As the volume and variety of learning and training content expands, how can organisations use technology to best effect?
Many organisations are finding that the sheer amount of learning and training content on offer is bewildering. Or that once they have decided which suite of learning and development tools to go with, managing it and assessing its effectiveness causes an organisational headache.
Here are six ways organisations can use technology to help boost their training and learning functions in 2018.
1. Gathering data on usage to keep your content spring cleaned
In the good old days, organisations stored their learning materials in just one or two tools – often an internal folder system supplemented by a learning management system (LMS). Today, this model is creaking at the seams.
With so many different kinds of learning happening, a proliferation of in-house learning content is seeping onto a range of disparate systems, including video portals, LMSs, intranets and any number of other internal systems. Keeping on top of things can feel a little like wrestling with a digital monster.
One way organisations can address this is by making sure all their learning experiences send information about who is using them and how often. This could be accomplished through the use of software specification such as Experience API (or xAPI) that enables the collection of data across multiple independent systems, and interprets it in a standardised way for analysis and reporting.
This will help organisations optimise identify what contents are being used and to scale production volume where necessary, and keep the business up to date with changes, as the data will reveal insights about who in the organisation uses certain assets.
2. Leveraging data to inform future learning engagement
The added benefit of converging or aggregating learning content is that it makes it easier to look for trends in the data, which can be used to inform future learning engagement.
More organisations are using learning record stores (LRS) – platforms that serve as repositories for learning records collected from systems where activities are conducted – to collect data from learning content. This data can be analysed to predict future outcomes, and to model how those outcomes could be changed.
Singapore’s OCBC Bank is a good example of an organisation that has effectively leveraged data. Embedding data analytics in its HR functions enabled the bank to predict its attrition rate in the next six months with an accuracy of 75 per cent. This allowed OCBC to proactively act in a bid to retain talent within the organisation.
3. Use virtual reality (VR) for social skills training
We are all familiar with the applicability of VR technologies for teaching precise skills, such as how to build or fix a motor. However, many organisations don’t realise VR is useful for teaching social skills such as customer empathy and understanding.
VR-based interpersonal skills training lets staff immerse themselves in a 360-degree virtual world, practise appropriate responses and learn from their mistakes. It’s this complete immersion that adds an extra dimension when compared to traditional classroom/role play training.
Consider a busy hospitality scenario where staff will need to learn to make quick decisions about who needs help and how to prioritise who to help first. Using VR, they get to scan a busy room as if they were really there.
This helps them to learn what pointers they need to look for in the pursuit of excellent customer service.
As a real world case study, Australian startup Diversifly has wielded VR to great effect, delivering VR-based workplace training programs. The first one raises awareness around diversity and unconscious bias in the workplace by immersing participants in a VR simulation. This allows participants to experience the impact of bias first-hand and identify when it’s present, allowing organisations to put mitigating measures in place before work culture and productivity are affected.
4. The convergence of internal and external learning
The resources involved in developing multimedia learning content makes it sensible to repurpose as many of these assets as possible for additional uses. Companies that have created a wealth of video assets for internal sales team product training are starting to realise that they can easily repurpose the content for use by external audiences. The content has a great deal of value and can be made available to external parties via video portals.
A customer-facing self-help video portal is especially interesting as it can be used at all levels of the customer lifecycle. Not only can customers learn how to use a firm’s products through a visual approach, but a self-help portal can also improve the customer experience by empowering customers to resolve some of the problems themselves. If they do call support, staff can instantly verify via a dashboard what the customer has already tried – saving time and increasing customer satisfaction by streamlining the process.
5. Establish a continuous feedback loop
Training is no longer a case of pass or fail, but rather an ongoing activity. With training increasingly integrated into operational systems, a feedback loop ensures that employees are maintaining the required standards and highlighting any problematic areas.
With a feedback loop established, the organisation will automatically receive data from the employee’s mobile device after every job, covering aspects such as customer satisfaction rating, whether the employee had to consult additional resources for help and how quickly she or he fixed the problem.
This is especially important for individuals who spend the majority of their time out on customer visits.
6. Think of learning across the organisation
A great way the learning department can add value across the organisation is to imagine all the places where learning can take place. Many of the major corporate systems (HRIS, HCM, LMS) are converging – or at least incorporating types of e-learning – and you may find that the content you create has other uses across the organisation.
For instance, showing a small (non-proprietary) portion of a well-produced training course to job applicants can be a powerful draw for prospective employees. These kind of assets may even be used in outreach campaigns to attract more talent.
It is becoming increasingly easy to share content across systems, and so your ability to impact the organisation’s bottom line becomes even stronger, to the degree that you can think about learning in all its possible flavours.
The start of a new year is always a good time to reflect on what changes can be made to improve the status quo. Adopting some of the above suggestions may help to minimise some of the administrative headaches associated with running and managing company-wide learning programs while also boosting learning engagement and outcomes.