Impuls Series - The Future of Workplace Learning
Part 2 with Marina Begic: Digital Business Development Expert and Senior L&D Consultant
Our Digital Business Development Expert and Senior L&D Consultant Marina Begic is currently focusing intensively on “The Future of Workplace Learning”.
Fast and targeted learning, especially for leaders, is becoming increasingly important in an intensifying digital and agile world. Therefore, Marina shares her personal learnings with us. We kicked the series off with the first topic, “The Future of Workplace Learning – Digitization Boost”.
By the way: Soon we will have more on the future role of L&D experts and trusted guides in part 3!
Hey, Marina is a member of our LinkedIn expert group
If you would like to exchange thoughts and ideas about “Agile Leadership Development”, please send us a request. We are looking forward to you and your valuable impulses!
Self-directed learning needs more than just an LMS!
During the pandemic, we all experienced what is already possible with E-Learnings and how quickly we can switch from face-to-face to virtual training. Those who already had a learning management system (LMS) in place probably found it easier to make digital learning materials and videos available to their employees and co-workers. At the same time, the learning curve was also very sharp, as we quickly learned what possibilities digital learning solutions offer and where the limitations are.
“LMS is supposed to promote self-directed learning”-this is a phrase I hear again and again from L&D departments and leaders when asked about the purpose of the LMS. The responsibility of learning should lie with the employees themselves.
What is self-directed learning anyway?
There is no standard definition, so here is an attempt to summarize it:
Learners should take the initiative on their own accord, grasp their own learning needs and learning goals, and select and apply the appropriate learning content. The mere availability of content in an LMS based on a PDP (Personal Development Plan) is therefore not sufficient to bring forth self-directed learning. Learning is a social phenomenon that needs a holistic approach.
An LMS is well suited to provide a predefined process with the appropriate content at the right point. If you don’t have too high expectations of the LMS, it can still be a very useful tool when used correctly.
However, if you want to sustainably change the learning culture in your company and develop it further in the direction of agile learning, you should not back a large, expensive horse that may no longer be usable in a few years, but rather try out many smaller options using sprints.
The 70:20:10 model, which is often used in leadership development, brings us closer to the fact that we are always and everywhere learning, especially through our work (70) and from others (20). In the future, there will be an increasing blending of the three “ways” of learning, i.e. formally (10%, Education), through interaction with other people (20%, Exposure) and informally through our own experience (70%, Experience).
Learning is the Work. (Jarche, 2013)
The education portion, i.e., the formal part of learning, will increasingly be used and accessed where it is needed. The technical requirements for this are already in place.
Adaptive Systems or Learning Experience Platforms (LXP)
This also demands systems that continuously adapt to users and their needs. Adaptive systems or learning experience platforms that deliver easily digestible knowledge nuggets independent of time and place and at the same time memorize learning preferences and suggest meaningful new learning content.
From the user’s point of view, one could have skipped the development step of the inflexible LMS and started right away with so-called experience platforms. But be careful, not every LXP is a real experience platform. Giving the user an active role in the learning process beyond clicking things through should be a minimum requirement and not a promoted further development on the market.
What can also hinder the learning process in connection with an LMS implementation are
- A long implementation process: it is not uncommon for it to take several years from the search to the roll-out of the software. Usually, a requirements catalog is created for months with 15 different stakeholders/sponsors (who are usually not the direct target group at all).
- The search is on for the perfect solution that meets all the technical criteria and, by chance, also provides exactly the right content for the company.
- Work is done according to the waterfall principle instead of the agile principle, i.e. the system is not deployed until all functions run without errors.
If the target group cannot be continuously tested and adapted, there is a high risk of failure.
What can current LXP platforms provide?
- Current LXP platforms such as eloomie, Rallyware, HLX, and StoryShare offer not only learning content, but also an integrated authoring system for creating your own e-learning, enable self-service content curation and content sharing, and thus also touch on social learning.
- Learning platforms should offer cross-platform content as part of their standard program and suggest suitable Netflix-style content based on user behavior using artificial intelligence.
- The Leapsome platform uses an analytics tool to continuously determine its own training needs and links daily business, tasks, goal management, and feedback. However, the option to integrate third-party content is missing here.
- So LXP also pay attention to the active and social components of learning, experience and exposure.
- But only 25% of U.S. companies have a learning experience platform in place, and according to the Haufe Benchmarking Study from 2020, LXP is still not very widespread – for 62% of respondents it is not even a term.
