The great leapfrog
Shaping the future of learning
For sure, there is change in the air. Who isn’t talking about digital transformation? We’re now in the early stages of the fourth industrial revolution after all. With the convergence of people and our digital and physical worlds, by 2020 our colleagues will actually be of the robotic kind (if you believe some of the doomsday articles regularly pushed out in the press).
The fourth revolution is here
It’s unlikely to happen that soon but for sure, the seismic shift in how, where we work and learn will soon just feel like a seamless digital transitional experience. Whereas our days are traditionally segmented and defined by key daily milestones, these will soon cease to exist for a large part of our corporate workforce.
But there is something else happening here that is especially interesting, especially in the Asian region as a result of rapid modernisation: It’s the ‘Great Leapfrog’.
If you can imagine, there are very large organisations that have been very slow to adopt even simplistic digital learning strategies and rely on more traditional ways of learning and engaging learners. Interestingly, instead of following in the footsteps of the tried and tested Western development (because that’s often the easiest option to copy rather than innovate), the fourth revolution and all the technological improvements and advances that come with it (from bandwidth and infrastructure to device ownership and end-user expectations/experience), Asia is on its own journey. Being able to leap frog generations of poorly designed learning and clunky LMSs that learners in the West have been subjected to is becoming a thing of the past. The acceleration of development across the region, organisations (with some trepidation no doubt) are boldly going forth with their own plans, bespoke to their audience. Engaging learners using the latest technologies - because now they can.
What is the latest? It is very easy to get confused and overwhelmed with the different buzzwords, technology options, learning styles and technical requirements - especially if you’re relatively new to all of this. And even if you’re not, the sheer speed of change and disruption in our marketplace can really muddle your thoughts.
Whilst it might feel less daunting to just leverage systems/tools/processes of Western counterparts who are in more established learning environments, the geographical, political, technical and accessibility challenges in Asia are different and requires an alternate approach. If you are at the beginning stages of your digital learning overhaul and planning, take a moment to think through your approach to market. There are many options and with careful planning, you can cut through some of the noise and arrive at the optimum solutions to meet your changing needs.
Here are some holistic points to consider to help you on your way:
- Define learning needs and outcomes
Before you do anything, identify the actual learning needs of your audience. What types of learners are they, how do they like to learn, and where they are located, what are the likely technical challenges by-country and so forth?
- Dream big but start small
Especially if this is your first foray into the digital learning space it pays to start small through targeted focus groups. Test the water with proof of concepts first and feed these results into your bigger plans for the future.
- Be technology agnostic
Don’t follow the herd. For example, implementing a technology that looks great on the surface but does not necessarily address your required learning or business objectives would be disastrous.
- Don't jump on the bandwagon
Tempting as it is to throw the latest buzzword or craze into your digital strategy (I want some gamification with a touch of Pokemon Go…), in many cases, this is counter-productive and I refer back to point one above – what are the learning objectives?
- Future proof
Can it scale? Is it responsive across all devices? What is the history of the provider and what’s in the product roadmap? Will it be accessible and meaningful in the next 3 or 5 years?
- Don't over engineer it
For example, if it is a face-to-face engagement needed then make it work as part of a blend. Remember, not everything needs to be digital (especially true if you follow the 70:20:10 theory). You can’t always replicate the intimacy of face-to-face into a digital environment, so don’t waste valuable time and resources trying to do so.
- Use technology to support and enhance
As nice as it can look, ensure the technology truly enhances and supports the learning objectives. What you don’t need is just a pretty interface and distractions – learners don’t have the time.
- Avoid post-implementation blues
After the fanfare of the launch, there will most likely be a ‘dip’ in take-up and dependent on how you manage this, it can have damaging consequences all round. Driving momentum is going to be critical to keeping your new strategy at the forefront of learners’ minds across the organisation, make sure you have a plan.
- Accessible, available and additional
Design your strategy so that it encompasses the short-to-the-point types of learning but do not discount the deep additional learning if/when a learner wants togo deeper. Make it accessible and consistent across all learner groups and of course if you can, make it look visually stunning and performance enhancing for learners 24/7.