Revolutionizing learning is as easy as applying what we already know, we just have to change our perspective. Even though technology has advanced and learning engagement continues to be well below our hopes, we have done little to change the way we approach our learning systems. Now is the time for disruption.
The environment that we live and work in continues to change faster than we have the ability to keep pace. When we look at the pressures our business leaders and field teams have to stay abreast of medical knowledge, operational processes, and compliance, can we reasonably expect new employees to onboard successfully and existing employees to keep up?
As consumers, we have found shortcuts that relieve the pressure of having to know information off the top of our heads. We are literally a button away from asking Siri, a click from the world’s perspective according to Google or a 14-year-old’s demonstration of the most complex technology through YouTube. Devices don’t come with instruction manuals, user interfaces are built so intuitively that users don’t hesitate to explore functionality. What does that mean for our learning organizations?
In an IDC study, over 70% of learners say they curate content for their own purposes – but 1 in 4 can’t find what they’re looking for. They estimated that knowledge workers spend 9.8 hours a week looking for information. If they can’t find it, that’s a lot of wasted time.
How can our learning organizations adapt to help learners in the age of information abundance? Most of us still have a strong dependency on learning modalities that have not drastically changed in 20 years from the ‘revolutionary’ days of interactive CD-ROM sales training. We may pride ourselves with better graphics and animation and faster, trackable deployment methods but despite technology advances and years of less than compelling metrics, most of us haven’t had the license to take the risks necessary to truly experiment.
Maybe it is true that we can’t walk away from formal training; we still need certification processes, compliance training and assessments to ensure our employees do and say the right things. But, taking into account the needs of our industry, here are some the things we can do to lead a revolution in learning.
Build Intrinsic Motivation
Interestingly, a good portion of our formal learning development still focuses on forced memorization instead of engaged learning. Our structure and content is tailored to deliver “what to do”, not getting into the hearts and souls of our learners to trigger an emotional reaction to “why it is important”, “what will be the implications if not done well”, “what are the opportunities when done well” and most importantly, “what’s in it for the me?” Perhaps it is not the interactions or the content, rather it is building intrinsic motivation for your learners to willingly and actively engage. Here are three considerations for your next project:
– Create empathy: use video, simulation, patient stories, rich photography, etc. to remind the learner why they are there. Many of us were drawn into our industry based on a desire to help people or a curiosity about the science. Use these levers to motivate. Better yet, understand your audience and customize those levers to each learner (see below on data strategies).
– Demonstrate success: use peer testimonials, like-business examples or illustrations to clearly articulate what success looks like when the learner gets there. These should tie directly into your research on “what’s in it for them”.
– Build commitment: ask the learners to share what they are hoping to get out of the programs before they even get started (use interviews, on-line surveys or audience polls at the onset of the learning experience). This will increase their commitment to learn and engage as they actively look for their answers.
Create an environment that encourages user-generated content
The propagation of the Internet would not have the same success without the participation of humanity to populate it. In a world of scarce resources (who ever got extra L&D budget?), internal super-users, top performers, experts and eager learners are an untapped resource in most organizations to research and build content. Even where governance is required, a review team can provide feedback in a fraction of the time it would have taken to build the content yourself.
Opening up to user-generated content can be daunting. The loss of control of content, design, distribution, approvals are all mostly emotional barriers that need to be overcome.
Try one of these experiments:
– Have employees submit proposals for training ideas and have them generate the content. Provide employees guidance on learning principles, if it makes sense, presentation design support, public speaking coaching and production/filming, if needed.
– Create a private YouTube channel and have employees upload ride along or ‘day in the life’ of a rep videos. No fancy video equipment required, today’s experiences can be captured through recordings on their smart phones. Create a contest to see what videos get the most likes or an award for top tips for success.
– Offer support to employees to help build their professional profiles. Providing editorial support for articles on a company blog page, publishing support for industry magazines or medical publications or speaker opportunities within internal or external workshops or conferences are all easy ways to help your employees build their personal brand equity and support your quest for content.
Experiment with new technologies
Although there is a plethora of fancy, shiny technologies being touted as the next big things in learning, realistically, placing your bets on technologies like social, gamification or virtual reality experiences are not, on their own, going to transform learning. No doubt, they may be the hooks and teasers that can create some excitement but will only engage learners when used in the right context.
More practically, video, animation, interactivity and data will continue to prove their effectiveness but even at that – they come at a cost. Making the right decisions on when to take a bit more time and budget to increase your Return on Learning Investment (ROLI) is going to be the learning leaders biggest challenge.
One of the biggest opportunities for applying technology to learning is to pivot and look to other industries. Leveraging techniques and expertise such as data modeling and analytics forged in targeted marketing will allow learning organizations to identify learner cohorts and help us tailor content and select modalities that will result in an increased retention of knowledge or change in behavior (in marketing-speak that is conversion or a buying action).
When we start coupling data insights with ad-serving, personalization and multi-channel (marketing) learning we can further bring micro-learning to life. The right content, through the right channel, to the right person at a time that is convenient to the “learner” has been the mantra of “Direct” marketers since Lester Wunderman coined the term in the late 1940’s.
The revolution of learning is going to be led by learners
So what does this all mean? The revolution of learning is going to be led by our learners themselves. But it isn’t going to happen if we wait for them. Our role as learning leaders is to create an environment where our organizations can excel and, to do that effectively, we will need to hold out a helping hand to help our leaders and teams take a step forward into a world where they will willingly drive their own learning journeys.
Our ability to unbundle learning, extract the awesome bits and then looking outwardly to re-bundle methods, technologies and channels that have never been explored for learning is the foundation of the breakthrough innovation that we need to revolutionize learning. Or then, maybe Alexa will have a better answer.
At Klick Learning Solutions for Health, we bring together exceptional creative talent, deep technical innovation capabilities, in-house medical expertise and proven learning strategies to unlock the potential of our most sacred resources, our people. For more information on how our solutions might help your teams keep up with the rapidly changing medical, regulatory and commercial landscapes, please email me.