Focus on Integration: Connecting Learning to the Right Systems

As the human capital technology landscape expands and solutions become more specialized, integration has become more critical than ever. Not only do we need to think about how each of these talent-focused platforms work together, but how they work together with other systems within and outside of the organization.

According to Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Learning Technologies survey, integration capabilities are one of the top-three most important criteria organizations have for their learning technology providers, with 46% saying it is essential and 30% saying it is critical these services are available.

In an environment where fewer than half (44%) of companies are looking to get a suite of integrated talent management modules, it is important organizations understand the ins and outs of integration.

Developing a High-Octane Approach to Learning

The new learning audience is dynamic, mobile and highly sophisticated.
L&D teams must push the envelope
to create new blended learning strategies.

 

Organizations today are quickly understanding that their learning strategies need to be restructured. With changes in how work is performed (telecommuting, globalization, decentralized workforces) and in the learning audience itself (Baby Boomers to Gen Me), organizations face the most complex learning environment ever presented.

The fundamental driver for this quickly increasing level of complexity is that learning in all forms must take a blended approach to attract the learner to want to learn and maximize depth and length of retention. Learning that isn’t appealing to the learner (i.e., fun, interesting and highly relevant to their professional and personal development) will go nowhere.

There are two components to making learning appealing:

  • Learning Content Development, which must employ imagery and mixed media with eye-popping graphics that draw the learner into the subject.
  • Delivery, which must be multi-modal to keep the learner’s attention and make the learning easy to apply. Most importantly, the delivery must be done in a way that provides performance support at the time of need of the learner. The days of the one size fits all course have come to a close.

These principles apply to all forms of learning, including mandatory and compliance training. Just because learning is required doesn’t mean that learners will remember it or apply it – and they will go kicking and screaming into having to participate. The most heavily regulated organization must apply a blended learning strategy that compels people to want to learn and offers an engaging way to do so.

We also must realize that learning is happening all around us in the workplace. In today’s need for learning and training that is relevant and available at the speed of business, employees seek out what they need to know, from whomever has it.

Organizations must understand that the new learning audience is dynamic, mobile and highly sophisticated. Learning and Development teams must push the envelope to create new blended learning strategies that embody an instructional, collaborative and formative approach that attracts and motivates the learner. But do we understand how to develop a high-octane blended learning approach? How do we make sure that this approach is aligned with the needs and compliance requirements of the business?

We must develop learning strategies that include:

  • Multiple modalities that promote and encourage a mix of company and learner-generated content
  • Socialization and discussion around the learning
  • Coaching and mentoring to help reinforce the learning
  • Real-world practical application that encourages learners to embrace a new way of thinking and acting.

Without this approach, learning will just be a “check the box” exercise with no discernable impact on individual or organizational performance.

 

Contributor

Michael_Rochelle_Headshot-073Michael Rochelle
Chief Strategy Officer and Principal HCM Analyst, Brandon Hall Group
Twitter: @MichaelRochelle

Michael oversees consulting, strategic services, and advisory support for Brandon Hall Group members. Michael is also one of the company’s principal analysts covering topics such as learning, talent, sales and marketing, and executive management.

Michael will be the keynote speaker at NextSteps 2016, NetDimensions’ Global User Conference, on April 13th – 15th. Learn more at the NextSteps website.

Gamification Ideas for Learning & Development Programs

In our previous post, we discussed the concept of gamification and how it puts both play and healthy competition back into learning and staff development. Now that you understand how gamification can support your learning program’s strategic goals, how do you get started?

Let’s start with the understanding that there are two general types of gamification activities in learning development:

  • Structural Gamification – assigning points, badges or rewards to structure a competition among an organization’s employees, business units or extended enterprise. Points or rewards could be achieved various elements of a curriculum or a course such as achieving passing scores on a required certification within a specified timeframe. Generally, these scores would be posted on a leaderboard or something similar, often within your learning management system or a dedicated learning portal.
  • Content Gamification – when gamification elements are wholly integrated into the content and the context is more game-like.  The entire course does not have to be game-like, rather just certain activities that add a level of completion.

Again, the intent is not create a game in and of itself, but to offer elements that make the learning more interesting and reward learners so they are more connected to the content.

A good place to start when considering gamification is to consider adding a structural framework to measure learner achievement and display it for others to view. 

