Digital technologies are disrupting the learning and development market mainly because of the pace at which businesses are changing and the skills that are required to succeed. Both organizations and employees are under pressure to deliver high performance while also learning continuously. L&D and HR professionals must understand the impact of digital learning in order to articulate the business need for learning to the leadership, only then can one expect digital learning to become an ingrained way of life to improve organizational performance.
Digital thinking in building digital L&D
Going digital is not just about adopting digital learning technologies, systems, and processes. It demands a more fundamental change. It is a new way of learning, a mind set change. Digital thinking is a shift away from “learning for the sake of learning outcomes” towards “learning to enhance performance.” L&D professionals must think about two things:
User-friendly outcomes like enhanced flexibility, increased collaboration, rich experiences, etc. These will help instill a learning culture and empower the employee. After all, learning and development is a powerful tool for engaging and retaining employees.
Think about the latest technologies like automation, social, mobile, and the internet of things, and how you can integrate them into the infrastructural foundation for digital learning.
How to improve the impact of digital learning
The essence of digital literacy lies in being a new “way of learning” and not just a new platform. The following learning attitudes must become integral to digital learning, for it to succeed:
Focus on business outcomes: To improve learning impact, one must define the learning impact in terms of business outcomes and not merely learning outcomes. The training evaluation model of Kirk Patrick suggests four levels of learning evaluation—reaction, learning, behavior, and results. Organizations must move beyond the first three levels and measure results that are articulated as tangible business results such as the impact on financials, costs, and process efficiency.
Use data for decision making: A digital learning system ensures that the staff has access to learning data right from completion rates, assessment scores, effective learning modes etc. that can then feed into identifying learning needs and aligning learning styles. These data points must be correlated with business outcomes like impact on P&L, better quality, delivery efficiency etc. Use data analytics and insights to deliver what employees actually need, and not what the organization thinks they need.
Empower employees: Digital learning should be employee-centric, only when employees connect with the learning content and objectives, will there be a “pull” to learn more. Use tools like social learning platforms, discussion forums, self-paced learning, and personal learning networks to empower employees to self-direct their learning in the way they learn best.
Customize your digital resources: Employees today access a variety of devices, and seamlessly switch between them. It is therefore critical that organizations customize their learning offerings. Build engaging content that can be accessed across channels and devices. Provide a personalized learning experience to individuals and groups. For example, one can design the course content by learning style (audio, visual, kinesthetic), job role (sales, HR, finance) and other demographic parameters.
Ultimately the success of digital learning is about sharing a compelling learning vision with staff. Once employees sense a significant value-add to their professional lives, they will take the lead to learn in the right direction. This, in turn, will create a ‘positive learning flow’ for individuals, teams, and leaders, setting the stage for a learning culture. L&D must do its bit by constantly assessing the impact of digital learning initiatives, course-correcting when needed, in line with the business needs. Most importantly, L&D must showcase the positive change to the top leadership, to be able to gain a sustained commitment to digital learning. A learning advantage is nothing short of a competitive advantage in today’s cut-throat business landscape.