Learning platforms in the workplace help companies build job skills and meet mandatory training needs, such as compliance and security. They’re flexible: employees often access them remotely from a range of devices, and they enable large scale training to upskill potentially many people across geographical boundaries, while enabling central control and management of learning experience.
While enterprises are increasingly turning to digital learning to develop mandatory and technical skills, they also need to consider how to build durable skills in competency areas such as leadership, communication and customer service. These skills aren’t gained and honed by spending an hour or so working through a course. They need to be built up through trying things out, receiving feedback, evaluating and refining.
Meeting these skills needs requires a modern learning platform that supports action-based programmatic learning. This means delivering a personalised, guided learning journey where learners can spend time practising in the real-world. It needs to engage and motivate learners, enable interaction and feedback, and make use of data. The learning platform should provide:
- The ability to create and run courses: empowering experts in the organisation to create their own content so that knowledge and expertise is shared
- Support for collaboration and social interaction: through discussion groups, video assignments and peer reviews. This can otherwise be missing when digital replaces classroom-based learning
- Tools to motivate and engage: through gamification techniques such as rewards and recognition for completing a task, meeting a milestone or simply for good learning behaviours such as active participation in the course
- The ability to apply learning and get feedback: a range of methods for providing feedback should include annotations on assessments, audio and video, to provide depth for the learner and be convenient for the reviewer.
Taking this approach involves a mindset shift away from the learning platform as an enhanced content portal. Making such a change isn’t always easy, so we created a webinar together with the Fosway Group, Europe’s #1 HR industry analyst, to discuss these challenges.
In the session, David Perring, Fosway Group’s director of research, and Alan Hiddleston, D2L account director, discuss how to engineer coherent learning experiences on complex topics that still feel ‘easy’ for learners to engage with, how to support ongoing learning rather than one-off events, and how to focus on what really matters – outcomes, performance and results.
“I think the one thing that unites everyone we work with is that they’re trying to tackle more complex skills challenges,” explains Alan. “They’re trying to develop things that require more time and investment than just a compliance e-learning course. They might be trying to improve the leadership skills of people, improve communications skills, train people on technical skills or upgrade skills to respond to digital disruption in the market, or just improve how they execute in their job in key results areas such as sales or customer service.”
Some skills can be picked up by accessing a resource – such as a written checklist or a video – but many are more complex and require practical application for people to feel confident using them in a work situation.
“Creating learning is much more than thinking purely about content,” says David. “If you only support the acquisition of knowledge then you are, to some extent, letting people down.”
However, translating that into a learning programme that can be delivered at scale, challenges many organisations. So much so, that in 2018 Fosway research discovered that 60 per cent of L&D departments are failing to systematically drive the development of mastery and expertise.
Collaboration, feedback and data-driven action
Fortunately, the modern learning platform has capabilities to provide more than just learning content. It supports collaboration, the giving and receiving of feedback, and the monitoring of progress against phased goals.
“We need to think about how we bring these things together in the workplace,” says David. “How we use data to measure where we are today, prompt people to analyse where they are, help them plan what their next actions are, help them learn in a very practical way but also support their application and sustaining of learning in the workplace.”
It’s a world away from a passive content repository and it supports learners in gaining, applying and refining their skills.
What’s more, the learning process itself – being inherently collaborative – helps with the development of desirable characteristics: “When people are learning together, they’re also collaborating together,” points out Alan. “They’re becoming better at team-working, better at communication and they’re becoming better at spanning borders and different boundaries.”
To learn more about meeting skills needs through action-based programmatic learning, access the webinar recording.