The challenge of learning in 2021
There has been seismic shift towards digital learning throughout the pandemic. For organisations who wanted to continue developing their teams and maintaining compliance it was necessary to take this path quickly.
As we all start to work towards our new model of working, with a mix of home and office becoming the norm, we need to find ways to continue development journeys for all of our colleagues, without losing engagement or exposing them to more screen time than is necessary.
We've been doing lots of work over the last year in the digital world and we've arrived at a point in time where we have an opportunity to achieve true blended learning. Appreciating that face-to-face time is a real luxury, and will continue to be considered as such, the blended approach must exploit every available channel to optimise the learner experience.
I know that my own views on digital learning have changed. Quite considerably. Let's rewind to the Learning Technologies exhibition in 2019. We started the year with a massive fanfare at the exhibition as an oasis of face to face training in a sea of (often mediocre) eLearning. Our message was clear... eLearning doesn't engage people as well as face to face can.
Fast forward to 2021 and I still think that many eLearning 'providers' exhaust me in their failure to get learning right. Some of these organisations are hugely successful and make millions of pounds every year.
In my view, eLearning can only be useful when it is part of a wider approach to learning. We still need face to face (even if that is in a virtual classroom) but that face time needs to really count. There are hundreds of ways to learn. Face to face and eLearning are just two of them.
Without a clear strategy and pathway your learning will never be as effective as it has the potential to be.
Face to face won't save the learning world. Neither will eLearning. A true blended approach is what is needed. Online training, podcasts, audio books, internal communications strategies, ongoing assessment and development for compliance, video based learning, activity-led facilitation, virtual classroom, discussion in plenary, reflection... I could go on.
Only those L&D teams that master using all of them will be able to engage their people fully in the learning content. From what I see on Linkedin everyday, there is still a way to go for many. Some don't want to embrace a change, some think that they can avoid the change, some think that everything can be built as eLearning and all will be fine... I think that deep down we all know different to that.
So what makes brilliant blended learning?
For me it breaks down into 8 key areas. I see myself as the guardian of quality at Acceler8, so every programme, experience, workshop or eLearning module we craft will always have these 8 elements at its core.
Understanding why something is the way it is. Why is a participant doing this? What needs to be achieved?
The learning environment is available to you in any format to reinforce key learning messages. In the eLearning arena, the environment that is created is even more important.
Remembering that learning completed on a device is always completed by a human. Seeing things through the human lens is key. Our relationship with our selves and with others needs to be explored as part of any eLearning interaction.
What you hear is important. Tone of voice, use of music, expression are all examples of the importance of sound. Brilliant eLearning will harness the power of all of these.
Applying logic to learning, allowing time and space to solve a problem appeals to that part of the brain that loves to overcome obstacles and find an answer.
Emotional intelligence has to form the basis of any eLearning approach. Using it effectively will only enhance the participant experience in front of the screen.
Activity can facilitate a change a state for a learner. There are no exceptions to this rule, every eLearning session should be packed full of practical things to do to explore the topic.
You can spot alien language a mile off - and so can your participants. When eLearning gets the language right (in terms of what the participants need, underpinned by the language of the organisation, then the learning transfer is more effective.
None of these work independently, they are all part of the greater experience. If one is missing, the experience will be lacking no matter how much you think you've nailed it. As learning professionals, we will never have a better opportunity to create and curate true blended learning.
Don't waste that opportunity.