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Points for completion of courses. If learners have profiles in your learning management system, make these points or cumulative score as part of the profile so they have an instant reminder of their progress.
  • Badges earned by learners as they pass assessments or achieve point levels. For example, for a basic assessment they could earn the “Newbie” badge and as they progress they earn other badges either tied to skill level (e.g. “Expert”) or to terms relative to the content (e.g. “Master Crafter” for construction focused content).  As users accumulate points from above and cross certain thresholds, give them a badge (e.g. 500 points = “Just Getting Started” and 1,000 points = “Getting Things Done”).
  • Leaderboards make the results visible and introduce a competitive nature to the learning experience. We suggest sharing everyone’s progress and featuring the current leaders in terms of points and badge accumulation.

Once you move past structural gamification, we get to Content Gamification where the level of effort increases – but so does the potential to create a dynamic learning experience.  Effective content Gamification for adult learners should always include three elements: 1) a timed experience, 2) the ability to accede to new levels, and 3) the assignment of points or other rewards for each step of a gaming experience.

Some examples of content gamification include:

  • Timed quizzes/knowledge checks: achieve more points for accuracy on the first try, more points for completing within certain established time ranges; adding audible or visual reinforcements such as bells for correct answers can make this experience more fun as well.
  • Simulations – create online versions of real world situations where trainees need to solve problems. Just like pilots that train in a safe environment, this gives your teams an opportunity to try different problem solving techniques and be rewarded for their success.
  • Immersive Experiences – providing a rich interactive experience brings learners deeper into content and lets them focus on the learning objectives. Potential opportunities in an immersive experience include:
    • Scenario-driven situations with branching
    • Story based experiences
    • Quests and challenges

The objective here is to create an immersive experience that wraps gamification around the learning content. And in these types of experiences, you can still add activities such as point accumulations, rewards, badges, levels, and other recognition that add a competitive framework to the learning process.

When you are done implementing any of these methods, you will have created a learning experience that creates active learners who willingly participate in an enjoyable learning program – while satisfying your strategic training and learning objectives.

For more about Gamification and its potential for learning and development, download our white paper “Gamification – Does it have a place in your L&D Content Development.”

Cross-over potential?

There is a lovely post at TNW (The Next Web) on how open resource initiatives are putting first-rate academic teaching online for free.

You can find it here.

It got me thinking — it would be easy to incorporate some of this free material in corporate courseware and offer it via LMS catalogues. We have a publishing technology we call The Courseware Manager in our LMS which allows users to easily mix and match content inside a SCORM wrapper. It would be child’s play to bundle some of the open academic resources with company specific content and testing.

It’s an interesting idea. I wonder how many companies are doing things like this.

The cost of managing your content vs. same-old, same-old

Fig1CmapAboutCmaps-largeThe high cost of creating a management framework for content becomes quickly apparent. The effort, which can be messy and frustrating, requires not only a lot of an organization’s internal time and attention but also a fair amount of help from outside consultants. Just doing an initial inventory and creating a governance structure to move forward with proves painful, time consuming and expensive for many organizations.

The irony of course is that the cost of doing nothing — just letting everyone continue to write Word documents, PDFs and PowerPoints and make rapid e-learning courses on an ad hoc basis (again and again, based on the same or very similar content) — often proves far higher to the organization than the cost of change.

However, the cost of doing nothing, unless you audit it in sophisticated ways, is invisible. The wasted time, mistakes, duplication of effort and poor quality output don’t come out of anyone’s budget. The inefficiency is personal to employees and not counted anywhere as the organizational expense it is.

The larger and more sophisticated the organization, the greater the cost discrepancies become over time. When scope is understood to include communication and training around company policies, procedures, product and service documentation, work instructions, regulatory requirements and quality assurance processes (let alone topics like sales, marketing and investor relations), then the cost of doing nothing and the risks associated with doing nothing (or not doing enough) start to get high.

The risk and cost curves associated with not putting together an enterprise-wide content management framework trend up over time. The associated efficiency curves trend down.

At some point the lines cross.

As a training professional you would ideally have made your move before the lines cross. That’s the hope anyway. However, it is rarely the case. As a practical matter, it is only when senior management start to see the cost of content chaos that something happens.