What we’ve learned from the sudden shift to remote work is that people are generally quite positive about technology adoption to support their work and learning requirements. Many learning and development (L&D) professionals have scrambled to keep the lights on during the COVID-19 pandemic but, at the same time, they have taken the opportunity to evolve learning experiences into the digital era.
With so many people preferring to work from home, and others preferring to return part or full-time to the office, L&D is tasked with finding scalable solutions to reach diverse audiences in remote locations. At the same time, learning experiences are being evolved to meet the demands of Millennials and Gen Z audiences. These learners are practically digital natives with a deep understanding of mobile capabilities and remote collaboration tools, so it’s only fitting that learning follows suit.
Let’s explore some of the techniques that innovative learning leaders are using to create engaging, and impactful, training experiences.
Embrace Design Thinking
Before any learning strategy is launched, innovative instructional designers begin with a design thinking approach. Rather than focusing on learning outcomes, they start with open-ended questions that address learners’ needs. This may include surveying learners and involving business units from the get-go to ensure they are aligned on key priorities and values. By identifying trends and requirements using design thinking and adult learning best practices, they can better identify the most effective delivery modality for the training experience at hand. Programs can then be designed as personalized learning experiences for each employee. This evolves learning from a one-and-done, transactional approach to a learning program that continues to add value throughout the entire employee life cycle.
Leverage Mobile Learning
On the heels of design thinking, mobile learning is a solution that drives engagement. Consider that fact that something as simple as a tiny red dot on a screen will capture people’s attention. So, why not use that same science of learning for creating engaging learning experiences?
Mobile delivery is effective for short bursts of microlearning and videos. Your learning management system (LMS) can also help learners connect to the content and encourage social learning in the same way they use their personal social media sites and search engines. Understanding the power of mobile will help meet the expectations of Millennial and Gen Z learners, but it’s also effective with other generations.
Your LMS should be perfectly suited to deliver a design-responsive mobile platform that learners can easily navigate and use. The key to mobile learning is in building a learning experience that sticks and supports learners in their day-to-day roles.
Use Video to Catch and Keep Learners’ Attention
Video learning is an effective way to increase learner engagement and retention. In an era where binge-watching television shows is largely commonplace, this makes sense. Short and entertaining videos can easily be accessed on home computers or mobile devices, offering a scalable and cost-effective solution.
Video is also a great tool for providing short demonstrations, acting as a key job aid for employees. In the same way that someone might search the internet for how-to videos on making bread, they can access critical technical information while on the job. Video messages from instructors, facilitators, and leaders are also great ways to convey information remotely. Luckily, making videos has never been easier with the many screen capture tools and cameras available on desktop computers and mobile devices.
Use Social Learning to Build Community
Many LMSs have built-in social networking portals to support peer-to-peer learning, mentoring and more. Providing a social space where learners can share their experiences helps to support a culture of coaching within your organization. This is especially relevant during the post-Covid return to work, where many employees can feel lost or ignored. A social portal enriches learning experiences by building a community of support.
Adopt Experiential Learning
Effective learning experiences are often ones that include practice, reflection and collaboration to drive retention. Experiential learning immerses learners in an experience and allows them to apply knowledge in real-world situations. Why not consider games, game-based learning, virtual or augmented reality (VR or AR) to provide learning experiences that are not only relevant but also immersive and engaging? Consider role-plays in a remote learning environment as well as business simulations, avatars and game-like interactive experiences to engage learners.
Make it Just-in-time
With so much learning being moved online, it’s increasingly difficult for facilitators to maintain engagement with learners when they’re on the job. Not only does this approach lend itself to forgetting, it’s a missed opportunity to engage with learners in a meaningful way. In the absence of a live instructor, your digital learning experiences need to be as attractive and interactive as possible. Your learners will be asking “What’s in it for me?” And your programs will need to answer the call — they need to be fun, relevant, accessible and just-in-time.
Look to Learning Analytics to Gather Intelligence
Learning analytics serve many purposes. L&D professionals can use the data to tie learning back to the business to show evidence of behavioral changes and ROI. Analytics can also be used to identify trends in learning programs, learner engagement, and raise red flags when facilitators need to engage with learners directly. The data can demonstrate if a particular module is not effective and provide instructional designers with insight to help fix the issue. If you can’t see a problem, you can’t fix it, so learning analytics are a piece of the solution that can help to build engaging learning experiences at scale.
Coaching and Reinforcement
Engaging learning experiences don’t need to stop at the end of the course. Instead, consider how you effectively build a coaching culture within your organization so learning is continuous and always relevant to job performance. We’ve seen great success when L&D connects with the business to extend the value of their learning programs. Using elements such as score cards and one-on-one meetings, both L&D and business teams can continuously monitor job performance and provide helpful coaching and insight. Additionally, L&D can deliver refresher content or additional resources to provide ongoing training and support.
Creating engaging learning experiences requires a holistic approach. It’s not simply about selecting one modality or another to guarantee successful learning. And it’s certainly not about confining learning to a specific timeframe. Learning experiences need to be organic and freely continue alongside the flow of work. They need to be ever-present in the hearts and minds of your learners.
effective way to learn more about how we support our client-partners in developing engaging learning experiences and driving a culture of continuous learning at their organizations.