Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. Or so says Pablo Picasso.
Now, no disrespect to Picasso, we disagree. He may have had a point back in 1968. But today, technological advancement has unleashed the computer as so much more. A tool for experience, for thinking, for interacting and collaborating.
Naturally, education has taken a turn for the better, too. Together with eCourses, multimedia, podcasts, and webinars, corporate education has transformed from siloed, on-site training sessions to continuous eLearning.
Learning is no longer restricted to that dreaded workshop, held at your busiest time of day, in a windowless room that smells remarkably like humans. No, digital learning is accessible, it’s relevant, and it’s personalized. And it’s more easily digestible, too. Think about it…
From call center agents to journalists, all the way to Chief Financial Officers, almost every job today requires a digital touch. And working and learning go hand in hand.
So, if you spend 60-90% of your day digitally, why would you want to learn from a book or a whiteboard? You wouldn’t, just as you wouldn’t teach an artist to paint with a typewriter.
This is why corporations go ahead with developing a digital learning strategy more and more with each passing year. Most corporations actually choose digital learning because it can be up to 60% cheaper than traditional, on-site training. But being a cheaper solution only matters if it’s an effective solution.
Like any smart organizational initiative, effective digital learning is carefully planned and designed to meet business needs. Therefore, an effective digital learning strategy is a must.
The New Year is but a baby and you’ve still got time. So we’ve designed a guide to help you optimize your digital learning strategy in 2017, starting right now.
Building Your Base: Organizational Strategic Priorities
And if your employees have any interest in self-development, they’ll appreciate the opportunity to grow their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
But, the expense invested into their learning should also contribute to the organization’s bottom line – a mutual gain. Because an investment is always measured by its return.
So while Social History classes might seem like fun to your Senior Accountant, they ‘re probably not going to help him help you achieve your strategic business goals. Right?
This is why the first step toward developing your digital learning strategy, is to refine your business strategy. What are the key strategic priorities for your organization this year? What do you need to do as an organization in order to move forward, to compete, to win?
Perhaps you’re an eLearning company that wants to expand its reach to learners globally? Your key strategic priorities might be to increase global sales and to solidify a global brand reputation.
These strategic priorities will form the base on which you build for all your digital learning strategies.
Targeting Your Talent: ‘Biggest Impact’ Teams
Now that you know your key strategic priorities, the next important step is to know who will help you to achieve them.
Sure, we know that everyone in the organization is important, and everyone plays a unique role. But the trick is not to think of ‘just another day at the office’, and rather ask yourself a simple question.
If one person or team had to leave tomorrow, whose absence would be most detrimental to the achievement of our key strategic priorities? Who’s leaving would have the greatest impact?
Imagine a traditional software development company making a strategic move into the app market. Now take away the team of app developers they’ve just recruited. Problem. The company’s key resource for achieving their strategic priority has been stripped. You’d agree it’s going to be near impossible to successfully develop apps without app developers.
Once you’ve identified your biggest impact team(s), that is where you’ll target your digital learning strategy.
Breaking It Down: Behaviors and Abilities for Development
With your biggest impact teams in mind, bridge the gap between organization and employee by evaluating the knowledge, skills, behaviors, attitudes or values that would need to change in order to achieve your strategic priorities.
What are your employees able to do now? What should they be able to do? And what needs to change to make the answers to these two questions the same?
This step should be integrated with, and nested in, the organization’s broader Learning and Development (L&D) strategy.
Let’s take the very current example of financial technology, more fondly known as ‘fintech”. Almost every bank and financial institution today (or at least those choosing to remain competitive) is looking to develop internal capabilities for fintech.
Key employee development areas would include knowledge of economic and regulatory frameworks, and disruptive innovation, as well as the skills for financial modeling and strategic and competitive analysis. The achievement and application of these key development areas would then be at the center of all online learning strategies and linked to career planning for the biggest impact teams.
The aim is to leverage your digital learning strategy to develop the right people, in the right way, so that they’re setup to achieve organizational success. This is why the key performance areas for your biggest impact teams should become integral to their career development plans.
Linking Learning to Objectives: The When and How
Next, considering the key areas for development for your biggest impact teams, formulate the learning objectives that should be achieved through digital learning. What should your people be equipped to do once they’ve completed different stages of training?
By knowing the ‘what’, you‘ll be in a better position to understand the ‘how’. The content, the delivery (online versus blended), the tools (multimedia, readings, interactive assessments, live sessions, etc.) and the timing (‘just in time’ versus ‘just in case’) will all be informed by the learning objectives.
Companies developing and selling consumer technology, for example, are under continuous pressure to innovate in order to remain competitive. But innovation isn’t found in the pages of a book. Rather, it’s a necessary part of organizational culture. So, innovation-based learning would need to be delivered continuously to their biggest impact teams, probably in the form of regular practical activities and thought-provoking content.
During this step, you might even find that some learning objectives are better achieved in a traditional training setting. But the trick is to let the objectives guide the means to their achievement.
Ready, Set, Learn: Executing Your Digital Learning Strategy
Finally, it’s time to make all that magical strategy come to life.
Although Human Resources (HR) make the decision to incorporate digital learning in 50% of cases, it’s important that you get all the stakeholders on board. That includes functional leads and senior management because a widely-supported digital learning strategy is a successful digital learning strategy.
Employees will feel more motivated to practice what they learn if the work environment and leadership encourages them to do just that.
It’s also recommended that you work with an experienced Learning Management System provider at this stage. An engaging and user-friendly LMS will ensure that your employees get the most from your content and achieve those learning objectives.
There’s No Better Time Than Right Now
There’s truth in the saying “there’s no better time than today”. So why wait for March to turn into April, which will soon enough run into September to start developing a digital learning strategy? Use this guide to jump into action and get the business results you are looking for in 2017.