In the current highly competitive market, learning and development is becoming a major issue for all companies. Brands, especially in the luxury industry, need to have highly qualified staff to ensure the best personalized customer experience which is now more than ever expected and to keep their competitive advantage.
The demand for learning program is also a new reality. Employees expect to continue to enhance their skills and knowledge at work, both at a personal and a professional level. They are willing to learn and expect their managers to support them in this regard.
However, what the real benefits of corporate learning are for a brand is often hard to evaluate. It is difficult to integrate staff training to a workday without thinking of it being a waste of time, productivity or money.
According to Bersin by Deloitte: 1% of a typical work week is all that employees have to focus on training and development.
Learning must be integrated as an entire component of work, by giving employees dedicated time for learning. This time will benefit the brand significantly through more employee productivity, quality and wellbeing.
The challenge is to engage learners and to give them a learning program which will be gainful both for them and for the brand.
The modern workplace needs to become the social institution that helps people keep growing for the rest of their adult life.
If you want to engage learners you have to give them useful and relevant training. You have to understand what your learners are expecting, what they need and what motivate them. It will benefit you to provide personalized and accurate content, in the right format and using the right tools. In short, ENGAGE THEM.
WHAT IS THE BEST FORMAT?
An important element in engaging your learner is to choose an effective format.
“Traditional” classroom training
The “traditional” classroom training format provides a
strong basis for learning. Offering dedicated learning time helps provide focus
(learners are not interrupted by external distraction), it offers a private
forum for learners to discuss personal experiences and the possibility for the
trainer to give personalized advice. It also favors social interactions between
learners (regarding the learning program or creating cohesion
and social opportunities).
By offering time to learn, organizations show their employees they care about them and are investing in developing their skills and knowledge.
Although classroom training should remain part of your learning & development strategy to involve all your employees in a learning community and offer direct personalized advice, we now understand that this traditional format might not be sufficient to meet modern learners’ expectations.
Digital learning formats offer other benefits to better answer your learners’ current needs and more easily engage them.
The digital learning format represents all training provided on-line or utilizing digital tools.
Though it can also refer to digital content provided in classroom training, we will focus here on digital learning provided online, via computer, tablet or mobile phone.
Digital learning formats offer various advantages that learners are currently looking for. Among them:
- Autonomy and flexibility: on a computer, tablet or smartphone, learners can complete learning modules whenever and wherever they want.
- Intuitive and playful content: this format enables the integration of playful tools that create engagement.
- Self-evaluation and customization: digital learning programs enable learners to directly evaluate themselves and can automatically highlight completed modules and their results.
It also presents several advantages for the organizations:
- Flexibility: thanks to digital, the same training content is easily shared at limited costs to a large group of learners.
- Customization and reporting: it is easier to provide personalized content to every learner and to quickly collect learners’ performance and learning data.
As an integrated and complete learning & development strategy with specially designed tools, digital learning ensures an efficient and playful way to learn. Combined with classroom training, digital learning provides all the advantages to create an efficient learning program and engage your learners.
Your digital learning strategy should combine online and classroom learning. Blended-learning, a mix of different learning formats, is the best way to engage your learners and to be sure that the knowledge will be assimilated.
A study by the US Department of Education found that, “a combination of online learning resources and face-to-face instructions is the most effective way to learn”.
Blended learning also has the advantage of providing an adapted format to all types of learners (listeners, do-ers, observers, etc…)
Flexibility, autonomy and personalized advice are the current learners’ expectations. Providing great personalized learning content through different formats is a guarantee of high engagement.
This combination is today more than ever possible thanks to the increasing use of smartphones. They make access to digital learning easy and can improve classroom training. More than all the digital learning formats, mobile learning enables the easy integration of playful tools and high levels of engagement.
HOW TO IMPROVE LEARNING WITH DIGITAL
Mobile learning revenues in Asia reached $4,5billion in 2014 and will increase to $7,7billion by 2019.
The current generation and the following ones are definitively mobile users.
Mobile-learning represents the best format to offer autonomy and flexibility. Your employees can complete learning program chapters whenever they have time.
Learners are able to carry the training content and knowledge with them on their mobile device and refer to it anywhere at any time. They can directly apply what they have learned during a workshop with their colleagues or just before a client meeting.
Diversity is an important factor for engaging learners. Many tools can be used to create deeper involvement and strengthen your learning program.
The digital learning format allows your content to be adapted to ensure your employees stay engaged.
Micro-learning consists for creating brief content (2-3 minute videos, short text, quizzes, etc) within your digital learning modules, allowing for a mixture of learning formats to be presented.
To create several short chapters with different formats helps learners to stay engaged and to have continuous training by working through the content whenever they can.
