Imagine how much change has taken place in the training industry over the last 100 years and how many technological advances have transformed learning forever. Think distance learning, eLearning, virtual reality, gamification and so on. The COVID-19 pandemic turned the industry on its head. And with the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI), the way we learn is moving into a new age.
Training providers have had to change the way they put their programs together, trying fresh approaches to learning that harness the latest technology.
As we experience another seismic sea change — where hybrid learning is becoming the norm — how can training providers, learning and development (L&D) teams and human resources (HR) managers develop their programs in a way that fits with the times and is, more importantly, sustainable?
Here are five key steps L&D professionals can follow to keep development programs relevant and in tune with modern pedagogy.
1. Align Your Training Objectives With Business Goals
The skillset of your people should enable them to achieve your company’s business goals, targets and key progress indicators (KPIs). Instead of training people with nice-to-have knowledge, arm them with skills that enable them to excel, whether through upskilling or reskilling. As business goals change and the trading environment evolves, so should your training objectives. This helps your company stay relevant and competitive, and ensures learning is effective.
2. Get Feedback and Test Solutions
Data is key to discovering what the market wants and needs, so gather as much data as you can from clients. Research the skills your people need for now and tomorrow and monitor competitors for the latest trends in your sector. Importantly, you should seek feedback on existing projects to consistently improve your training offering. Establish testing protocols to help create an improved user experience. This should all form part of a dynamic and sustainable plan for innovation.
One of the biggest learning evolutions in recent years has been the advent of gamification. The recent trend of escape games, for example, has been adapted within learning programs to encourage groups to work together and solve problems. It is an engaging style of learning that works particularly well in virtual classes and makes a change from the usual breakout activities and lectures.
3. Turn to Internal Talent and Resources
Just as important as seeking external guidance is the need to monitor and encourage innovation internally. Create a plan for designing quality offers, analyze business feedback from those on the ground to see what is working and what needs improvement. It is important to listen to trainers, L&D managers and learners to understand the experience from their perspective, too.
One invaluable internal resource is your learning analytics, which can be drawn directly from responses to eLearning, and indirectly from learner and client feedback or from trainer observation.
Learning analytics are key to understanding learning behaviors. We can specifically observe how people interact with learning content and adjust pedagogical structures to make learning more efficient.
For instance, at Cegos Group, we included an optional “know more” button on one of our modules, for learners who wanted to go into more depth on a topic. We saw that around 50% of learners clicked the button, suggesting there was a big appetite for more knowledge on that subject. We can bear this mind when we revise the design of that particular program.
Cegos uses what we call the ‘”Analytics Value Escalator” to measure learning, asking four key questions: What happened? Why did it happen? What will happen next? And, how do we make good things happen?
4. Transform Mindsets and Counter Resistance
It is a fact of life that with change comes resistance. Attitudes to learning — particularly when it comes to training for change — is no exception. The pandemic has thrown up an interesting paradigm in this regard. As the pandemic hit, many people resisted the move toward remote learning, even though they knew there was no alternative in the lockdown environment. As people have become more familiar with virtual training — especially with the convenience and easy integration into work schedules — there has been some resistance to going back to face-to-face training.
In short, a transformation of mindset is needed to counter resistance to change.
Trainers themselves are sometimes wary of new tech. We countered this mindset at our organization by including trainers at the design stage of the training programs they were involved in. There were also lots of train-the-trainer activities, including an introduction to virtual tools to meet the challenges of learning delivery in the hybrid environment. Implementing these tools and changing mindsets can be tricky but can lead to real innovation when trainers trust the process and have some ownership.
5. Test, Listen, Measure and Learn
The process of innovating is never-ending. That is why it is crucial to keep moving and develop learning programs with a cycle of testing, listening to key people and learning from what works and what does not. Somewhere along the cycle, you could end up creating something truly impressive, maybe something that has never been done before. By exploring and testing new products and features, you will create more opportunities for growth.
L&D managers are under pressure to ensure learning is efficient as well as effective. By following these key steps, managers can create learning programs that truly engage, because these innovations speak to their people’s current challenges and equip them with the skills to help them now and in the future.
As technology advances, learning will continue to change, as will the demands of learners, leaders and everyone in between. Only by implementing a continuous and sustainable program of innovation can we hope to stay relevant and competitive.