Tag Archives: best practices

Informal Learning For Startups: Preparing For Internal Social Collaboration

Classroom teaching has been debunked for newer forms of learning and engagement across organizations. Interestingly, startups seem to be the ones driving companies towards such learning. Read about it in detail here.

The Use Of Informal Learning For Startups

Working in any organization involves learning, and at different levels. The most common approach is a presentation and exemplifying, followed by learning and then repetition. However, this technique may not always yield appropriate results. Several startups in today’s business ecosystem have realized that one needs to make a framework in order to get a complete view of a learner’s overall needs.

There is no doubt that L&D plays a very important part in developing successful leaders amongst Millennials across organizations. With increase in competition, companies have started pursuing more efficient as well as effective methodologies of social learning. [1] As per an international survey conducted by McKinsey & Company, 82% respondents declared that they were making use of some form of internal social network. Since informal learning comes to 90% of total work-based learning, this is bound to happen.

Though it is known that internal social networking is highly beneficial to any company, putting together a suitable network is easier said than done. Gartner’s estimate claims that about 90% initiatives for social collaboration fail due to the “provide-and-pray” approach- one which says that any new initiative does not necessarily require massive marketing and internal promotion.

Jacques Bughin at McKinsey states that if internal social networks need to be counted as success stories, at least 30-40% of staff must be utilizing in every day. If that does not happen, then the social learning initiative will gradually fade away and you will not get the expected results.

This is what Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, Senior Vice President at PageUp, a well-known HR software company, said during her answer to L&D professionals’ questions on informal learning methods: [2]

Investment in informal learning is increasing as more and more organizations realize just how ‘sticky’ on-demand micro-content such as online blogs, podcasts, and videos are for engaging employees of all generations. With advancements in mobile learning technology, it’s now much easier for employees to share informal learning content with their peers, sending it viral across the organization. (…) People have always learnt informally, and formal education and training has supplemented that. Enterprises are now just leveraging what is a very natural and intuitive way of increasing their employees’ knowledge and skills.

3 Steps To Develop An Informal Learning Strategy

1. Engagement Strategy

Informal learning helps in attaining a massive amount of organizational knowledge, through a varied and exciting learning program which enables learners to make advancements in their careers. Only a clear engagement strategy can ensure that learners are motivated enough to participate in the very first instance. Rewards and recognition can be a good method to engage them. Make use of a game-based learning platform to create a meaningful program for them. This should be accessible through all devices, even mobiles.

2. On-The-Job Admin Team

It is natural that an elaborate learning module will require several moving parts. Every member of the L&D team should understand the aims of this initiative. If managers can become gung-ho about the new training initiatives, they will certainly become extensions of your own admin team. The organization’s culture of adapting it is what will help you move forward with the initiative.

3. Open Community

One of the major reasons for the success of any informal learning program is its nature of providing autonomy to the user. Though the user is empowered through the Learning Management System, it is also necessary to link needs of the user with those of the organization. When employees participate in open forum discussions, they get a sense of belonging with the company. At the same time, the LMS leads to better engagement levels for employees.

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Informal Learning In The Startup Environment

The changing landscape of business across India has seen the magnificent and unprecedented growth story of startups. And there is no reason why such learning cannot benefit these small organizations as well. In most cases, startups do not have the necessary funds in order to execute a full-fledged L&D program. They also do not possess requisite manpower for the same, which again brings informal training to the fore.

Adaptability And Flexibility

These are two key parameters that employees working at a startup always have to keep in mind. Well, the same goes for the learning program as well, and that’s the beauty of informal training. It has to be constantly adjusted and tweaked as per the needs of the startup. And yes, this is certainly the need of the hour since the startup is constantly evolving. By having a formal structure in place, it will no longer be possible to adjust.

Here is one of the reasons why informal learning programs can be most successful with startups. As mentioned above, learning is most effective when the user becomes autonomous. In other words, self-led learning has the potential for maximum rewards. Try to understand; who is the person who learns the most in the daily working of a startup? Well, you guessed it right – it is the average employee who is possibly engaging with clients on a daily basis. He or she is the person who will be facing the maximum number of doubts, and by being at the seat of the informal training program, he or she will also get the fastest answers. This will naturally lead to greater retention, as the employee will understand how the organization is committed towards his or her welfare.

New Vision For eLearning On A Global Scale

Today technology is advancing at a pace quicker than any one of us could have ever imagined. Eventually, there will come a time when our systems of pedagogy will be unable to handle the impact of global change. For this reason, a new vision needs to be drawn out, and informal learning is certainly a part of the same.

We are currently residing in societies which have the facilities to be able to network, collaborate and coordinate on an international scale. When we look at bringing about innovation to organizations, it becomes increasingly certain that those involved in such endeavours need to come up with a long-term vision on the future of eLearning, according to a universal global standard.

Startups can really help to take the above vision, and here’s why. They are the companies which get into territories that no one else does. They are the ones considered to be the harbingers of change in society. So if they drive forward the new eLearning vision, there is no reason why the world’s organizations will not follow.

