An Effortless Experience Requires Deep Effort
By Tom Bronikowski, Director of Strategic Accounts, Expertus
Workplace learning. It’s actually a lot like breathing.
Both are vital for us to develop and grow. Both occur continuously. And like oxygen, the elements of learning are everywhere around us in our environment.
But there is also a stark difference between these two functions:
Humans are designed to breathe efficiently — even without conscious thought or effort. Learning, on the other hand, isn’t automatic — even when we’re exposed to new, interesting or important information. But we can improve the odds, with factors that work together to engage employees, customers and business partners in the learning process.
3 Pillars of Strong Learning Ecosystems
1) Content: The old adage says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” But learning organizations can’t afford to leave content entirely to chance. The more relevant and compelling your core offerings are, the more effective learning outcomes will be. Of course, a lack of content is problematic — but conversely, an abundance of options can lead to information overload. It’s pays to seek balance. Get to know your audience, and map content to their preferences and behavioral patterns.
2) Context: Mindfulness matters. If we’re not receptive to learning within our work environment, the game is over before it has begun. But assuming that employees are open to development opportunities, just how seamlessly can learning interventions fit into your business workflows? Again, it’s essential to understand the scenarios that prompt learners to seek information, guidance, resources and reinforcement. Aim to anticipate those moments of need, and make meaningful learning choices available in the appropriate places, as required. Timing is everything. But relevance and timing together are irresistible.
3) Channel: Of course, with breathing, there’s really only one best choice — the human respiratory system is already integrated into the human body. Unless we’re ill or injured, this system is a highly reliable source of continuous oxygen flow.
But choosing the best workplace learning channel is often much trickier. Our mind and senses may be receptive. Appropriate content may be available to deliver at the moment of need. But in that moment, we also need pathways that connect us easily with sources of learning. And the array of options is expanding at a mind-boggling pace.
Instructor-led classroom training is still the bedrock of corporate learning — but it’s only one variable in today’s learning mix. Add virtual ILT classrooms; e-learning modules; peer-to-peer mentoring; collaborative knowledge-sharing; embedded mobile learning tutorials with real-time social media support, online libraries and contextual search engines, company document repositories…the list of options grows longer and more creative everyday, as technology innovation opens new doors.
To select the best channel mix, again, we must have deep understanding of learning scenarios. That’s where instructional design experts can add tremendous value. But even then – with content, context and channel aligned, learning is not a sure thing. In reality, there are so many potential distractions and distortions along the way, there’s always a possibility that the connection may fall short.
Workplace learning points of failure aren’t always easy to avoid or to analyze. But this is where learning experts, technology vendors and business managers should work together and focus on moving toward better solutions.
These days, it seems that many learning industry professionals prefer to debate about where LMS platforms fit into today’s mix of formal, informal and social tools. Others seem interested in endlessly discussing semantics — what label is best to describe platforms that support learning in complex, networked environments.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Each day, our customers ask us to help them create better ways to facilitate knowledge transfer, skills development and performance support in real business settings.
The enterprise environment is inherently complex and constantly changing. Learning will always be a part of that process — for any organization’s employees and contractors, departmental and cross-functional teams, business partners and customers.
As our CEO noted last year, when outlining our organization’s commitment to putting learners’ needs first, “Today’s problems can’t be solved with yesterday’s approaches.”
Imagine this: What if we stopped looking at LMS platforms as monolithic, top-down “training delivery” mechanisms? Instead, what if they worked as filters that make it possible to find, use and process actionable information far more easily than we could on our own? What if we saw them as companions that help guide us effortlessly across multiple sources of knowledge, guidance and support and along meaningful, relevant pathways? What if we embraced them as tools that help us shift seamlessly between organizational boundaries, business domains and learning modes?
That’s our goal. It’s lofty — but why not aim high?
The more friction we can remove from workplace learning processes, the better positioned organizations will be to advance their business agendas.
We believe it’s worth the effort.
To see how we put this philosophy into action with the ExpertusONE continuous learning platform, contact us anytime to schedule a demonstration with me or one of my colleagues.
Note from Tom: What is the future of enterprise learning, in your opinion? To discover more about how a cloud LMS can play a pivotal role in workforce development and performance management at your company, visit our website. Or email questions and comments to me at email@example.com.
Image Credit: Pixabay