To excel as an inclusive learning organization, your corporate learning needs to be easy, flexible, and smart.
You are now an inclusive learning organization! So now what?
You’ve checked all the boxes. You believe that diversity in the workforce is a competitive differentiator. You harvest the creativity and innovation arising from multiple perspectives. You use inclusive strategies to channel that creativity and innovation into achieving organizational goals. And you leverage modern learning tools and strategies to deliver learning that suits the diverse learning needs of your workforce. But, how can you make sure that you will continue to excel as an inclusive learning organization?
Make it easy, flexible, smart
The answer is easy. In fact, the answer is “easy, flexible, and smart”: make it easy for employees to consume learning content; provide them with flexible ways to express what they’ve learned; and create a smart learning environment. These techniques are rooted in the Universal Design for Learning(UDL) framework popularized by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). In fact, the framework is based on scientific insights into how humans learn.
And how do humans learn? Through changes in knowledge, skills and attitude. These constitute the what, how, and why of things. Making knowledge easy to acquire by presenting information and content in multiple ways helps meet diverse learning needs. Providing flexible ways for learners to express what they learned helps them acquire skills optimally. And, creating a smart learning environment fosters the right attitude towards learning by engaging learners, stimulating their interest, and motivating them to learn.
Enhancing the knowledge and skills of employees can result in a substantial boost to productivity, employee retention and improved product quality. So, what are some ways in which the three-pronged framework can be implemented in an organizational learning environment? How can an inclusive learning organization offer easy representation, flexible expression, and smart engagement to its learners? Here’s how you can do it.
Presenting ideas and information in multiple ways promotes knowledge building.
- Enable learners to customize the display of information. Different learners might like setting up their interface in different ways. Personalization promotes engagement and offers a sense of ownership.
- Provide alternatives for auditory information. Not every learner might prefer listening to content, at least not all the time. Many millennials, for example, look at YouTube as a trusted learning resource.
- Provide alternatives for visual information. It might not be possible for all learners to view content all the time. Depending on the device, time, and place they might prefer to listen to it.
- Use multiple media sources. Variation helps retain interest. It also allows learners to consume learning content in different ways. Even providing the same content in different modes helps.
- Provide relationships between pieces of information. Connection helps comprehension.
- Provide ways to maximize transfer of knowledge acquired. This would also help in generalizing and applying the knowledge across situations.
Check out this video on how you can use a a social media-inspired activity feed to increase employee engagement.
Providing learners with multiple ways to express their comprehension and mastery of a topic promotes skill building.
- Enable different methods for navigating learning content. Help learners get to different points through a variety of paths. Engaging in different ways assists in retaining interest.
- Provide different ways to respond, even different modes. An example would be to allow learners to submit their assignment as a text document, or a video, or recorded audio.
- Allow use of multiple devices, tools and technologies. When learners are able to use different types of mobile devices, operating systems, and browsers to engage with the content, it expands reach and frees them up to access learning from different locations.
- Provide multiple tools for communication, construction and composition. Let learners use what they are most comfortable with or what suits any situation.
- Facilitate management of information and resources. Help learners store and keep track of knowledge acquired. This is important for them to feel confident and in control.
Tapping into learners’ interests, challenging them appropriately, and motivating them to learn promotes attitude building.
- Make learning goal-oriented and challenging. Learners need stimulation.
- Provide choice and autonomy in what they learn and how. This promotes their sense of ownership.
- Ensure relevance, value, and authenticity in the content provided. This increases the credibility of the organization and the commitment of the learner.
- Minimize threats and distractions. Make sure that learning progresses uninterrupted. The solution could be technology-oriented, process-oriented, or both.
- Help peers connect and interact for learning. This fosters communication, collaboration, and a sense of collective responsibility. Shared knowledge and peer learning are of great value for individual growth.
- Optimize motivation by promoting organizational expectations and beliefs. Offering rewards and recognition also helps.
- Facilitate personal coping skills and strategies. Enable peer-sharing of such information to broaden the benefit.
- Provide tools for learners to monitor their own progress and plan their learning. This helps them stay in charge of their learning. Self-determination and self-direction promote optimal growth.
Learning to learn
In today’s world, there is no dearth of information. The true need is for learning how to learn, for mastering the learning process. Providing an easy, flexible, and smart learning environment helps an inclusive learning organization foster learning skills effectively in their diverse workforce. Learning is a social activity and it lasts a lifetime. Reaching every learner remains the goal of any socially responsible learning system.