5 Key Steps to Innovate in Learning
Imagine how much change has taken place in the training industry over the last 100 years and how many technological advances have transformed learning forever. Think distance learning, e-learning, virtual reality, gamification, and so on. The pandemic turned the industry on its head. And with the latest advances in Artificial Intelligence, the way we learn is moving into a new age.
Pivotal moments in history have made demands on training experts to think big and think different. As a result, training providers have had to change the way they put their programs together, trying fresh approaches to learning that harness the latest technology.
As we experience another seismic sea change – where hybrid learning is becoming the norm – how can training providers, L&D teams and HR managers develop their programs in a way that fits with the times and is, importantly, sustainable?
Here are 5 key steps L&D professionals can adopt to keep development programs relevant and in-tune with modern pedagogy.
1- Align your training objectives with current and future business goals
The skillset of your people should match exactly the skills they need to achieve your company’s business goals, targets and KPIs. Instead of training people with nice-to-have knowledge, arm them with skills that enable them to excel, whether through upskilling or reskilling. As business goals change and the trading environment evolves, so should your training objectives. This helps your company stay relevant and competitive, and ensures learning is effective.
2- External listening
Data is key to discovering what the market wants and needs, so gather as much data as you can from clients. Research the skills your people need for now and tomorrow and monitor competitors for the latest trends in your sector. Importantly, you should seek feedback on existing projects to consistently improve your training offering. Establish testing protocols to help create an improved user experience. This should all form part of a dynamic and sustainable plan for innovation.
One of the biggest learning evolutions in recent years has been the advent of ‘gamification’. The recent trend of ‘escape games’, for example, has been adapted within learning programs to encourage groups to work together and solve problems. It is an engaging style of learning that works particularly well in virtual classes and makes a change from the usual breakout activities and lectures.
3- Internal listening
Just as important as seeking external guidance is the need to monitor and encourage innovation internally. Create a plan for designing quality offers, analyse business feedback from those on the ground to see what is working and what needs improvement. It is important to listen to trainers, L&D managers and learners to understand the experience from their perspective, too.
One invaluable internal resource is your learning analytics, which can be drawn directly from responses to e-learning, and indirectly from learner and client feedback or from trainer observation.
Learning analytics is key to understanding learning behaviours. It helps to understand how people interact with learning content and adjust pedagogical structures to make learning more efficient.
For instance, here at Cegos, we included an optional ‘know more’ button on one of our modules, for learners who wanted to go into more depth on a topic. We saw that around 50% of learners clicked the button, suggesting there was a big appetite for more knowledge on that subject. We can bear this mind when we revise the design of that particular program.
We also use what we call the ‘Analytics Value Escalator’ to measure learning, asking four key questions: What happened? Why did it happen? What will happen next? And, how do we make good things happen?
4- Transform mindset and counter resistance
It is a fact of life that with change comes resistance. Attitudes to learning – particularly when it comes to training for change – is no exception. The pandemic has thrown up an interesting paradigm in this regard. As the pandemic hit, many people resisted the move towards remote learning, even though they knew there was no alternative in the lockdown environment. As people have become more familiar with virtual training – especially with the convenience and easy integration into work schedules – there has been some resistance to going back to face-to-face training.
In short, a transformation of mindset is needed to counter resistance to change.
Trainers themselves are often suspicious of new tech. At Cegos, we countered this mindset by including them at the design stage of the training programs they were involved in. There were also lots of train-the-trainer activities, including an introduction to virtual tools to meet the challenges of learning delivery in the hybrid environment. Implementing these tools and changing mindsets can be tricky but can lead to real innovation when trainers trust the process and have some ownership.
5- Test, listen, measure and learn
The process of innovating is never-ending. That is why it is crucial to keep moving and develop learning programs with a cycle of testing, listening to key people and learning from what works and what does not. Somewhere along the cycle, you could end up creating something truly impressive, maybe something that has never been done before.
For example, based on our interactions with clients, we created a multi-language plug-in that automatically takes an e-learning programme and makes it possible to deliver the same learning path to clients with learners from different geographies and different preferred languages. We didn’t realise at the time that it was the only tool available that did that kind of thing, so it was a true innovation. It became very popular with clients, to the point where we are now working with platform providers who want to integrate this feature into their own learning management systems.
L&D managers are under pressure these days to ensure learning is efficient as well as effective. By following these key steps, managers can create learning programs that truly engage, because these innovations speak to their people’s current challenges and equip them with the skills to help them now and in the future.
As technology advances, learning will continue to change, as will the demands of learners, leaders and everyone in between. Only by implementing a continuous and sustainable program of innovation can we hope to stay relevant and competitive.
Should you wish to develop your leadership or the skills of your teams we invite you to contact our experts.