6 Ways To Provide Content That Empowers Continuous Learning
The business world has become so volatile – and organizations so complex – that the half-life of knowledge and skills is shrinking. L&D teams struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of change, and employees on the front lines are more in tune with their learning preferences than the learning pros themselves. In fact, there is a distinct gap between what many L&D organizations are focused on – formal learning structured around training “events” – and what employees want and need: Moment of need support and ready access to fresh ideas, delivered in short, informal, and continuous learning bursts.
Jane Hart’s 2014 Learning in the Workplace Survey revealed that employees rated the importance of formal company training and e-learning dead last out of 10 ways in which to learn in the workplace. What topped formal company training on the list? Informal and social learning methods: Sharing knowledge within a team, searching for resources, conversations and meetings, personal and professional networks, external blogs and news feeds, and curated content from outside sources. In other words, they want every day continuous learning opportunities.
And learners really are taking advantage of learning on a regular basis. In March 2015, the Maisie Center published survey results that showed more than 75 percent of respondents reported having at least one daily or weekly learning habit—following thought leaders, listening to podcasts, or searching for innovative ideas.
To support continuous learning – and help ensure that the right learning is being transmitted through less formal learning channels – L&D organizations need to evolve. They need to shift from developing content and designing formal programs as the core of their offerings to becoming curators of content—gathering the best, most relevant content, organizing it and making it easy to find, providing context, and managing it to ensure it stays fresh. Hard to do on your own, given the pressures on L&D to do more with less, and deliver content and programs more rapidly.
So just how do you support the shift towards continuous learning without dumbing down the content?
- Seek out credible content sources. Steer employees to vetted sources of relevant, quality content fast by curating and leveraging trusted content providers.
- Offer a range of content options. Provide a spectrum of options ranging from short briefs to in-depth articles, different genres of video, and even structured learning experiences to allow for practice and reflection to meet different learning styles and needs. And make sure you offer content for all levels within your organization.
- Make sure that content is broadly available. Integrate content with primary learning platforms, but also make it available in common work environments to create multiple access points. Leverage technologies like mobile access and single sign-on to remove as many barriers as possible.
- Put content in an organizational context. Communicate why these topics are important, and how they align with the strategic imperatives for the organization.
- Provide tools for action. Offer ideas on how to use the content to start or drive conversations within teams or with colleagues. Make suggestions for applying learning in the workplace. Provide tools to assess where the learner or organization is today, and how to set a path forward.
- Inspire further exploration. Give pointers on where the learner can find more on a given topic once their curiosity is piqued. The key is to provide choice so that the learners can choose the path that’s right for them.
Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be able to provide your employees (and your organization) with the continuous learning they want and need to thrive in this complex business world of ours.