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Learning on the Job: 5 Key Lessons from Creating Next-Generation Workplace Training Products

In line with recently emerging trends, the modern workforce has begun to value learning and development opportunities within an organization more than ever. It is, therefore, reasonable to deduce that the future of work lies in the quality of the employee training programs that corporations have to offer. With an increased emphasis on workplace training programs, employers must revise their current learning and development strategies to keep up with the times.

Creating next-generation workplace training products requires a deep understanding of ed-tech, learning attitudes, and instructional design. With expertise in education technology and a rich experience in creating online workplace learning tools, Edly has some unique insights into what the future of on-the-job learning should look like. 

In this year’s Open edX conference, Edly’s team had the opportunity to share these insights with the rest of the ed-tech community. Using our session at the conference as a backdrop, we have penned down some major takeaways from our experience in creating online learning tools for today’s dynamic workforce. 

What Challenges do Existing Workplace Training Solutions Face?

The key issue with some existing workplace training solutions is their lack of adaptability. As times change so should our approach to learning on the job. Outdated training methods fail to resonate with the younger and much more tech-savvy employees. Everything, from content delivery methods to the content itself, must be revised and updated frequently. 

On top of that, employees must be made aware of what their learning objectives are and how any particular learning intervention might help them perform better in their roles. Knowing this can help workers see the value in their learning, which goes a long way in shifting employee attitudes. Instead of considering learning as supplemental or unnecessary, they can come to view training as an opportunity to grow. 

Additionally, organizations must address the ways in which they present information to their learners. Currently, employers fail to put much thought into the way in which information is designed and presented to the learners. As a result, many employees consider workplace training to be disruptive or a distraction from their typical workload. Incorporating instructional design principles in online learning can help organizations address this challenge. Let’s take a more detailed look at this in our next section! 

Key Lessons We Learned

1. It’s Fun to be Social

Key lesson from creating workplace training products

The idea of collaborative learning is not exclusive to online learning. Even in a traditional classroom setting, learners are more likely to be engaged in learning if there is more peer-to-peer collaboration. In the context of workplace training, social learning translates into employees sharing their knowledge and on-the-job experiences with each other to create a more effective learning environment. 

People process information differently when they learn from others. When learning content is exchanged in a social context, learners (or employees, in this case) are likely to participate more actively and in the process, retain more information. Social learning also enables employees to exchange different perspectives and learn to navigate conflicting points of view.

The challenge lies in making social learning just as effective in an online setting as its in-person counterpart. While most online learning platforms allow for learner interaction in the form of discussion boards, these interactions are mostly supplemental and have no bearing on the overall learner performance. 

On top of such tools, it is imperative that multiple channels of communication be added to the existing framework. Incorporating activities like open response assessments, especially when paired with peer reviews and feedback, can help social learning become an integral part of workplace training. 

2. Break It Down

Key lesson from creating workplace training products

Adapting to the rapidly reducing human attention span, workplace training should incorporate microlearning principles in order to make learning more effective. Employers may recognize the fact that more content does not necessarily translate into more learning, even though there is a strong temptation to incorporate more and more details in the training content. On top of that, most workers probably cannot dedicate long hours to training on top of their existing duties. Extremely long courses may discourage users from attempting any training at all.

Keeping training limited to a single learning objective at a time leads to more effective learning since small, bite-sized chunks of content are more likely to be retained. Creating micro-sized learning content is also very cost and time-efficient and any changes or updates to the content can be easily managed. 

With added benefits like spaced repetition and mobile learning, employees can experience workplace training in a non-disruptive way. Completing 15 minutes of training during your daily bus rides is probably far more attractive to an employee than having to set aside 90 minutes of their workday for training.

3. Pause and Reflect

Key lesson from creating workplace training products

For any learning intervention, it is crucial that the information presented resonates with the learners. This is especially important in workplaces since much of the training content needs to be applied practically. To do so, organizations must incorporate reflective pedagogy in workplace training. With reflective pedagogy, the idea is for the learners to take a step back and reflect on the content they’re presented with. 

Allowing learners to ponder shifts the way they approach learning itself, reflective learning has the potential to correct poor learning habits and affirm the good ones. Learners are encouraged to challenge any assumptions they may have and reexamine certain aspects of the training content. Doing so can have a lasting impact on the learners. 

But how does one incorporate reflective learning online? To start with, course authors can incorporate meaningful reflection prompts in the course and trust the learners to respond positively. It is essential that the learner is challenged and provided with the necessary structure to support self-reflection. 

4. Go with the Workflow

Key lesson from creating workplace training products

When creating training materials, organizations must resist the temptation to adopt the cookie-cutter approach and create generic workplace training content. While that may seem to be an efficient or cost-effective approach, the reality can be far from it. Without adding elements of personalization, any workplace training exercise is less likely to stick and employees may fail to translate what they’ve learned into its practical application.

Instead, companies must learn to design training by stepping away from traditional approaches to training and introducing content in the form of performance support. Incorporating learning within employees’ day-to-day tasks is a much more hands-on and effective training strategy. Each employee must have clarity on how any particular learning outcome translates directly into a performance outcome.

Before looking into ways to incorporate workflow learning, it is important to recognize moments when a learner may be more inclined to take in new information. According to research by Gottfredson and Mosher, there are 5 key moments when a person is motivated to learn:

  • When they need to apply something they’ve learned
  • When they have been given a challenge or a problem to solve
  • When something changes such as a process, system, technology, or manager
  • When new information is imparted for the first time
  • When what they know isn’t enough or good enough
5 moments of need
Gottfredson and Mosher’s 5 Moments of Need

In order to introduce training within the employee’s usual workflow, corporations must leverage any and all means available to them. Knowledge sharing sessions, informative emails, communications apps, or even visually appealing infographics shared over social media, any medium accessible to employees must be used to deliver just-in-time learning. 

5. Part of an Ecosystem

Key lesson from creating workplace training products

The final lesson we’ve learned from creating effective workplace training solutions is the benefit of creating a learning ecosystem within organizations. Learning ecosystems comprise five major components: good learning content, a well-defined training strategy, a positive culture of open communication and feedback, best-in-class technology and resources to support learning, and most importantly, the people that are engaged in the exchange of information and ideas.

The learning ecosystem components
Components of the Learning Ecosystem

The idea is to look at learning as a holistic solution, almost like a symbiotic environment, instead of disjointed pieces of training with no relationships to anything around them. In order to manifest this kind of ecosystem, everyone, from the course authors to the learners, must contribute to the learning. 

In the learning ecosystem, there is no hierarchical exchange of information, in fact, learning is decentralized and anyone with knowledge to contribute to the system is welcome to do so. This helps encourage peer-to-peer learning, which is agile, to-the-point, and much more useful since it is directly informed by employee experience. 

Edly’s Next-Generation Workplace Training Solutions

The ideas behind creating thoughtful and learner-centric workplace training solutions are not really revolutionary: these ideas are not novel but their current implementation in workplaces leaves much to be desired. By leveraging all tools available in the workplace to create short pieces of reflective, just-in-time learning content, employees can experience a richer and more interactive approach to learning. Doing so can help organizations keep up with the ever-changing workplace training landscape.

Edly’s workplace LMS allows organizations to train their employees at scale and is equipped with the right tools to create collaborative, engaging, and flexible learning solutions. With extensive reporting tools, employers can keep track of their workers’ performance, address particular areas of concern, and boost their employer brand. For more information on our next-generation workplace training solutions, please get in touch and request a demo!

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