What we're loving on social media
The new learn to lead podcast series led by Matt Confer at Abilitie is an inspiring listen.
Interesting guests, valuable insights and a great range of topics.
Reasons for optimism A great read on the positives in our current circumstances and how as an industry we can support businesses through this time.
the trainers guide to going virtual
Rebecca Kaloo. 8th July 2020
You’re a seasoned learning professional. At the top of your game. You create fantastic learning experiences, glide through conference centers and airports like you’re on castors, own the coffee area. But virtual? That’s a whole new galaxy.
DON’T PANIC. You just need the inside track on operating in the virtual space. I’ve been designing, delivering, re-imagining and exploring in virtual learning for over a decade. These are my 7 virtual delivery survival tips.
Put people first. In these difficult times, aim to meet your learners where they are in their day, week or emotional journey. Everyone is juggling additional responsibilities and a bit frazzled. So set your learners up for success with great joining instructions. Then build in time for a relaxed welcome. Turn your camera on to put them at ease…I know, I know….but give them the gift of your gorgeous, smiling face! Get them familiar with the platform functionality they’ll be using and regularly check in on how they’re doing. You’re going to meet a lot of kids and dogs and it will be fantastic.
Be an ambitious amateur. So you don’t know much about the tech and everyone else is a pro? Relax. I still learn something new every day. Download the software and click on everything. Let your imagination run wild on how you could use it. You can edit your ambition for the practicalities of time and budget later.
Play to your strengths. Maybe you’re a great storyteller, or you’re incredible at feedback, or coaching group work. Whatever it is, take it into the virtual space. Figure out a way to use the tools available virtually to replicate the experience. Focus on being authentically you. And practice. A lot.
Stay action focused. The technology can be distracting. But whatever the platform, great learning experiences create value for people and businesses. What you want participants to do differently should still be at the heart of your learning design.
Plan meticulously…then go with the flow. Virtual delivery doesn’t need to be linear and rigid. Build in flexibility to your materials so you can flex the timings and order. Allow buffer time for deeper discussions and learning rich detours. So you don’t get lost, have a timetable and clock close at hand and give clear instructions and prompts to learners so they know where they are and what’s expected.
Engage purposefully. Whatever platform you use, there’ll be some great interactive features that can help drive engagement. Think of them as a toolkit – at their best when used for the right job and with purpose. You’ll have your favorites (mine are chat, screen annotation and breakouts) but all of them can be very powerful if wielded wisely.
Embrace the fear. Be prepared for the worst. The tech will break. Don’t panic. It will break in a new and interesting way. Still don’t panic. Knowing the platform and running a backup login regularly save the day. As can a great producer or co-facilitator. If you’re still in trouble, break the glass on your emergency phone-a-friend list. Breathe deeply, reboot yourself and dive back in.
Above all, don’t forget your headset.
Leveraging Learning to Build Back Better
Rebecca Kaloo. 6th July 2020
How can the lessons of disaster recovery be applied to corporate learning?
Building Back Better, with its roots in the disaster recovery effort following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, is about grasping the opportunity to recover in a way that improves physical, social, environmental and economic conditions. Building communities – and businesses – that are more resilient, equitable and thriving. As the first wave of lockdown measures begin to ease, I’ve been thinking about what building back better means for corporate learning communities and how we can deliver a step change in learning practices. For me, there are key themes around empowering learners, embedding wellbeing and increasing access to high quality resources. For all of these, technology and collaboration are the key enablers.
Empowering learners to take control
Communities driving their own recovery is a key element of building back better. As learning professionals, we know that outcomes are particularly strong when people take control of their personal learning. But how much control do we really hand over? All too often, learning professionals are still making key choices about medium, flow, timing and content that learners could and should be making for themselves.
Empowered learners are those who are accessing and applying learning effectively in their working day as they need it, and consciously building their medium and long-term skills. To make this a reality, we need to get better at teaching learning strategies and using technology to make it easier to find and access great learning.
With the rise of digital, there has been an explosion of easily accessible content. Too much choice though can be daunting and waste employee time. Learning professionals are already doing more work than ever before to curate their learning offer but a technology driven solution that enables every learner to access learning resources tailored to their individual needs and curated for quality would be even more empowering.
In championing the empowerment of learners, will we put ourselves out of a job? No, there will always be a need for experts in learning, but how we add value will certainly change. We should have the confidence in our expertise to ask ourselves whether the learning we provide empowers participants to take control of their learning journey.
