Posted on 29th November, 2018 by Ben Miller
Our recent webinar, ‘How to create great digital learning that works’, hosted by LEO Learning’s Principal Consultant, Ella Richardson and Strategic Consulting Lead, Rose Benedicks, explained how to avoid “buzz concepts” and create truly effective learning.
The session began by asking participants whether they felt like they often had to compromise great digital learning to use modern tools and trends. Tellingly, only a third of attendees said they did not feel under pressure to be cutting-edge or innovative at the potential expense of learning design.
With so much to cover when it comes to addressing this challenge, it was unsurprising that the webinar ran out of time to fully answer all of the resulting questions. Below, we are sharing Ella and Rose’s insights in response to four of them.
Q1) My L&D team is under pressure to deliver within the 70:20:10 model. How much flexibility can we have if we take this approach?
Rose: These are not prescriptions for how people learn or how great digital learning should happen. They are usually just describing how people approach learning.
The concept of 70:20:10 does not mean that you need to make 70% of your training informal and 20% in a classroom. It just means that you need to embrace the idea of the way that people learn.
A great example of this is the great digital learning that we created for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. By understanding the way that people prefer to learn, we were able to help people find their own learning journey within a certain space of time.
We augmented a core learning journey with many other elements, encouraging people to learn in ways that made sense to them. Learners need a precedent, so we used case studies, such as how a leader approaches a tricky situation with a patient, to provide great digital learning.
We also used videos, including allowing people to submit self-generated videos, to demonstrate how to approach problems. All of these case studies were very different and helped to give people a different understanding of how to deal with challenges.
Ella: This was formally driven, but a lot was left up to people to engage in their own way, asynchronously. All elements were designed to be easily digested or used in a moment of need. All of this enabled highly personalised experiences for learners, based on their own choices around a core set of activities.
Q2) What resources do you refer to when you need to remind yourself about great learning design?
Ella: We are always looking outside of what we do. One of the benefits of being part of Learning Technologies Group is we have lots of experts outside our core business.
I love Behavioural Economics, Nudge Theory and those kinds of things. I’m always looking at information and systems design, considering what makes great UX. I listen to podcasts every day to get snippets of insight into new ideas and domains that can inspire my work. Looking outside of what we do and how we can apply that to our day-to-day activities is most useful for me.
Rose: I think we all do it in different ways. I stay plugged in to universities and often offer to speak to incoming classes or graduate Masters and PhD classes. That helps me stay up to date with how people are speaking academically.
I’m also quite active on LinkedIn and I get Harvard Business Review. Generally, when I look at anything, I’m looking through the lens of someone who is creating great learning design and experiences.
That, in and of itself, is not contained to learning-specific resources. I spend a lot of time browsing and talk to people like Ella to make sense of it.
Q3) In pre-test content, how can we establish what a learner already knows without making the content too long?
Ella: Conducting a thorough needs analysis will determine what interventions can be implemented to ensure there is no overlap in knowledge. A good analysis will establish key objectives that can be targeted.
Rose: You cannot accommodate every single thing somebody needs to know or learn, or know what the gaps are. You’re getting into meta-cognition and so on if you do that.
What you can do is use these principles to make it easier for people to find their own information. You can also encourage them to ask experts or go outside of the resources your organisation has in order to make meaning.
You can acknowledge that as a path to take – and that you want people to take, because it’s bringing more to your organisation and adding to your organisational brain-share.
Q4) Can you explain what zero-waste learning means for my organisation? Does it mean we should reduce the amount of training being produced?
Rose: There is a danger that people assume more content means more learning. We know that the volume of training content or testing is not an appropriate measure of progress for organisations. Conversely, zero waste learning is often conflated as making learning as small and quick as possible to get the point across without wasting resources.
In reality, it is more of an aspiration and something worth striving for, rather than an achievable goal. Start with what you want to achieve in mind. For example, if you are working in compliance and your goal is to ensure everyone has seen a piece of learning, you may not need to use many resources to achieve this audit trail.
However, if your goal is to reduce the number of workplace safety incidents, your health and safety training will require learning interventions and practice.
In the end, it is about making learning as useful as possible in order for people to learn efficiently. The concept is about continuous improvement, and you have to be brave enough to critique your learning, look under the hood and ask if it is working in the way you want it to.