Digitization has fundamentally changed the way we work, communicate, and learn. The always-on employee is giving rise to new opportunities for learning and development (L&D), and organizations that are not quick enough to grasp this potential will be left behind. First and foremost, organizations need to wake up to the limitations of restricting themselves to formal learning programs – starting with planning and travel costs incurred when coordinating face-to-face training. Second, in a connected world, leveraging the employees’ network and their own experiences is a far more effective way to build a culture of learning.
The advent of cloud, social, and mobile technology has opened up so many new possibilities and experiences for learning that such investments have become a top L&D priority for businesses, according to a recent study from Brandon Hall Group. Unfortunately, the satisfaction levels with technology currently deployed in the L&D discipline are abysmally low.
Designing a learning experience
Employers have to focus on designing a great learning experience. Yet, learning management systems (LMS) still account for approximately 40% of the learning technology budget while social and mobile account for five percent and four percent, respectively, of the learning budget. However, it is the social and mobile learning platforms that will occupy the top two priority areas for spending going forward. Learning is becoming more byte sized and integrated into the workspace, and it is not surprising that agile organizations are rapidly embracing these technologies to allow for a new, “just in time, just for me” experience for their employees.
Ease of use and access to engaging but relevant content are two key drivers of the learning experience, but lack of informal learning opportunities makes it hard to create a culture that celebrates learning. While informal learning opportunities and experiential learning programs are easy to deploy on social and mobile platforms, organizations are still struggling to master the possibilities that these two platforms can create.
Limited understanding of how to execute a mobile strategy is, in fact, the reason why a mere 10% of companies are actively using mobile, Web-based learning solutions today. Similarly, while social media is becoming increasingly mainstream, businesses are failing to use this medium effectively for L&D opportunities. Companies are restricting their use to document sharing, discussion forums, and blogs. However, the real potential of social tools is the ability to leverage videos and microblogs and to encourage a two-way, peer-to-peer communication – empowering employees to share information and stories and learn from each other.
Companies definitely have a long way to go in building a culture that celebrates informal and continuous learning, sharing, and building expertise. But it can also be easier than it looks. Here’s a quick list of five ideas to get the ball rolling for your organization:
- Launch a YouTube channel for your department or account to showcase your team members’ intelligence and talent.
- Leverage your network to invite an entrepreneur, artist, customer, or any external speaker to discuss their experiences.
- Shadow a colleague from another department and report lessons learned to your team members in a short 10-minute talk.
- Teach your team a new skill in 30 minutes. Then, invite team members to lead a session and offer their expertise on a particular skill.
- Watch a TED talk with your team or listen to a podcast together followed by a discussion.
With L&D technology, employees from even the most distributed teams have an opportunity to upgrade each other’s skills and motivate a colleague to learn something new. Creating informal opportunities to learn can be a very powerful way for teams to bond – and even unleash the creative talent of your team.
For more on offering compelling L&D opportunities for your team, see How to Create a Culture of Continuous Learning.