Skilling redefined, the approach is changing

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Organizations are fast leaning towards effective learning solutions by combining the human element with technology. They are strategizing program development around concepts like social learning, gamification, and micro-learning to maximize results for their talent development initiatives.

Corporate entities and organizations strive hard to have a competitive edge in the global market by leveraging the latest technologies, adopting new strategies and methods to improve productivity. Organizations also aim at balancing the human component with the new elements that technology brings.

When it comes to skilling your organization’s workforce, whether it be a simple action or ritual that employees are learning to implement or a complex and nuanced area like diversity and inclusion – the approach is changing.

Skilling Today is Getting Redefined

Today organizations are result driven, they want talent development initiatives to drive change and be effective. They want talent investments to meet business objectives with a clear path to apply and track it.

The rapid pace of progress in almost every walk of life including education has necessitated the exploration of new innovations, ideas, and strategies for learning and skill development. The most important facet of skill acquirement, however, is that it has to be continuously updated & upgraded.

Organizations are fast leaning towards effective learning solutions by combining the human element with technology. They are strategizing program development around concepts like social learning, gamification, and micro-learning to maximize results for their talent development initiatives.

Let’s start by first understanding Skill & the impact of technology in building skills today.

Skill, as per Wikipedia, is the ability to carry out the task with determined results often with a great amount of time, energy or both.

Dictionary.com defines it as the ability or talent that comes from training or practice.

Reading through various definitions, we can consider Skill to be a ‘developed ability’ to do something – for example, swimming, driving, cooking, etc. These are abilities that are developed over time and improve with sustained effort.

To understand how skill development initiatives are being redefined, it is important to understand the design component first. We should create program designs, keeping in mind the outcome we are looking at achieving by the end of the intervention. This would allow us to structure the learning delivery & include components like social and microlearning, gamification in a better fashion.

“The way talent development departments should approach design is by first understanding the need for the initiative being planned, the problem it aims at solving and the impact on business it will have.”

Clear & well-defined goals will help in better design and also set a clear path of how the skill development initiative will take shape.

Clear goals are defined by well-written learning objectives that are competency-based. Competency-based learning objectives are tangible and can articulate the result of implementing a learning module with clarity. 

This will also play a critical role in implementing Micro or byte-sized learning, where well-defined learning objectives will ensure that the content of the module is specific & to the point.

We also have to keep a track of changing technologies and have a keen eye on how the future of learning is shaping up.

In today’s world, technological advancements change at such a rapid pace that sometimes it becomes difficult to keep abreast. By the time a particular technology in any field is popularized, implemented & adopted, a new one appears which seems to disrupt what already exists.

With AI (Artificial Intelligence) & ML (Machine Learning) taking center stage, technology today is looking at creating a big disruption in all spheres of life & work including learning. The least we can do as professionals engaged in talent development is to stay updated or there are high chances that we become redundant.

The choices of tools & technologies which we make now will be the key to the success of our current and future initiatives.

A deep understanding of Social learning, Micro-learning & Gamification will help us design & implement both online & classroom-based initiatives well.

Social learning– Social learning is associated with learning in groups or interacting in a virtual environment using social norms, including social media. Social media sites & tools like Facebook, Workplace, LinkedIn are coming up with options which enhance the social learning experience and propagate priorities, values & philosophies that organizations want to inculcate.

Micro-learning– Microlearning is delivery of byte-sized content in the form of infographic, videos, audios, quizzes, pie charts, storyline or through various web-based tools & apps which run on computers & handy mobile & tablet devices. A defining characteristic of these bite-size nuggets is that they are easy to search and are immediately relevant and applicable.

However, Micro-learning need not be limited to the virtual world. It can also be created for classroom delivery via facilitators by using a little imagination.

Gamification– Gamification on the other hand is about the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) in learning delivery & implementation.  It is used to enhance participant engagement & experience level and also to make sessions (online or in the classroom) more experiential & competitive. It increases participation levels and also helps in learning retention.

As shown by the trends above, learners themselves are driving the change in the way learning is being delivered.

New age learners have to be provided with new knowledge and skills in the least possible time, with good speed and complete clarity.

The delivery of byte-sized content is the key to this. It ensures that the chunk of information is created and prepared in small sizes and gives a relevant insight and specific information to the learner.

Now, while designing solutions for creating the new-age learning experience, we need to keep the following in mind: Try to understand the audience and their specific requirements

  • Focus on keeping the solution brief and precise
  • Don’t give too much information
  • Be informal
  • Include gamification
  • Provide the mechanism for assessment of learners through short quizzes, multiple-choice questions, etc
  • Use of Online classrooms/ Conferencing tools (Skype, zoom, Microsoft meetings, etc) with an option of breakout rooms, polls, Q&A boxes, virtual backgrounds, etc while conducting instructor lead programs online
  • Follow-up tools like Results Lab (www.resultslab.in) may help in social learning, implementation of both classroom and online learning and act as a platform for change in behavior & achieving effectiveness at Kirkpatrick L3 & L4 post-training.

The success of next-generation programs will depend largely on how engaging & simple they are – use of visual tools like videos, animations, infographics, charts, etc are being preferred by students and learners worldwide. We must remember our brain processes visuals faster than the normal text & provides superior engagement of learners.

Next-generation learning solutions should be handy and should run on mobile, tablets as well as computer platforms. The ease of accessing learning content based on micro-learning parameters through apps and tools on personalized mobile devices will prove to be a game-changer in the learning industry.

 The next-gen advantages for L&D teams should include better coordination with learners, understanding of learner needs, ease of sharing, reduced cost of infrastructure and savings on money spent in creating and distributing training material.

Dedicated IT teams to maintain expensive e-learning infrastructure is slowly becoming redundant as these tools move to the more cost-effective cloud, thus further benefitting the organization.

The factors mentioned above could explain why organizations these days prefer to combine micro-learning, social learning & gamification to boost the learner experience.

Even classroom trainings should follow micro &byte-sized learning modules with a focus of one competency or a group of similar competencies being covered in one session. The time for one, two & multiple-day workshops may soon be over as the new-age learners often find it long and boring; they prefer a learning methodology which is easier and faster and runs at the pace of their choice.

Classroom learning should also include social learning components for learning implementation as social learning enables the learners to discuss content, share insights and share their experiences post workshops. It also boosts their interest and triggers curiosity, leading to continued interest in the topic.

Hence, the best approach would be to combine social learning and microlearning. This will help in devising a training module that may comprise byte-sized, crisp, focused learning objects.

To get the best results, the following recommendations are in order:

  • Content of the learning nuggets should be prepared in multiple formats as mentioned earlier 
  • The bytes sized crisp content should be transmitted through easy to use learning tools with a good user interface to experience.
  • It should also include components of social learning where people can tag other people, comment, hit like, appreciate each other and celebrate small wins in understanding and application. 
  • The platform should allow them to ask questions and interact, ensuring their doubts and queries are responded to.

Conclusion

To summarize, redefining skill development will need talent development leaders to combine easy to use, reliable, multi-device friendly technologies, with great user experience. They will have to create the learning architecture with a clear focus on well-defined learning objectives and also use tools like social learning, microlearning, gamification & learning implementation tools to drive the success of their learning initiatives.

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