Technology enables learners to take greater control of their learning journey – from quickly finding a video to complete a new task to downloading an app or training course that expands your knowledge and expertise. In the last year, virtual learning has skyrocketed in adoption and usage.

Many training organizations are leveraging technology to provide employees access to learning resources through learning management systems (LMSs), learning libraries and external training partners. Today, the options are limitless when it comes to learning for employees. But limitless options can be overwhelming.

Combatting virtual fatigue and employee burnout have been key focus areas for leaders over the past year. Remote work has given employees more autonomy over their working and learning experiences, leading to an increase in demand for self-management skills. In the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Future of Jobs report, self-management skills topped the list of skills employers see rising by 2025. These skills include active learning and learning strategies, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.

Active learning and learning strategies secured the second spot on the list – emphasizing the increasing importance of this critical skill set. The report defines active learning as, “Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.” Active learning occurs when learners engage, apply and reflect on the knowledge they have just acquired. By immediately applying the new skill or information, the learning is more likely to be retained.

Active learning can still be successful in the virtual environment. By utilizing facilitation tools within virtual platforms – such as polls, breakout rooms, videos or simulations – facilitators can ensure learners have the chance to engage, apply and reflect on their new skills. Managers can also play an important role in engaging employees throughout their learning journey.

Partnering for Success

As employees gain more control over their learning journeys, training professionals must work to create learning pathways that identify the skills employees need in their job roles. With the help of their managers, employees can better map their learning goals to achieve the skills and behavior change necessary to succeed in their current role and beyond.

While giving employees freedom over their learning journeys is empowering, they also need guidance and support to achieve their goals. Coaching and feedback are critical for employee development but become even more necessary in a virtual environment. Leaders must frequently check-in with employees to assess progress and address any concerns or challenges the employee may be experiencing.

It’s OK to Focus on You

Finding the time for learning and development can be a real challenge. However, reflection is an integral part of the learning process and allows you to uncover insights and identify areas for improvement. This process can provide employees with the self-awareness that leads to better performance.

Managing your learning journey also means managing and protecting your time. It’s easy for the work week to get away from us. Unexpected meetings and impromptu chats often wreak havoc on our schedules. As learners, we must be diligent and dedicate allotted time for learning and development each week. Block off time in your calendar, put your phone on “do not disturb” or close out of your email – whatever it takes for you to focus on your development.

The most successful people are lifelong learners. They never stop looking for opportunities to grow and expand their perspective. Technology enables greater access to learning and development, and – while virtual burnout is very real – the right balance and approach enables employees to effectively leverage technology to reach their full potential.

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