How smart companies use technology to boost learning
Digital technology has been transforming the way we do business for some time now, and has largely had a positive impact on learning and development within our organisations.
The growth in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, coupled with the evolution of online learning, has created significant benefits for companies.
Firstly, digital technology allows training to be consumed more flexibly. Staff can now access bite-sized modules whenever convenient, meaning that the days of taking huge chunks of time out of the office to attend seminars are slowly fading into history.
Secondly, technology allows for a more interactive experience, which in turns leads to more engagement and more effective learning.
Finally, online learning is far more cost-effective than tradition face-to-face learning, especially once the initial investment has been laid out.
That’s not say that face-to-face learning will too become a thing of the past. Most HR and training managers agree that personal interaction plays a significant role in the learning process. However, instead of learning being delivered face-to-face in its entirety, using digital technology to impart knowledge that can then be developed in a face-to-face environment is fast becoming the norm.
Cegos Asia Pacific recently conducted a survey to establish the 5 key drivers for success as we head to the 2020s workplace. The first of these is the Impact of Technology, where we found that some companies are being creative when using technology to deliver training.
Here are just four examples of best practice, common amongst companies that were early adopters of digital learning.
1. Using personalised devices
Many people now use smartphones or tablets for work. As such, employees are comfortable accessing and responding to information online using the devices they are familiar with. This is being exploited by forward-thinking companies to make learning more relevant and engaging.
The opportunities for interaction are particularly good. Apps and tools that facilitate interaction in a personal or ‘live’ environment, such as Pigeonhole, make participants much more willing to engage in the learning process.
Trainers at car makers Nissan, for example, distribute iPads to everyone at their live training events. Participants use the iPads to take part in quizzes or live voting, and even to make notes. This style of learning is successful because it involves ‘learning by playing’ and allows management to collect useful data on how their staff are responding to both the training and various company initiatives.
2. Incorporating social media
Using social media to source and share up-to-date information is an exciting way to encourage interaction. Whether that means encouraging staff to tweet under a company-specific hashtag or interact in a more formal environment, such as an online forum, employees get to share ideas along with their own experiences. This enhances the learning process to make it more relevant and in touch with the way we work in the modern world.
3. Owning a Learning Management System (LMS)
For large organisations, developing an LMS is a great way to concentrate and measure learning success. Since learning can be broken down into individual modules, users can pick and choose topics that are relevant to them. Given the online nature of the modules, results of interactions can often be monitored and assessed by relevant staff. This is particularly useful where compliance issues are involved.
Importantly, however, digital learning should be supported by some face-to-face training in order to get the best results.
4. Making digital learning part of company culture
Companies that adopt the first three ideas are most successful when they make digital learning part of the culture. That is to say the benefits of digital learning are communicated clearly, and staff at all levels are encouraged to participate.
Investment in quality makes a difference too. Learning platforms that are clean, easy to use and well presented give staff greater confidence in using them and produce better results.
It is worth noting that there is a generational dimension to this issue. Gen Y (soon to be followed by Gen Z) tend to be more comfortable and savvy using digital technology than older generations. In fact, the results of our survey suggest that Gen Y and Z will soon expect much of their learning and development to involve a significant digital element.
As technology continues to progress at a rapid rate, companies should develop their learning programmes in line with expectations, and try to take advantage of all the benefits that technology brings.