Wellbeing at the heart of all we do
Creating a learning environment that supports wellbeing is now more vital than ever. At a time when we are seeing a dramatic increase in working from home, digital learning can be a smart way to provide some of the social contact and interaction that many are missing. The current crisis has opened many peoples eyes to how virtual learning can be a joyful, highly sociable experience that gives participants a sense of being valued and supported.
As traditional office communities move online, many employees have felt an increasing sense of isolation. Digital learning can play an important role here in supporting employee wellbeing. Increasingly, organizations are looking at how they can build greater social elements into their digital learning offer and how they can use technology to link learners and build learning communities. The challenge is to build engaging learning that offers the human connection, mentoring, shared experience, informal networking and achievement recognition we enjoy in face to face learning, whilst leveraging the areas that digital can do better, like scalable knowledge sharing.
When done badly though, technology enabled learning can be a source of frustration and stress. So, we need to think carefully about wellbeing and the learner experience not just in terms of content design but also about their experience when using the technology and engaging in a virtual environment.
Greater access building greater capabilities
The move to digital is driving a democratization of learning. Accessibility is higher than ever before and accelerating as more organizations take their learning offer digital in response to the current crisis.
There are many benefits of moving learning onto screens. Online and virtual learning solutions tend to be shorter and more cost effective. The instant availability of online solutions and the ability to record virtual sessions mean that learners can access content when and where they choose. They can also engage with it at their own pace, revisiting elements and pausing for actions or reflection.
Many digital solutions allow unlimited learners. It means great approaches can be shared by thousands rather than the privileged few able to access them previously. The proliferation of apps and platforms has made it cheaper, faster and easier to develop materials and keep them relevant in the face of a rapidly changing world.
Digital lends itself easily to a modular approach. Learning can be chunked down and designed to drive application and retention. Whether it’s enabling learners to access modules from their workstation where they will be applying the learning, spaced repetition of concepts, or retrieval of previous learning, we can use research backed design approaches to deliver more effective solutions than the constraints of face to face learning typically allow.
It also opens new possibilities when tailoring learning offers to organizations and individuals. We can use data driven insights to standardize and scale those elements where differentiation doesn’t add value, freeing up resource for more effective tailoring and individual support where it has the greatest impact. Increasingly, brilliant learning infrastructure and quality learning can be implemented at a fraction of the previous cost.
Alongside tech improvements, we’ve also seen a dramatic increase in levels of familiarity and comfort with accessing digital solutions. The proliferation of social media and video conferencing use in everyday life has opened to the door to a step change in adoption of digital learning.
We should be asking ourselves how we can reimagine learning to break it down to its components and reassemble those elements into new, cost effective, flexible, impactful, engaging learning solutions
The future is digital
As those who collaborate with me will know, I am passionate about digital learning. But 15 years ago, I was a reluctant early adopter. A key client, a leading global FMCG company, approached the learning consultancy I worked for with a request to deliver a virtual classroom. It was complex, technically challenging and terrifying. Despite the creaking technology, it was immediately clear that virtual offered new opportunities to connect a global business and create exceptional learning solutions.
Since that first delivery, digital has completely remodeled my working life, broken the pricing models my income relied on and fundamentally changed my approach to learning design and delivery. The journey from traditional training to digital learning has been personally challenging and professionally inspiring. I’ve been wowed by the pace of change, the spirit of experimentation, the breadth of creativity, the expertise of collaborative partners and the sheer flexibility of the available tools.
Why do I think the future is digital? Because none of the clients I’ve taken the digital journey with have ever retreated from digital learning once they have introduced it into their learning offer. The technology and approaches used have changed to deliver better value and learner experience but I cannot think of a single example of reverting to a fully face to face solution.
In my experience, expertly designed digital learning can replicate everything traditional learning experiences do to build capabilities, support wellbeing and empower learners - and much more besides.
Beyond the learning benefits, digital allows us to build a more agile and adaptive learning offer that is both planet and people friendly. My own experience is that going digital has brought greater richness to my professional life, dramatically reduced my carbon footprint and enabled a far better work-life balance.
The current crisis has dramatically accelerated the move to digital learning and will be a catalyst for the next generation of learning technology. So, for all of us the challenge will be to keep pace with coming changes and embrace the opportunities to build back better.