4 Things about Learning Technology every Chief Learning Officer Should Know
Whether you’ve been a learning executive for 20 years or new to the profession, chances are you know that implementing new technology solutions for employee training is a continual challenge.
In this post we highlight four things you should know about how learning technologies are implemented today that are pivotal to the success of your company’s learning strategy.
1. Learners are busier than ever and need tools that accommodate both binge learning and sporadic learning
Like you, your learners are busy and pulled in many different directions at once. Learning activities that are added to their existing workload can feel like an additional burden. That being said, employees will make time for training if they feel it enhances relevant skills and results in career growth. A key way to help ease this tension is to deploy learning technologies that allow your learners to interact flexibly with the learning material.
In our Google-trained society, the modern professional looks for information the moment it becomes relevant to have. Concentrated training sessions may lose effectiveness if not applied in the short term. Instead, some form of just-in-time learning is necessary. In order to accommodate this, your learning technology needs to provide microlearning in chunks that are relevant to the task at hand.
However, simply creating a library of searchable microlearning nuggets is not enough. This may be sufficient for simple procedures, but this is not sufficient to learn a substantial skill. Thus, in addition to accommodating sporadic learning, you also want your learning technology to be able to provide a scaffolded, sequenced learning experience. Modern learners may have short attention spans at times, but they also binge-watch hours of Game of Thrones. Let people fall deeply into a learning experience through sequences of rich or deep content and they will engage even more deeply with the content.
2. Soft skills can be learned online through experiential environments
Online training has revolutionized learning, but it is reaching even further. The first training to be transferred online was purely informative: compliance training or product training. Then came other procedural skills such as project management and decision-making. But now a new barrier has been breached. Today’s platforms utilizing social learning can now be used to teach soft ‘behavioral’ skills. Activities such as team assignments, group learning, discussion boards, peer feedback and coaching all contribute to the practical application and use of these higher-level skills.
Examples of soft skills development in an eLearning context might be courses on stakeholder management or on leading cross-functional teams. Sales representatives might role-play or try out new techniques in actual customer calls and receive feedback through a social learning platform. When the right type of social learning experience is crafted, many types of soft skills can be learned online. Some organizations are moving their entire leadership development programs into a largely online footing, though perhaps blended with high-impact in-person experiences.
3. Online collaboration is itself an important skill for the modern employee
Working flexibly has become more commonplace and, with an increasing share of Millennials in the workforce, it is becoming a hygiene factor for organizations. Utilizing collaborative social learning allows for the teaching of soft skills and higher level skills, and in the modern working environment, collaborating virtually is becoming an increasingly important skill in the workplace. When employees work together virtually in cross-functional teams, they are also practicing the very online collaboration skills that they will need in their jobs and careers.
Online projects that require teamwork may require even more effective communication, planning, task division and coordination than in traditional work settings. Thus, a by-product of your learning technologies may be an opportunity to practice and enhance these valuable skills.
4. Social learning technologies allow a wide range of colleagues to learn together
By fully leveraging the capabilities of online learning platforms, your employees may get the opportunity to interact with more colleagues outside their daily teams. Having a social learning technology at the base of your learning environment allows your learners to get in contact with people across functions in different ways. They might confer with functional colleagues in different geographies, collaborating with stakeholders within the organization, receive feedback from coaches, mentors, and senior leaders. This flexible, wide range of collaboration will help your employees get exposed to new ideas, perspectives, and form a larger network within your organization.
As you can see, it is not the case that learning technology is a solution in and of itself. Rather, it can be an enabler that enhances your learning experiences when utilized appropriately. But the good news is that new breakthroughs in technologies now allow you to take advantage of and incorporate new learning strategies, as you face the task of preparing your employees for the future.