How can your business adapt for the learning future?

a picture of a man making a move of the game chess by @jeshoots, Unsplash

The Covid pandemic disrupted the ways in which we study, play, learn and work. Work adapted quickly with many companies introducing blended or work-from-home solutions. Our productivity has shown that we can work from home. And many companies are expressing this accepted new change to the normality of office-based work to a blended approach.

What is the case for supporting your team or organization’s learning from anywhere? Especially considering this support is in lock-step with the changes and different expectations of the rest of the organisation.

There has been a lot of research about moving learning and development to an online space. Gone are the days of face-to-face teaching and lectures or the use of paper-based books or lecture notes. With the internet, these choices have expanded into a variety of digital media. This has quickly become a desired way to present materials now in the Covid pandemic and in the future. The most important reasons being as the students

  • can access materials 24–7
  • the materials can include multiple forms of media
  • the learning becomes more useful for the learners

So what is on the horizon? Based on the research, I have divided these up to several subsections; leadership in e-learning, learner engagement, User Experience (UX) / User Interface (UI) / Learner Experience Design (LXD) and the response in current school educational practises.

Leadership in e-learning

This rapid online shift has shown that a more critical, selective, strategic e‐leadership approach as a position and philosophy needs to be adopted. If your company is serious about leading its employers in their training and development, provisions need to be made for this. The gap in research and as a job function or role shows the use of educational technology needs to be developed and that companies can really capitulate on this.

Some of the industries are new, so this research will contribute to the community of practice. Best practices should follow the scientific studies and conventions in an iterative manner, rather than being out of step with each other. Research needs to happen on a consistent basis with practise. This will lead to a better understanding and simultaneous refinement of the design and theory. There is also a need to explore new business models and expand market segments. One strong future possibility is to offer different pricing strategies.

Strengthening content quality control is an ongoing need. Ensuring the consistency between service quality and improving the platform quality (UX,UI,LXD) also needs to be focused on. The users need to be able to engage with the platform and find the content they want to learn. They also need to have a decent variety of quality materials to choose from.

Learner engagement

Communities of practise need better communication. In courses with an instructor and learners, communication is important for the learner in two ways.

1. There needs to be opportunities to chat, have dedicated or free form forums or video or face-to-face opportunities. This helps to create a community of learning with their peers.

2. It is also important to have two-way communication with the tutor.

When learners are given opportunities to interact and contribute to the group’s knowledge, they show higher motivation and engagement. You can enrich your e-learning systems through collaboration and sharing tools. If the learning platform doesn’t host what you need, consider an alternative.

There should be a way for the stakeholders in the course to make suggestions on the learning materials, media choices, tools used and UX design. The aim is to get information on how the training is going and to adapt to the feedback. Provide a form or focus of continual assessment and upgrades by way of questionnaires or evaluations.

But does this actually work? A comparison of learner participation across two years shows these were more integrated following learner evaluations. The changes made in the second year had a positive impact on learner engagement. Course developers could take advantage of user responses to optimise their service and information quality. There’s also some interesting information from this Forbes article for some further reading.

UX / UI / LXD

Traditional educational methods vs e-learning. There has been a heavy dependence on traditional learning and methods of teaching. However with technology, students and educators can now take advantage of online and blended learning.

E-literacy and digital skills. There are big gaps that exist between teachers and students’ online literacy, to provide the learner with what they need. Other big issues are the quality of the resources created and the developers’ skills to choose the right tools. This is also experienced by the educator, who may be tech-literate but not to the technical needs that a complex e-Learning system may require.

Focus on the UX design features and interface should be a continuous assessment. E-learning systems need to enrich their functionality by embedding social features that encourage collaboration, sharing and communication. The learning platforms need to be easy to use; logging in, posting content, browsing, searching, commenting on others’ posts all show UX design can be improved.

There are also opportunities for front-end developers to create an easier interface. Extra considerations in terms of accessibility, ease of use or UX design need to be improved; it is not MySpace anymore! Consider extra training for those who are managing their sites from the dashboard, or directly from coding.

Lack of response from traditional learning

Build on what we already have. The quality and consistency that is being offered needs to be adapted and improved. In order to increase user and learner satisfaction a certain standard has to be maintained. Finding a way to reach your target market and to get content to them can be further explored.

We can make use of existing business models and parallel industry metrics such as marketing segments to adapt and improve. By looking in other markets, it can provide different ways to present or allow choice of the learning offerings. I write about this new way of looking at content as scalable learning assets in a series of articles, you can read the first one here.

The current model is hampered by policies that encourage simple rote learning. It also provides extensively scaffolded methods to assist student learning. These policies don’t make much sense in blended learning environments and they are a far cry from how contemporary organisations educate and develop their workforces.

Build on what you already have. Strengthen content quality control. Communities of practise need better communication. The current model is hampered by policies that encourage simple rote learning. So what is on the horizon for training and development in your team or company? What ways are you going to reach your employees and answer their training needs? What is the case for supporting your team or organization’s learning from anywhere?

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Quinten Sheriff

Quinten Sheriff

global citizen, educator with experience on 4 continents & 6 countries — instructional technology — human performance design — curriculum development — etc