Tools & Tips

COVID-19 – Promote and enhance digital learning

A substantial increase in the use of digital delivery globally is under way across all segments of the workforce, from frontline managers to senior leaders. In regions such as Asia, where travel restrictions and work-from-home policies have been in place for weeks, digitally enabled experiences have also created new benefits. These include an increased sense of community, purpose, and focus for people who are no longer connecting with their colleagues in a co-located workplace. Around the world, organizations are using digital learning to increase collaboration among teams that are working either remotely or across different time zones, as they take courses together and collaborate in virtual formats (such as videoconferencing and instant messaging). These are good arguments for placing additional emphasis on digital learning as the number of people working remotely because of COVID-19 increases.

It is too early to say how COVID-19 will ultimately affect the accelerated adoption of digital learning. What is clearly different today is that keeping people safe and reducing risk has, for now, displaced cost as the key driver behind digital learning. For learning leaders, that opens an opportunity to promote existing digitally enabled portfolios of learning offerings as a way to help colleagues during challenging times. Targeted communication that reminds employees that learning doesn’t stop when travel is curtailed, for example, may boost attention to available digital offerings.

What is clearly different today is that keeping people safe and reducing risk has, for now, displaced cost as the key driver behind digital learning.

The uptake in virtual delivery also provides learning leaders with an opportunity to enhance the digital experience of employee learners. One way is for leaders to tie communication to the learners’ individual motivations, such as a sense of personal, community, or company purpose. Another is to have senior leaders model desired behaviors through active participation in digital courses.

When possible, include social-learning components. These can include discussion boards, along with participant journeys that focus on cohorts of people undertaking programs together on a set schedule rather than on individuals working at their own pace. Also consider small (potentially virtual) group projects to drive engagement, connectivity, and application.

Finally, it is important in these rapidly evolving times to reinforce the link between business outcomes and longer-term capability building. Learning doesn’t occur only in one-off, discrete events; it should be thought of as part of broader learning journeys that last 12 to 18 months and tie clearly to business outcomes. Travel restrictions may affect in-person learning programs in today’s environment, but capability building needs to continue in order to advance long-term goals.

Explore alternative digital-learning strategies

As organizations increasingly promote their existing portfolios of digital-learning options, a handful indicate that they are also considering migrating some existing in-person training programs to an all-digital format. Such efforts go beyond merely applying existing technology solutions to offer virtual classrooms. Rather, they represent a more fundamental rethinking of the learning experience to enable collaborative, interactive social-learning experiences for groups of learners. Digital-learning providers recognize that COVID-19 is a catalyst for this transition and are looking to help their corporate customers accelerate their transformation. Some are even offering reduced or complimentary services to help encourage new customers to accelerate such a transition.

Adhering to several principles can help migrate an in-person course to a fully digital experience. Start by reframing the “learning problem” as a design opportunity and rethink the learner’s end-to-end experience as a designer would. Set priorities for the essential learning objectives and focus intently on selecting the content that will meet them. Design for shorter interactions and provide more time between sessions to strengthen learning. Focus on human connections whenever possible, creating intentional, meaningful interactions. Finally, support a seamless learning experience from first contact to last and ensure the same learning experience for all participants.

As organizations explore the longer-term impli-cations of an increasingly digital environment for workplace learning, it may be worth considering (or reconsidering) nonmainstream technology solutions that could reduce the need for face-to-face interaction. Some examples include virtual-reality training simulations and higher-end moderated virtual classrooms. All of these can enable new and different ways to engage learners. Implementing such solutions may take longer than other action items we previously listed, and companies will have to weigh possible outcomes against the evolving long-term implications of events such as COVID-19 on their workplace learning.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Workplace learning during coronavirus | McKinsey

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