Learning in the flow of life

Generational and technological shifts have fueled the rise of microlearning, as people prefer to learn not just in the flow of work but in everyday life, say getAbstract’s UK vice-president of sales Jayne D’Silva and enterprise relationship manager Kartik Bhatt

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How has digital learning evolved in recent years?

KB: The pace of technological change alongside demographic shifts in the workplace - with Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z all working in one organisation - has shaped how we learn, and digital trends are evolving to satisfy this modern-day learner. Microlearning has become a core part of every organisation’s learning strategy because it offers short, focused pieces of content with actionable learning objectives that slot easily into the little time people have available to learn.

Adaptive learning is also proving transformational, with AI algorithms that detect knowledge or skill gaps to deliver learning activities bespoke to each learner. Learning personalisation is fundamental to the success of any digital learning strategy. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach no longer engages learners, who expect learning to be aligned to their individual role and personal development objectives.

What is involved in a successful content-driven learning strategy?

KB: When computer-based training first emerged in the 1990s, organisations were buying huge libraries of content and just throwing it at a wall hoping it would stick, which mostly it didn’t. Digital content has improved over the past 30 years, but the most important thing is to contextualise it to individual learners. It’s pointless having brilliant content unless people know about it.

Relevant content also has to be available to each learner. Getting the right content to the right learner at the right time was once seen as a marketing responsibility but content creation, delivery and governance are very important to the L&D function now. People don’t want to spend time learning what they may or may not need well into the future. Furthermore, through a well-defined content learning strategy, organisations can create a framework that includes content-rich media assets, metadata and relationships between learning assets, which all contribute to taxonomised, contextualised and relevant learning content.

What does it mean to learn in the flow of work?

JDS: Learning in the flow of work is about embedding small learning opportunities into the work day by providing learners with the right content at the right time in the right format. Learning becomes seamless, without any disruption to the work activity. It’s like having the [authors and public speakers] Simon Sinek, Stephen Covey or Tony Robbins follow you around providing short bursts of advice. It provides learners with context, so they can immediately apply what they have learned, and improves knowledge retention and recall as the learning is available on demand and can be accessed multiple times. At getAbstract, we firmly believe people are increasingly learning in the flow of life. When people search online for answers they don’t even realise that learning is taking place. It has simply become part of the flow of life.

Where does compressed learning fit into this?

KB: Josh Bersin’s research on the modern-day learner confirmed that employees only dedicate 1% of a typical work week to focusing on learning and development, which is 24 minutes per week. Compressed learning is crucial. The modern-day learner is overwhelmed and constantly distracted with emails, calls and the like, so if learning isn’t compressed the average person will have neither the time nor the motivation to consume and retain content. Social media platforms have contributed to much lower attention spans, so if you want to make learning relevant, you need to give access to precisely the right information, in an actionable format, and deliver it when and where it’s needed.

What are the key learning challenges as companies adapt to the hybrid way of working post-pandemic?

JDS: A positive aspect of the recent challenges has been the emergence of flexible hybrid working and an increased emphasis on mental health and wellbeing. These changes have put individual learners in charge of how they work and learn. People are suffering from digital fatigue, so companies are encouraging their workforce to take time away from the screen. The podcasts or audio files they listen to while walking, exercising or even gardening represent a different style of learning. Meanwhile, with the normalisation of online meetings and the use of chats and virtual whiteboards, learners can be actively engaged regardless of their location. L&D teams have had to adapt very quickly to embrace virtual learning.

KB: The social collaboration element of learning has suffered the most, due to hybrid and remote working. It is well documented that we learn through interactions with our coaches, mentors and peers, but dispersed workforces have made these vital aspects of learning difficult to achieve. The lack of social collaboration has affected learning performance. The daily micro-interactions we used to have with our colleagues in the office are missing. L&D teams need to come up with creative and interactive ways of maintaining a social connection between employees, creating an environment in which they can learn from each other.

How is getAbstract supporting learners and organisations?

JDS: As learning increasingly happens in the flow of life, not just at work, getAbstract helps learners make better decisions in both their business and personal lives. We provide access to the best business thinking through multiple formats at the point of need. Whether through reading, listening to audio files or watching videos, getAbstract provides unbiased, actionable knowledge in a timely manner and builds a platform for curiosity to prevail. Our compressed content allows individuals to fit learning into their busy lives and helps build digital capabilities across teams, while also supporting a self-directed learning approach where learners can develop at their own speed. Our purpose is simply to make the world a better place, one decision at a time, through access to relevant and actionable knowledge. In 10 minutes you can learn something new, keep up to date with the world and make things happen!

For more information, download getAbstract’s Content First! guide for L&D leaders at hub.getabstract.com/content-first

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