the plane. Now all you have to do is fly it.