 

This article was first published at eLearning Industry.com.

 

References: 

  1. Transforming the business through social tools
  2. Why informal learning is a worthwhile investment
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E-learning goes regional for firms

At HUL, an app created by Mumbai based QuoDeck (previously Ptotem) acts as a ready reckoner for their sales persons. “Basic training for bringing a sales person on board is provided in the app. We have evaluation points and an assessment is done after which a certification is offered,” Sikdar said.

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Kohler India redefines learning through Kohler Radio and Learning Wallet

Kohler Radio is an IVR-enabled learning platform, wherein audio messages are recorded and relayed in the form of a call to individual mobile phones, which the participants can listen to, take part in, learn and get assessed through a few objective questions asked after each session.

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Happy work places make happy people

While Kamalika Bhattacharya, CEO, QuoDeck Technologies, says, “We, at QuoDeck are a company of gamers and that is reflected in pretty much everything we do, starting from arcade machines to board game afternoons to the monthly escape the room challenges. We care about our team above everything and that’s the belief we live by. They in turn, respect the thought and ensure that our clients and our brand get their very best.”

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Why you should use case studies to make your elearning course more engaging

There is a big difference between a course that is engaging, and a course that is well-documented.

You may create a comprehensive course with interactive branch scenarios and detailed explanation, but, if it is not relevant to the learner, than it will just confuse or worst case, frustrate her. Such a pattern may be good and easy to build, but it is only good enough to share information. It lacks in creating engagement and results in poor retention in the mind of the learner. Such courses are ‘well-documented’, but not engaging.

Engagement requires an emotional connection between the content and the learner. It goes beyond presenting interactive content; it is about designing truly motivating learning experiences.

The biggest challenge in creating an elearning course is engaging the learner, and there is a very simple solution for this – Case Studies

So here’s how you can use case studies to make your course engaging and interesting.

  • It is after all, a story: Humans have used the art of story-telling as a mode of communicating ideas and knowledge since the Stone Age, and there is a reason behind it. We tend to remember a story better than just facts, and it provides a very practical, firsthand account of events that happened, and the appropriate solutions to them.
  • It is simple: The simpler your story, the clearer is the message and the easier it is for the learner to remember and use it when required. If you stuff your course with extra details, your course will end up being a clutter of abstract information, making it tougher for both – you and the learner.
  • A relevant perspective: If you tell your story from the perspective of the customer, or anyone other than the learner, she will receive insights on the situation from a different perspective too. Also, this will raise the interest of the person enrolled in your course. Instead of telling the learner what they need to know, show them how not knowing affects others.

Even as a trainer, this makes things simpler for you as well.

Case studies need lesser time to build, and they rarely result in an information dump. Thus, you waste lesser time and energy, thinking and pondering over your course, and tweaking it time and again by introducing gimmicks to make it more engaging.

A case study is still mostly linear, but I see it as a first step in an iterative process of moving away from the boring click and read style. What is your take on this?

P.S.: If you are interested in knowing about micro-learning, then this one is a good place to start – 5 reasons why micro-learning is perfect for today’s workforce

 

microlearning-framework

7 things to check before implementing a micro-learning system in your organisation

Implementing a learning system for any organisation is not an easy task. It requires deep analysis of the organisation’s requirements, resources and estimation of the future needs as well.

The key to a proper implementation of any learning system is identifying the constraints and defining the specifications for the system. This study, known as the ‘Detailed Constraint Analysis’, helps in identifying the constraints which might create a roadblock during the actual implementation. (Download this INCITE Micro-learning Framework to find out more about Detailed Constraint Analysis)

Here are the 7 recommended parameters one must check to ensure that the implementation specifications are comprehensive:

1. Device Constraints – These constraints pertain to whether the micro-learning is being built for the mobile or the desktop or both. Based on the answer to this question, constraints with respect to operating systems, screen orientation and sizing, app vs. web, etc. need to be further analyzed.

2. Security Constraints – These constraints pertain to the data and access security concerns of the organization. These can range from basic questions like whether the learning is to be accessible only inside the office to more complex issues like remote wiping of learning data on exits, etc.

3. Bandwidth Constraints – These constraints pertain to the network bandwidth available for the learning system. These constraints are typically derived from surrogate analysis of geographical dispersion and network capabilities of the devices on which the learning is to be deployed.

4. Org Structure Constraints – These pertain to the team structures within the company and non-hierarchical structures (like Leadership Group, Committees, etc.) that might be present. The main aspect to analyze is the likelihood and extent of overlap between multiple micro-learning systems for a learner who might belong to multiple cohorts.

5. Engagement Level Constraints – A lot of organizations seek to tread cautiously on the extent of engagement they would like to implement. The interaction level of the micro-learning has to be kept on the fine line which creates motivation without creating obsession which hampers work.

6. Learner Psychology Constraints – Depending on the organizational DNA and employee profiles, it is critical to understand the needs and attitudes of the learner groups and design the system accordingly. In this section, it is also critical to assess how learners might try to “game the system”.

