When I first started working in the eLearning industry in the late '90s, I had a poster behind my desk that declared, "Learning anytime, anywhere." That was the big idea driving employee learning at the time. It was one of the first steps leading us toward the exciting realm of the learning experience.
Self-directed, informal, personalized learning has been making great strides in the workplace ever since. But something exciting has been happening as of late: Learning anytime, anywhere is not only making a comeback, it's making a noticeable impact at organizations that leverage the learning experience as a strategy, not a product.
Now, you could make the argument that self-directed and informal learning never faded away to the point where it's making a comeback – that it has, in fact, been steadily building momentum over the past few decades. But it's difficult to argue that the concept and practice of self-directed, informal, and now personalized learner experiences have recently resurfaced with renewed vitality and strategy driving the practice of personalized learning in a way that has greatly affected the modern learning experience – particularly due to the rise of mobile learning.
I recently discussed what makes an exceptional modern learning experience with David Wentworth, Principal Learning Analyst at Brandon Hall Group and how it's important to start with "why" before you start taking steps to success. But we most certainly didn't stop there.
Get the 3 keys to a strong personalized learner experience
So what goes into a good learning experience and how does that differ from what we've seen in the past?
Listen in to my second of four Q&A-style chats with David Wentworth, as we get further into the strategies and details of what makes a powerful modern learner experience, including the three keys to a stellar personalized learner experience.
In our conversation, you'll hear insights about:
- The role of technology to enable your personalized learning experience strategy
- What learner preferences need to be considered to create a personalized learner experience
- The value of putting the learner in driver's seat of their own development
It's time to listen in and learn like you:
David Wentworth: Hi, everybody, and thanks for joining us in our Audio Blog series on Learner Experience. On today's blog, we're going to talk a little bit about what goes into a good modern learning experience and how it differs from traditional L&D. I am David Wentworth, the Principal Learning Analyst here at Brandon Hall Group. I am joined by Carl Crisostomo, who is the Product Manager for Content at Saba Software.
Carl, we've talked a little bit in other instances of these Audio Blogs about why it's important to have a modern learning experience, and we've also talked about effectively implementing and measuring a modern learning experience. But what goes into a good learning experience and how does that differ from what we've seen in the past?
Carl Crisostomo: Yeah. I think from a learner's perspective, there are three things really that stand out in terms of what makes a good learning experience. I think the first one is that experience has to be relevant and interesting. It's aligned, from relevancy point of view, to personal goals – as a learner, I need to be able to see how it connects to business goals. I think it also needs to be visually engaging. We often talk now about beautiful learning experiences. I think modern learning technology can really help you raise your game in this area. Modern learning technology can start engaging learners in the learning conversation about what's important to the learner, it can pull on external and internal data about them, and it can track their behaviors. And all of these things really help bring some relevance to the experience.
I think the second thing is that it should be delivered in a style that the learner likes and in their language. So you need to get to understand what the learner likes and give it to them in that style. We need to understand the language (or even the multiple languages) that the learner speaks and give the learning experience to them in that language. At this point, I can hear people saying, "This is really difficult. I've got (for example) 3,000 employees in eight locations around the world; this is a really tough thing to do."
To deliver truly personalized learning experience at scale, this is what's required. Again, modern learning technologies can really help out. Through the use of AI, you can get to know these preferences and it helps direct the learner as well.
One area that really excites me – and I think it's a bit of a game-changer – is when we move into the realms of hyper-personalization in learning. Hyper-personalization is a term I stole from our marketing colleagues here at Saba and platforms such as volley.com. They're bringing AI into content creation and they're creating tailored experiences by curating content from both inside and outside of the organization. This curated content and these experiences are aligned to the learner's needs, so it's really in the style of what that particular individual wants.
Thirdly, I think it should be easy to access wherever the learner is and whenever they need it. When I first started working in eLearning in the late 1990s, I had a poster behind my desk, it was from SmartForce and it said, "Learning anytime, anywhere" and that was a big marketing message at the time. I think this idea has been recently resurfaced and is now driven firstly by mobile, and more around the recent idea of learning in the flow of work. This concept is centered on surfacing learning in systems, which I spent most of my time working on when I first entered the industry.
David Wentworth: You mentioned that the idea around learning anytime, anywhere. Then you also mentioned a bit about some of the technologies. So what has happened? Is it that the LMS has not been able to deliver on the promise of "Learning anytime, anywhere" that has been around for years now? Is that why we're having this renewed conversation?
Carl Crisostomo: Yeah. I think LMSs have been slow in adopting improved learning experiences. This has led to the rise of learning experience platforms. They're changing how we think about delivering learning or experiences to our learners. What's quite funny here is, something interesting is happening in this space: Some LXP providers are slowly becoming LMSs. And now LMSs are making a charge for the LXP space. It'll be interesting to see what happens in this mash-up of technology. It's certainly quite confusing for the buyer.
David Wentworth: True. And I think that's just born out of the fact that a complete learning experience is going to have requirements that the LMS is uniquely poised to deliver on. We've talked about things like compliance and certifications and that type of tracking, where the LXPs do a lot of the other stuff. So we do start to see the blending where more core functional LMSs start to adopt some of that LXP functionality, whereas fewer LXP players are starting to adopt some of that core LMS functionality, so they can try to meet as many need as they possibly can. But I think, we're currently in a place where they have to and they seem to play pretty well together to make sure that all their needs are met, in a seamless environment for the learner.
Carl Crisostomo: Exactly. The learner is most important in their particular conversation.
David Wentworth: Yeah. So what are some of the elements required to say that you've got a good learning experience? We talked a little bit about the relevancy and the ties to outcomes. Let's talk a little bit more about things like personalization and contextualization. You mentioned a bit about AI, as far as content creation – what about just within the experience itself?
Carl Crisostomo: Yeah. When it comes to personalization, we've got names like LXP, LEP, and modern integrated corporate learning platforms, all of these things. I think what we're seeing is that they're all approaching it from lots of different directions. But when you cut through all of those layers, you're looking at a few things and personalization is one of them. How do you put the learner at the center of the experience? How do you get it working for their needs? I mentioned it extends out to that idea of learning in the flow of work and how we can bring learning to an employee's day-to-day workflow as well.
I think another one is this idea of connectivity. There are so many great resources inside and outside of the organization as well. It's about tapping into an experience that takes advantage of that and allows the learner to connect to those different experiences. They could be libraries of content, learning courses, assets or experiences that are created in-house, and even stuff that sits on places like SharePoint and things that are out there on the web. It comes down to how we bring all of these things together in one place.
David Wentworth: One of the key elements in this learning experience is we're seeing big improvement in companies being able to connect learners with one another. It started to bubble up a few years ago in the big talk around social learning and collaborative learning. It's a real, key element of this new experience that companies are finally waking up and realizing that they've hired a bunch of smart people in their organization. I think if you went to their recruitment folks and their onboarding team, they'd say, "Listen, we find the best candidates, we hire the best people, but then for some reason, once they're hired, the learning department doesn't want them talking to each other, or sharing any information."
We've finally started to break that a bit and realized that, look, this is where people go for information anyway; they turn to their peers, they turn to people they trust. Let's give them the tools and platforms to do that in a much easier way that's scalable and repeatable and reusable, so that those interactions don't just come and go, but then they become part of the entire source of truth for learning.
That's a little bit about what goes into a good modern learning experience. I hope you join us for some of the other Audio Blogs in this series on the learner experience. We'll talk a little bit more about implementing that experience as well as measuring it. I want to thank Carl for joining me and all of you for listening in and we hope you enjoyed this Audio Blog. Thank you.