I think we can all agree that 2020 was a year like no other. The pandemic has left many business organisations with the dilemma of a disparate workforce that still need to be engaged and energised as much as or, arguably more, than they were when they are coming into the office every day.
One of the business priorities for this year will be retaining talent and this is where learning has an increasing role to play in the recovery from the pandemic and shows how critical it is for organisations to choose the right learning approach to drive the business forward.
Many employees have had to adapt to not only working, but also learning from home, and, while it has closed the digital skills gap, it is imperative that organisations recognise this significant change and adapts their learning offerings accordingly. It is not simply a case of moving all your existing training online or replacing traditional classrooms with virtual classrooms. So, here are several key trends which businesses need to bear in mind when developing learning programmes suitable for the post pandemic world:
Microlearning is a key trend in the learning sector as companies aim to respond to learners needs for short bite sized activities to help achieve a specific goal in the quickest time possible.
It is a proven fact that chunking information increases our short memory capacity. Microlearning uses this approach to focus on one key learning objective at a time reducing overload for learners. Microlearning courses can involve a range of different approaches, including text, images, videos, audio, assessments and quizzes if the focus is on concise delivery of the message.
The power of microlearning is in its simplicity, as it addresses the bespoke needs of an individual learner and can be completed anytime, anywhere. Chatbot technology can be used to embed and underpin this.
- Learning at the point of need
This is where a learner will look for content that helps them to resolve a particular issue at the point that it arises. It is key to look at this approach as a resource, and not course driven. Learners want quick, easy access to required resources to overcome real-life challenges.
As individuals we use this approach every day without even thinking about it, to resolve issues. It has become the norm to search for an error message on a household appliance and follow the steps on a YouTube video to resolve it!
- Learning in the flow of work
According to Josh Bersin, global advisor on the topics of corporate HR, learning in the flow of work involves accessing an answer or a short piece of learning content while you’re still working.
A common issue for organisations is that learners are not given enough time to learn. This approach allows beginners to consume content while they are performing their normal daily tasks. The learning tools can be embedded into standard workplace applications such as Teams or Slack and can be there whenever called upon. Research shows that learning in the flow of work increases performance and engagement and aids in the retention of knowledge.
- Adaptive learning
Adaptive learning uses computer algorithms to adapt to the unique needs of an individual learner and deliver customised learning resources and activities. Put simply, data is gathered based on interactions before and during the learning process.
The data is then analysed, and the algorithm determines the most appropriate pathway to the desired learning outcome. While it seems that adaptive learning is the future for training, it is acknowledged that is still has some way to go before becoming the norm.
In summary, each of these methods has its own merits but also potential challenges. It is important to remember that this is not a one size fits all solution and a combination of these methods, coupled with traditional approaches, will help organisations to create a truly blended approach for learners.
When creating their learning approach, organisations will need to look at harnessing the power of a Learning Management System (LMS) which should be used to underpin whatever approach, or combination of approaches that any organisation chooses to implement to meet the needs of their people.
Alan Mullen, Learning Expert at MHR