Considered as less annoying than text, video content helps learners to better retain information (in classroom or online). In relation to the micro-learning concept, short videos are the best choice.
Moreover, video content offers many creative possibilities. For example, animated videos are a good way to give short important messages with accurate illustrations to help learners retain the knowledge.
Furthermore, interactive videos help to go beyond the limit of the one-way communication of a video format.
Interactive video has ten times the impact a normal video generates.
Interactivity and playfulness are the main objectives of
gamification (i.e. including gaming strategy in a professional context).
To stay interested in learning, people need challenges and an element of uncertainty. A gamified learning program offers a challenging and a playful way to improve learners’ skills.
Asia-Pacific is expected to become one of the major adopters of gamification techniques by 2020.
Gamification gives short-term, fun objectives to learners. You can create learning levels, personalized certificates or rewards that can be shared within the learning group. Duel quiz format can also create a friendly competition between learners and encourage them to improve their knowledge for the next challenge.
To successfully include games in your training, keep two things in mind. Firstly, gamification is just a tool to engage your learners, to make them want to come back to your learning program and move on to the next chapters. Secondly, to create a compelling game but with useless content will not work in the long term.
The key is to provide great, personalized content using interesting personalized tools.
TO GO FURTHER WITH DIGITAL
Today, people want to learn more, to have more human interactions but also more autonomy.
Learners want flexibility in their learning program but they could also need a real expert to answer questions. Learning instructors should be available exactly when learners need them.
Social interactions are a solution to support your learners in their program. Thanks to the digital learning format, you can create discussion forums and online chats to facilitate communication between the learner and the trainer.
The digital format also enhances interactions between learners. Forums provide the opportunity to exchange opinions, create cohesion and provide motivation for further learning. For learners that have already completed a module, they can explain what they have learned to other learners, giving them an opportunity to participate.
Online forums can create a learning culture and a sense of belonging amongst your employees.
According to HR Magazine, Fortune 500 companies lose roughly $31, 5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge.
Discussion forums also represent great opportunities for the brands to retain their employees’ knowledge. Opinions and expertise remain in the forum even after “expert” learners have left.
If you want to go further in helping your learners to transfer theories to reality, augmented reality is a current hot topic. It is the promise of an ideal case study simulation mixed with a playful and efficient way to retain important information.
It may be Goldman Sachs projects that by 2025, 15 million users of educational AR will represent a $700 million market.
It’s difficult to imagine how augmented reality can serve your future objectives. From a physical classroom to a virtual simulation, it represents just a step in your mind but something altogether different to integrate into a real organization.
However, augmented reality (not to be confused with virtual reality) is an accessible way to improve your digital learning program.
For example, you could send your newly launched product to every employee directly on their smartphone for them to examine in 3D detail. You could let your learners enter inside a product’s mechanism to better understand it and learn about each component. You could even train your learners with professional simulations in a virtual store or office.
Many opportunities exist to help your learners apply their knowledge in the real (or virtual) environment.
RIGHT FORMAT… & RIGHT CONTENTS!
Your staff are your brand ambassadors and if they are well-trained, they can offer a professional and memorable shopping experience. Clients are now fully informed about your products and your brand. In store, they are expecting personalized advice from experts who represent the brand. Furthermore, they expect to find this seamless experience in every stores of the brand, worldwide.
To reach this goal, a continuous learning program with appropriate learning content is essential. Indeed, beyond the format, the learning content is of utmost importance in engaging your learners. Learning content has to be personalized and adapted to improve learners’ skills regarding their duties and the brand’s strategy.
While good content must be useful and relevant; learners are more engaged and retain more information if they can transfer it to their real environment. Even the best learner in a theory-base class might be unable to adapt the knowledge to a real-life situation. This is the reason why, in addition to creating high-quality, personalized learning content, you have to deliver it through an efficient format with engaging tools.
To this purpose, blended learning represents the perfect solution to provide adapted learning to all your employees. As we have seen above, the digital format offers flexibility, interactivity and autonomy to learners. Combined with classroom training, it creates a complete and effective program and ensures continuous learning to your staff.
Last but not least, content and format need to constantly evolve to keep your learners engaged!
Blended learning: a mix of different learning formats or tools
Mobile learning: learning content provided on a mobile application or mobile website
Micro-learning: learning content created in short and mixed formats (video, text, audio)
Gamification: integration of game strategy in a professional environment
Interactive video: video format supporting user’s interaction (digital touchscreen, voice, clicking…)
Augmented reality: to enhance reality adding information, animation or image on a real environment through a device (ex. smartphone camera).
Virtual reality: to create a complete virtual environment integrating visual and audio stimulation and supporting user’s interaction