Creating avenues for On-Demand Learning in the Modern Workplace

Posted on : March 10th, 2014
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On-Demand e-LearningLearning at the workplace is a continuous process. While formal training also has a place, more and more organizations are aligning towards informal ways of organizational learning.

On-Demand Learning is a type of informal learning that is ‘learner-led’ – where the learner moves along the course material, undirected and self-paced. On demand learning works for the corporate learners owing to the fact that workplace learners have realized that in this era of cut-throat competition, continuous learning gives them an extra edge. So they are enthusiastic learners and do not always needs a trainers/instructors encouragement to complete a learning course effectively. Also, corporate learners are more aware of what their learning needs are and can evaluate their strengths and weaknesses well. They are also open to suggestions from their peers or managers, if they perceive the value that a learning opportunity will provide to their career.

Training managers within an organization are now actively creating the avenues to make sure that in addition to formal trainings and custom courses, learners get access to on-demand learning as well – to increase the overall effectiveness of corporate learning. We explore some of the challenges that they face and the ways of overcoming them.

Challenge 1: Creating content for on-demand learning

Creating content for on-demand learning has to be fast, efficient and continuous. There are many ways of creating on-demand learning within an organization. There are pros and cons of each – so make the right choice keeping in mind the learner profile, learning needs and available budgets.

  • Content collated from the Internet
    • Social bookmarking sites like ‘Digg’ can filter through the excess or monitored sites like ‘Wikepedia’ can be a suitable, yet not always reliable, source of information.
    • Tools like Google Alerts or Yahoo Pipes are automatic content filters that can be very useful to direct relevant content for review through customizable criteria.
    • Syndication technologies such as RSS can be used as a means of personalized distribution of relevant content found on the internet. RSS feeds build a continuous repository of information that can be a ready source for on-demand learning. A variety of topics can be pushed, as per the learner needs, from offline sources within the organization as well as online source.
    • While this is a fairly in-expensive way of generating on-demand content, the biggest negative is the danger of excess. The internet spews up a lot of content and it is often difficult to weed out actual, usable knowledge out of the lot.
  • Employee Generated Content
    • Many organizations believe in tapping the expertise that resides within to generate learner-centric on-demand content.
    • Training teams make available the tools for rapid content development and experts are encouraged to share their knowledge.
    • While this makes a strong connect within the employees of the organization, the drawback of this method is that it depends largely on the availability and willingness to participate in the exercise of building content
  • Off-the-Shelf Content Libraries
    • The Off-the-Shelf Content Libraries offer organizations ready access to high-quality, vetted and verified content, which is available in a variety of flexible formats to suit the learner.
    • With the changing profile of the learner, the content can be adapted to be viewed online or offline and through a variety of devices including laptops as well as mobile devices like smart-phones or tablets. The option of print and video content is also available.
    • While this might seem to be the obvious choice for many reasons, it might not always be an inexpensive one. The training budget should take into account the cost of buying courses from the libraries from time to time – as per the needs of the learners.
  • Creating Custom Content
    • On-demand learning content can also be created to address specific learner needs.
    • Short bursts of learning work best, directed towards filling a need quickly and efficiently.
    • These courses should ideally have minimum on-screen text and impart information through short pointers, graphics, audio or video.
    • A series of such courses can be created and made searchable on the learning management platform through meta-tagging. This would allow the learner to browse and quickly find what they are looking for and gain knowledge instantly.

Challenge 2: Assessing learner needs and matching them to relevant content

In addition to making on-demand content available for the learners, Training Managers also need to make sure that the right content is delivered to the learner – as per their personal needs and requirements. For this, learner assessments are necessary and can be conducted in the following ways.

  • Skill-gap analysis: By mapping the job-roles that an employee needs to take on and existing skills that he or she has, managers or superiors can ascertain the skill-gap of a learner. Many learner management systems have built-in skill gap analysis tools which can automatically create customized learning plans for each learner – directing them towards the right content to fulfill their roles and responsibilities well.
  • Employee Surveys: Since corporate learners have deeper understanding of their own learning needs, employee surveys can also be conducted to successfully ascertain the perceived need-gaps of learning. By analyzing the results, learners can then be provided relevant content – as per their individual needs.

Challenge 3: Create a robust technology platform that provides just-in-time delivery

With emerging technologies, it is now possible to deliver on-demand learning when and where the learner needs it the most.

  • With the rising popularity and availability of mobile devices, mobile-based technology has been harnessed to deliver just-in-time learning.
  • A variety of on-demand learning courses can be created and delivered – which best suits the mobile learning platform. Short videos and podcasts can be especially effective, providing impactful nuggets of learning where the learner does not have to read on-screen text but just watch or listen and learn instantly.
  • Modern LMSs are also mobile compatible, so on-demand content can be accessed via the device that best suits the learner and the progress is synched automatically – even if the learner chooses multiple devices to access a particular course.
  • To create better ROI, the content can be developed with tools like HTML5 which ensures that it can be successfully rendered across multiple devices and there is no need to create different versions for the mobile delivery.

In Conclusion, today’s workforce is constantly aware of its own learning needs, creating a situation where learning opportunities have to be learner-driven or on-demand. We have listed some of the challenges and solutions that Training Managers often face to create a successful on-demand learning avenues – though the list is definitely not conclusive. We hope to keep sharing more from the cauldron of our experiences. To know more, write to info@gc-solutions.net
 

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is an e-learning blogger and likes discussing innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

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