The new-age employee is often flitting between devices—tapping away on smartphones, reading data from a laptop convertible, and talking on the conference calls, all at the same time. The digital revolution has touched peoples’ lives deeply, and it is changing the way they live and work. The same expectations have spiraled over to the way people learn—employees now demand utmost flexibility, comfort, and convenience for learning at work. Organizations are realizing that a gap exists between employees’ learning needs and current learning methods. Those organizations at the forefront are adopting the means to empower their people to be their best learning selves.
What is Digital Learning?
Digital learning is not just about using the latest tech-savvy smartphone or tablet to learn. It is a learning transformation in its entirety, where learning is spurred by self-directed user experience. It employs the paradigms of design thinking and digital thinking to create an engaging learning experience for the employee. Digital learning encompasses eLearning, continuous learning, blended learning and much more. A successful digital learning transformation thus boils down to building a culture of future-forward learning. Some of the new-age digital learning mechanisms include eLearning, social learning, mobile learning, MOOCs i.e. massive open online courses, gamified learning, peer to peer learning and just-in-time learning.
83% of executives identify career and learning as an “important” or “very important” issue, rating it at number 2 in importance. - 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report
Digital learning – often referred to as digital literacy - helps organizations navigate the growing complexity of business and constantly upgrade their organizational capabilities to prepare for an uncertain future.
Benefits for learners
Continuous learning: Research by Hermann Ebbinghaus indicates that humans learn better through short spurts of learning interventions on a continuous basis, rather than a once-in-a-while crash course. Digital learning does just that. It can be accessed anytime, anywhere and via any device. The modern employee needs flexibility. Digital, bite-sized learning content that is available across touch points and devices is an organization’s best bet to ensure continuous learning.
Individualized learning: Each learner has different learning needs, both in content and style. For example, the nature and depth of “communication training” needed for a salesperson may differ significantly from an IT employee. Classroom training often does not address this need. Digital training content can be packaged to suit the learner’s needs while achieving the overall learning objective that drives business results.
Great employee experience: Information overload is likely to overwhelm employees, especially new ones. Many employees today turn to web search as a preferred learning channel, resulting in a lot of time and energy being wasted in getting what is truly needed. Why not deliver curated content right to the employee through digital learning platforms? It is not only efficient resourcing but creates a great employee experience.
Benefits for managers
Data backed learning decisions: Digital learning is a treasure chest of data. Learning-related data at the individual, functional and pan-organizational level can provide useful insights to chart the future course for the learning agenda. Reporting and data analytics helps correlate learning inputs with business metrics. With data, L&D professionals have the opportunity to create an objective learning strategy that shows the impact on business.
Effort and cost efficiency: An ongoing commitment to digital learning is more effort and cost-effective. Learning automation, curated learning paths and pre-designed assignments make it easier for learning administrators to administer and assign courses as per learning needs.
Better engaged employees: The digital learning process places trust in the employee, by encouraging self-directed learning. It creates a learning network, where everyone shares and cares about learning. Digital learning thus fuels positivity, trust, and openness–the hallmarks of employee engagement.
Digital learning focuses on performance, rather than learning for the sake of learning. It encourages a strategic way of looking at learning and development as a core performance driver. In today’s digital era, adopting digital learning is not a question of whether, but when. L&D and HR leaders must assess how digital fits into the overall L&D and business strategy. Change starts with small steps, and a digital learning intervention has the potential to create change for the better.