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Learner engagement: why any corporate learning has to have the learner at its centre

31st Jul 2018

For too long, our business learning culture hasn’t really been working, but times are changing. Today’s always-on working environment requires a system with users at its heart.

The speed of technological disruption is accelerating and in our rapidly changing job market, with new job roles constantly emerging, we need to up-skill to survive, so training is crucial.

We demand it from our employers, but things are amiss with the whole corporate training model. A top down approach that is slow and inflexible secures user engagement levels as perilously low as 5 - 10%, and completion rates as low as 2 - 3%, which just won’t suffice.

This is mainly because it’s money down the drain. To translate these numbers into annual L&D budgets, that means that even the low number who agree to go on internal training courses, or download company supplied e-learning barely complete what the HR leadership thinks they should.

This is a serious waste of valuable corporate budget in unforgiving competitive times, which no CFO or CEO can be sanguine about.

We need training, as organisations. We need to get team members updated on vital new data protection (e.g. GDPR) legislation, changed health and safety regulations, equality and diversity initiatives, as well as task-oriented learning to help them do their jobs better, for example equipping the global sales team on the compelling new features of the latest release of our core product.

HR and training leaders need to place the learner's experience back at the top of the priority list for any new learning project in order to bridge the gap.

To get corporate learning back to being a great and worthwhile investment, the picture needs to be flipped – urgently. We need a way to connect back with the learner and find a way to deliver what they want and need. We also need to rethink the way content is delivered.

We must ask ourselves if it is realistic to expect people who work remotely and anytime to stop everything and sit in front of a trainer droning on at them with a Powerpoint presentation and a laser pointer for eight solid hours.

Too much business training is the product of a learning culture that does not reflect the reality of work pressures and our daily digital lives, and how we want to learn.

It’s also a culture that assumes learners are passive objects that can just get shuffled in and out, uncomplainingly, of all those unexciting company training rooms.

The missing element

The siren of change is getting louder. According to the new Market Guide for Corporate Learning Suites from global analysts Gartner, HR and training leaders need to place the learner's experience back at the top of the priority list for any new learning project in order to bridge the gap.

Gartner provides useful clues on how to do this by identifying a new corporate L&D aid plus new market segment – the Learning Experience Platform (LEP). This is an additional portal layer that expands the range of content and enhances learner engagement with training content.

LEPs are a class of HR support that include content creation and off-the-shelf content that are designed to improve the learner experience by embedding learning into daily activities or the applications on which staff spend the most time.

The next frontier in this user-centric business learning culture is the move towards adaptive learning, in which content and teaching frameworks are definitively customised to the individual.

What does this way of supporting training look like in practice? It’s actually pretty close to what you and I are already doing in our day-to-day lives – for a reason.

We live on our phones. We all try and make dead time waiting for a train or a phone call as useful as possible, looking for content – and we refuse to be delayed by a knowledge gap, turning to the internet to plug any lack of understanding when identified. To let off steam, we might play a mobile game for a minute or two.

Imagine training delivered that way – mobile, always available, in short episodes, and where appropriate, in a quiz or battle format for fun.

Need to know about Blockchain? You could send me on a two-day residential course once a year – or offer me a way to grab five to eight minutes of useful content, supported by video, when I have focus and want a bite-sized hit of learning then and there.

Asking the learner questions before any teaching takes place (the flipped pedagogy model) pinpoints their level and means they’ll be offered the lessons they actually need.

The picture I hope you see emerging is of a new, powerful and flexible learning culture to help the learners on the ground and day-by-day.

A user-centric culture

Finally, the next frontier in this user-centric business learning culture is the move towards adaptive learning, in which content and teaching frameworks are definitively customised to the individual.

We know Gartner have spotted a genuine change here, as we have seen it ourselves with our clients who use learner-centric LEP technology to do the very thing Gartner wants.

“We are witnessing growing buyer requirements for better personalisation, especially for learner recommendations and individual learner paths. In addition, with the improvements in mobile, video and collaborative capabilities, coupled with learner preference for ‘bite-sized’ learning, we're seeing mounting demand for micro learning,” says the Gartner report.

The next step for any L&D leader who wants to help develop staff human potential, in order to up-skill and future-proof their workforce, is to complement their existing training support with the best of a customised LEP approach. It’s a great way to secure your competitive edge, and the very best of your staff.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Expand your knowledge by reading Five easy ways to increase learner engagement

Replies (6)

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By Isavedtheking
01st Aug 2018 11:47

Where did the engagement and completion rates referenced come from?

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By j.motnagna2390
01st Aug 2018 16:07

With this model of training how do you expect the content to stick with the employee over time? I feel like this is good for convenience and more customer service based, which I feel like shouldn't be an new thing. I feel like old business practices have made it difficult to push this methodology. I do think it's a great method of delivering training, but I think it still needs to be blended with other methods in order to create a lasting impact on the user.

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By eamondoherty
03rd Aug 2018 12:07

Jean-Marc, I have to say I think all your points are completely accurate. L&D must change due to low staff involement and anytime/anywhere mobile micorlearning is what is needed. Checking user confidence and skill in the area and then providing releavant short burst learning with video straight to their smart phone (possibly using XAPI technology/coding to treck and monitor engagement) Great to hear someone speak my truth to me!

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By ThomasMaloney
16th Jan 2019 09:35

I don't know what kind of businesses people have been operating, but I've always know that customers need to be placed first if you want a sustainable solution for your business to run. I mean clearly you need to have a good and useful product in addition to a good operational system in storage and distribution, but if your customers are not happy with your services and problem resolution, you're not going to get anywhere anyway!

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By ChristopherJames
22nd Jan 2019 07:01

We all know how we wouldn't be able to perform if we are not prepared. This means that we need to first improve the learner experience before we can touch on user experience. It is a cycle that comes together in a package which we need to bind together as one in order for them to work well hand-in-hand.

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By KDeepa
24th Jul 2020 15:15

Absolutely ! The learner experience has to be at the top of the priority list for any kind of training program. Sharing an article on ideas to increase learner engagement in eLearning courses.

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