For those who don't yet have an LMS and want to promote self-directed learning, here are 9 tips for doing so:
1. use existing systems: existing intranets or communication platforms/channels may not be able to perform all LMS functions; however, they probably can do more than you think. Text, images and even videos can be easily integrated at one point or another in almost all companies these days. So first knock on IT’s door and have key users show you the functionalities of existing systems. Besides, nobody wants the 25th program – no matter how useful and interesting it is.
2. content ALWAYS before infrastructure: don’t wait for the LMS to be announced in 6 months to deliver content that is currently relevant to your employees. By then, the content may even be outdated. There is certainly a solution, e.g. intranet, social media company group, monitors in production/break halls or simply link via email/SMS to Youtube channel. It is important to bring the message as close as possible (barrier-free) to the target group.
3. Iteration before perfection: It is better to publish content in small bites, i.e. microlearnings in 3-5 minutes, in different channels on a regular basis. Work in sprints for both software/infrastructure and content production, get feedback from target audience and move on. Even if it is tempting in terms of price, rather make up shorter license periods. Content that is no longer needed in a year is then still too expensive even discounted.
4. relevance: Think well about what content to go out with first with your target audience using e-learnings. How relevant is the content to the target audience? Is it “only” legally relevant (mandatory training) or does it also solve a problem for the target group. How do I communicate to the target audience that this content is relevant? Here it pays off to devote a little more time to this, even when designing the content of the e-learning: If, for example, a standard content is purchased, one could quickly use cloud-based authoring tool to create a personalized framework with introductory words to the WHY or even a short intro video with the CEO. You can also work with the sandwich method. A mandatory content (like IT security) packed between two more exciting contents.
5. good news spreads fast: but only if enough employees know about it and can spread it. Therefore, start with content that is relevant to a larger audience. So what brings the fastest quick-win, creates the greatest impact, increases business value? It is therefore advisable, for example, to prefer Outlook training for all employees to e-learnings for C-levels.
6 Mix & Match: Even if at first glance it appears to be easier to work with a large one-stop provider that covers all functionalities and often already provides a lot of content, it is nevertheless more difficult to navigate a large ship in times of change. You will never be able to cover everything from one provider. Optimal is a mix of purchased standard content, partially or completely self-produced and professionally produced content. I always recommend starting with a few selected pieces of content rather than releasing a library with hundreds of pieces of content without any control.
7. involve the target group (empowerment): not only by means of a one-time needs assessment at the beginning, but on an ongoing basis. The production staff probably knows better than the L&D department how to improve the production line and how to present that. Have project groups produce their own content and give them tools to create and share short videos themselves with short “How to make a Microlearning” training. Call competitions, create innovation awards, provide access to video/authoring tools.
8. strategy roadmap: Even an agile learning journey needs a north star, a mission. Therefore, select partners strategically. What is the goal of the LMS implementation? Because management wants to digitize the company? Is there a strategy for it? What is to be changed as a result? In what time frame? What problems will it solve – short, medium, or long term? Does it really need an LMS for this, or maybe something else already? What goal does the digital learning content pay towards? A strategy roadmap helps with orientation. At this point, it can be helpful to bring independent external experts on board. Either just for the strategy or also for content curation and personalized production.
9 Communication first: Communication is half the battle and the key to success. Really. Period. An e-learning strategy must always be accompanied by a communication roadmap and sufficient transparent communication. But what is “sufficient”?
The following approach can provide guidance:
- At the beginning of the project: 70% communication for 30% message.
- In the development phase: 50% communication for 50% message
- In the maintenance phase: 30% communication for 70% message
That sounds like a lot of work to you? It is!
But e-learning is not introduced to make things easier for the L&D department, but for everyone else 😉 The good news is, however, that you don’t have to do the communication work alone and actually can’t do it at all. You need trusted experts called trusted guides to do it.
More about the future role of L&D experts and trusted guides will be available shortly in the third part of my impulse series
Digital Business Development Expertin und Senior L&D Consultant
Marina has been working on new, effective learning methods and the future of corporate learning for over 15 years. In her current role, she is responsible for Digital Business Development at MDI, where her focus is not driven by the current buzzwords, but primarily on the feasibility of digital transformation for clients such as Erste Group, Lenzing, Semperit, Deutsche Bahn, Andritz AG, Uniqa, Mayr-Melnhof, Frequentis, RHIM. Her greatest strength is bringing loose ends together, which she impressively demonstrates time and time again with her big picture view and multi-dimensional approach. Her greatest passion is to provide learners not only with an experience, but also with real, lasting value for their real challenges.
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