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Essay

What Is Your Digital Learning Strategy?

Digital learning is where it’s at – if you want to attract learner’s attention, meet them where they are, when they need information, and then help them to retain it.

nailing down a digital learning strategyAccording to Spherion Staffing’s 2016 Emerging Workforce Study, as many as 45 percent of employees said their current internal training offerings are not relevant to their daily responsibilities. That’s not good. To better engage modern workforces, meet their career development needs and achieve competitive business results, organizations must become digitally omnipresent for their learners.

Supporting employees when and where they need it requires U.S. corporations to refocus their learning and development spend toward digital learning transformation. Current technology, backed by neuroscience and analytics, are key to achieve transformation. That also means learning leaders have to scale digital learning throughout the business for the long term.

Be Where Gen C Is

Many organizations have begun to significantly digitize learning, primarily as attempts to stay connected with their learning populations and reduce costs associated with traditional methods such as instructor-led training and tutorial-heavy courses. It’s important to note that a proper digital transformation isn’t merely about converting content into electronic format, it focuses on what is relevant to Generation C, workers who have adopted connected devices in their daily lives and expect a similar, high level of sophistication at work.

The content they digest is easily accessible, relevant and personalized, which is why Google has become the default learning management system for the modern, connected worker. Because employees of all ages are increasingly fulfilling their learning needs outside of corporate training environments using Google and Siri, employers must move past traditional methods of learning and measurement toward omnipresent learning activities and cognitive analytics that can make sense of big data to further personalize the learning experience.

Omnipresent learning requires an organization’s learning ecosystem to support employees at any location, time and device, with frictionless access to content. This means 30-second video clips, socially-fueled conversations and knowledge, external sources of information, and multimodal search engines with natural-language dialog queries can and should be used to help employees find useful, corporate-influenced content while on the job.

Know and Care What Your Learners Need Next

Many organizations feel they have a good handle on traditional learning measurement, but post-learning event surveys cannot capture the clickstream of employees’ daily, online learning activities. Learning has yet to evolve to the level the marketing world is comfortable with. That industry has leveraged digital commerce to tune into its advertising spend in real time, using attribution modeling to track customers’ paths from mobile device query to purchase, and every website or ad in between.

To gain a solid understanding of workforces’ behavior and preferences, employers should use a similar, modern analytics approach, and track elements like topics searched and shared socially, time viewing learning videos, engagement with corporate content, and tie these with people analytics from HR systems.

With the explosion of digital content and resources, content curation will be critical to ensure relevant and contextual content is presented. By taking this a step further with technology other industries are already using, such as cognitive analytics and natural-language dialog systems, a business will be able to predict, prescribe and serve what each learner is looking for.

Think Like a Learner. Act Like an Organization

No matter how great a company’s plans for transformation, it won’t come to fruition unless high-level sponsorship is aligned with business objectives. Leadership support for transformation can get lost trying to choose among the overwhelming number of new technologies that have become available in just the past decade. That’s why it’s imperative to begin with data that supports objectives, and then evaluate technology, not the other way around.

Neuroscience research shows that learners forget more than 70 percent of what they learn within one day, unless it is applied immediately or reinforced repeatedly. If costly ILT sessions mostly make employees smarter for only 24 hours after they leave the building, it makes sense to invest in technology and methods that can prolong knowledge retention.

Space out training over time, with periods for reflection, collaboration and practice. For instance, use MOOCs/SPOCs and modeling tools to enable better retention with less hours of training. These learning delivery methods also allow opportunities for more engagement; gamification and social collaboration are logical extensions. Organizations can coordinate with vendors and their IT leads to do a proof of concept and potentially a pilot to get tools approved.

Finally, remember that younger generations aren’t the only ones that will benefit from the new digital technologies and more personalized and nimble approaches afforded today. Generation C is a new animal, encompassing all five generations found in today’s workplace, and they are learning at this very moment – likely with content sourced on their own from outside the organization.

Phil Antonelli is director of business strategy and innovation at Conduent Learning Services. Comment below or email editor@CLOmedia.com.

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