A Challenging Yet Exciting Experience

A Challenging Yet Exciting Experience

For Learning & Development, the world of upskilling the workforce is very challenging yet exciting. In their new role, “N = 1”, where each learner is unique with expectations of a personalised learning experience.


The inclusion of Tech in Learning and Development (L&D) in the form of Learning Management Systems, Gamification, MOOCs and Virtual Reality learning experiences have enabled Learning Organisations to rid themselves of the acronym ‘One-Size-Fits-All’. How would you like to respond to this?


L&D as a function is at the cusp of massive transformations. The influx of digital technology has changed the way to work, learn and connect with people. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the role of digital technology in the way people acquire new skills. We have made radical progress from using technology as a mere tool to record learning data and as a platform to deliver learning content to an enabler for delivering hyper-personalised learning experiences.


We are marching towards the democratisation of learning in its true sense. A host of available MOOCs, engaging platforms like YouTube and the penetration of mobile internet have put learners at the centre stage.


For Learning & Development, the world of upskilling the workforce is very challenging yet exciting. In their new role, “N = 1”, where each learner is unique with expectations of a personalised learning experience. Most of the new age learning platforms focus on user experience, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML) enabled platforms are taking content curation and learner experience to the next level. For L&D professionals, it is imperative that the focus is on making learning more personalised and aligned to the role and career needs.


Following questions have to be addressed while designing any learning intervention:–


•  Why would learners learn? – Incentive or motivation to learn


•  What do they need to learn? – Relevance of learning


•  How do they prefer to learn? – The way in which content is delivered


 When do they want to learn? – The point at which learning is followed by application


Learning today is happening based on User Generated content in various forms. For instance, the Millennials and Gen Z are using Tik Tok like apps to share information. On the flipside, such apps are seen as distracting and highly addictive. How can this be used to ensure a balance without impacting the actual learning experience?


Integration of User Generated Content (UGC) is at a naissance stage in corporate learning and it has the potential to make inroads into corporate learning. The omnipresent smartphone has propelled the colonisation of User Generated Content (UGC) in the digital world. According to Statista, more than 500 hours of videos gets uploaded on YouTube every minute. Tik Tok has over a billion active users on its platform.


The availability of such advanced user-friendly platforms is revolutionising the way we socialise our learnings. These platforms are highly engaging and have the reach to the masses. These content sharing platforms are technically sophisticated, engaging and addictive. What remains a challenge is the lack of governance as far as the quality of content is concerned.


To make these platforms fit for corporate learning there is a need to leverage their high “engagement quotient” and work upon the quality of content. There has to be a mechanism to formalise the use of such platforms. Such platforms can enhance the impact of peer and social learning.


Now that it is established that these platforms are extremely high on “engagement quotient”, we need to find out ways in which quality user generated content find a place. Almost all these platforms have channels that specifically focus on education and learning and we need to leverage them.


We have reached the time and age where Virtual Learning has made inroads in the medical space by way of a learning platform for medical practitioners to share casebased knowledge. According to you, how best can such a platform be used at an intra-organisational level as a knowledge-sharing platform?


I believe this is already happening to some extent through the ways of knowledge management in many learning organisations. Ford is one such example from the past. Cloud technology has made the accessibility of knowledge seamless and easy. Many new-age IT/ITES and internet companies are leveraging it for better engagement with customers and employees. Of late, virtual collaboration platforms have impelled the reach of social learning and sharing of knowledge through webinars and communities of practice.


There is scope in this area for various functions to come out of their silos and collaborate to create a common digital repository for knowledge. There are myriad tools available in the market that can be directly integrated with the existing Learning platforms. The barrier here is the organisational bureaucracy which degrades the value of multiplying effect of sharing knowledge. The democratisation of learning is the key to leveraging the power of organisation knowledge repository.


In its more evolved role, L&D functions need to emphasise on intra-organisational knowledge sharing. It involves two critical aspects:


•  Tools for recording and creating a repository of knowledge


•  Making knowledge available for learners at the point of need


According to Stephen Walsh, the Co-Founder of Andres Pink, nearly every organisation intends to integrate learning into work schedules since they are not content with the outcomes of face-to-face learning and also with the fact that it makes a slight bump in their profits. How can a programme be carved out so that learning and profitability remain synchronous with each other?


Globally, companies spend over $200 billion every year on employee training. However, there is hardly any case where the Learning objectives are aligned to expressed in terms of business outcomes. It is of utmost importance that we design a learning programme with the end objective in mind. L&D objectives must be expressed in terms of business outcomes. One way to establish a strong linkage is by flipping the Kirkpatrick model – by beginning with the expected business results in mind.


L&D function should focus on making information and learning available at the time of need. This helps to make learning more application-focused by integrating learning in the flow of work.


The effectiveness of a learning intervention must be assessed by incorporating business matrices. Some of the ways in which learning effectiveness could be measuring are things like an increase in sales, improved customer rating or reducing the number of defects.


In 2009, Google developed the Automatic Captions Video App to enable deaf people to decipher videos. Likewise, AI-powered Cloud Vision API provides the textual version of an image to aid people who are blind. So, are Tech-driven or AI-driven learning systems going to replace conventional classroom learning?


There is no doubt that the impact of LXPs on corporate L&D is tremendous and is definitely redefining the ways we upskill and reskill our workforce. Leveraging the new age Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning technologies, LXP can aggregate and curate the relevant learning content in a more engaging manner. However, the benefits of classroom-based learning cannot be completely negated.


A traditional classroom helps in bringing discipline and focus in learning and creating a safe environment for learning. A facilitator-led classroom training also has the adaptability to address the specific needs of the learners. Learning is a social phenomenon and group interactions propel the impact of learning. It also helps in creating a personal network for learning which open more learning avenues for the future.


Ideally, both tech-based and classroom learning should complement each other. Both offer benefits and we need to leverage them while overcoming their shortfalls. The future of learning will be an amalgamation of traditional and contemporary ways of learning.


Can you tell us about the use of new-age technology in the L&D space and the way forward for technology in Learning and Development?


Tech-enabled learning platforms are not only improving the scalability but are also making learning more aligned to the business goals, more flexible, and more engaging for the learners. In recent times, we have been leveraging technology in multiple ways:


•  Virtual collaboration tools like Zoom and MS Teams are great platforms to conduct virtual classes. With few limitations, they serve as a good substitute to a physical classroom. Features like virtual breakout rooms make them well-equipped for small group activities/discussions. z AI/ML enabled learning experience platforms (LXPs) are revolutionising the L&D function. These highly sophisticated platforms are able to create personalised course recommendations for the learners. They understand the learner’s profile and their preferences and create their virtual persona and curate content that are aligned to their learning needs, preferences and styles.


•  Simulations and game-based learning are extremely engaging and effective for the learners. Simulations are an effective tool for application of acquired knowledge in a safe environment.


•  Content development tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, Visme and Doodly enable the creation of engaging presentations and videos. Such tools add great value to facilitation


•  Virtual Reality (VR) tools are ideal for experiential learning in a safe and controlled environment. VR is an ideal training tool for dangerous and high-stake situations.


 There are many tech-enabled tools that are transforming the corporate learning ecosystem. Tech-enabled learning tools will be key to future of reskilling and upskilling. The next big challenge will be to embed learning in the flow of work and using technology to align learning with the business outcomes.


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