7. Learning Objective Constraints – Ultimately, it all comes down to the learning objectives that you want to drive through the system. Depending on the objectives you want to achieve, you will need to make trade-offs on engagement, length, seriousness, etc.

Document the above constraints and your Learning System Specifications are ready! Now you can move on to the next stage – Designing the micro-learning system. (How to design a micro-learning system for your organisation in 6 easy steps)

 

microlearning-framework

 

 

 

7 key elements of an engaging learning flow

Learning is a process, not an event, which makes the planning of the journey through the process, a critical part of learning design. The navigation of learning flows is fundamental to the success of any micro-learning implementation.

So, before we find out about the key elements, let us understand what is a ‘Learning Flow’.

A Learning Flow is a continuous steady stream of social micro-learning activities – accessible from the web and mobile devices. (Hart, 2014)

Now, let’s look at each of the elements of the above sentence, that describe a Learning Flow.

  • continuous – that are ongoing (i.e. no end date)
  • steady – that are daily (or probably more likely, weekly)
  • micro-learning – that are short – i.e. taking no longer than 15-20 minutes to undertake
  • activities – that involve reading (watching or listening to) something and doing something
  • social – that invite and encourage active participation and contribution
  • stream – that are organized and structured in the Flow in weekly themes
  • accessible from web and mobile devices – that ensure that learning takes place anywhere and at anytime

Make sure you keep these in mind while designing micro-learning solutions for your organisation. (How to design a micro-learning system for your organization in 6 easy steps)

microlearning framework

When to use visuals in learning content

Do you really need to include visuals in your learning content, or you should avoid them? Find out by taking this ‘Picture Test’!

  1. Will the visual make the content easy to understand?
  2. Will the visual be more effective than an extensive description?
  3. Will the visual help you structure your content in a better way?
  4. Will the visual make your content attractive enough to grab the reader’s attention?
  5. Will the visual help you reinforce the central idea?

If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘Yes’, then feel free to use visuals in your content.

Things to cross-check before launching your elearning course

elearningbestpractices

Designing an e-learning course is a comprehensive task. After spending diligent hours working on your course, there would be nothing worse than encountering errors post the launch of your course. More importantly, the USP of an e-learning course is that it is learner-centric.  It would dilute the whole point of the course if the learner is unable to understand the content due to crude finishing. Below is a check-list that will help you to have an error-free course launch.

1. Make sure the content fulfills the course objective

The first and the foremost priority of any course developer is that the course should fulfill the learning objective. Have clear learning goals & outcomes and make sure that every element of the content reflects it.

– Incorporate real-life and practical aspects to the content. The learner should be able to relate to them.

– Give links to external resources that you may have used in the course

Chunking is an effective & popular tool in e-learning. Chunk your content into groups using bulleted lists & highlighted key phrases that will allow the learner to process and retain the information effectively. If necessary, use videos or images to make the content interesting.

2. Break down the course into relevant and consumable blocks

Divide the course into modules. Make sure each module is complete and all the modules deliver the course cohesively. Provide an overview before each module to give the learner a gist of what is going to be covered. This could be a list or an introductory video by the Head of the Company or Department Head. Similarly, provide a summary and a short quiz at the end to test his learning.

If possible, have a marker or an indicator, like a bookmark, to show how much content has been covered. It will help the users to set a timeline for the course.

3. Be ruthless with editing

Once the course is ready, make sure you invest generous amount of time in its editing. A proper edit will eliminate repetitive points, grammar/spelling errors and ensure that there are no distorted images or multimedia.

4. Ensure that the course has a user-friendly interface

Your e-learning course should be easy to use with working links and buttons to guide the learner. The navigation should be simple and effortless. Using a narrator or mentor throughout the course would help here.

5. Make sure there are no brand/ trademark violations

There are 2 aspects to consider here. Firstly, you should work to make the course reflect the brand value of your company. Then importantly, take meticulous care that the course has zero trademark violations. Cross-check the font type, logo, colours, images, case studies/ examples used; and ensure that they are in sync with the brand guidelines. Trademark violations may even result in legal issues.

6. Test the course rigorously

An e-learning course is bound to have a lot of interactive elements like quizzes, videos and other multimedia. It will make the learner extremely disappointed if he is unable to access the information due to an unsupported browser or if he has to download other software to access the course. Have a through technical testing to confirm that it can run on multiple browsers & is mobile-friendly (if you plan to go that way. Another way to overcome this issue is by using a tool which works on both – desktop as well as mobile. QuoDeck is one such tool). All links should be functional and the submission of forms/ quizzes should run smoothly without any technical delays.

7. Tests/ Assessments should serve the learning outcomes

Take care while drafting the assessments. The assessments should cover the entire course and should incorporate real-life problems and decision making scenarios. Also, make sure that the level of questions should not be too simple or too complex for the learner. Use tools to give them feedback on their performance. It will motivate them to do better.

I guess I have covered all the important points in this check list. Do let me know if I have missed any.

Want to make your training memorable? Read this one – How to make your training unique and memorable

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