The digital age has revolutionized every aspect of corporate processes, including corporate learning. There are many online courses, apps, and social media that can help us get just-in-time knowledge when we have gaps in our knowledge, at work, or in our personal lives. Every company faces the challenge of reskilling its workforce to keep up with technological change, business disruption and global competition.
However, the traditional method of learning, which was done through classroom training, is now being replaced by more cost-effective, real-time learning methods. This is critical in allowing employees to learn new technologies at a rapid pace that vendors provide.
Millennials, who are the largest workforce, demand new learning methods that use social collaboration, video and mobile apps. Corporate learning departments are trying to figure out how and where to combine face-to-face learning with modern learning methods.
The following experts discuss the future trends and challenges.
Jim Carroll is a speaker and consultant on business transformation.
Karie Willard, Workplace Futurist at SAP SuccessFactors, is co-author of the forthcoming book Stretch.
Bernd Welz, Senior VP of Scale, Enablement, and Transformation, is at SAP.
Elliott Masie is the founder of The MASIE Center.
Q: How does the digital world affect corporate learning today?
Elliott Masie: We’ve seen a tremendous increase in the use and tracking of online learning. Depending on the industry 70% of learning is now driven or regulatory experiences. As much as 90% of that digitally delivered to a mobile phone, a desktop, or via a live Webinar. A blended model, where some content is delivered face to face, will be best for skill building. The irony of not having digital learning is that you have a limited supply and it goes to those who need it most – those who are enthusiastic and proactive. The supply of learning becomes unlimited when you add digital components to it. This is available to all employees.
Karie Willyerd: My daughter wanted to apply for an internship at the Centers for Disease Control. This required statistics knowledge. She went to Khan Academy and completed a few modules. Finally, she passed the test. It’s the idea of getting the training you need instantly. Soft skills like leadership will still require a classroom. However, companies are becoming increasingly virtual. In the future, only a small percentage of training will be done live.
Bernd Welz Digital learning platforms are here to help. Managers can say, “Here is a piece of knowledge you really need.” The learning management platform allows the manager to quickly dispatch the course to the employee and then check later to verify that the learning was completed. Learning is more proactive and real-time.
Q:Digital learning is often made up of short bits of content with a video or social component, rather than long courses that last a few days. Is it dangerous to learn by the hour?
Jim Carroll: There’s always a phrase that I use with Millennials. It’s about video games and how they ingest information or how they play sports. It’s not bad but it’s different. While the older generations tend to keep their values and understand what education is, this generation has grown up in a completely different world. Millennials have a different view of the world and where they can find knowledge.
Willyerd: We need to learn from others. One of the studies I did for my book, The 2020 Workplace, revealed that people don’t like e-learning. We need to find ways to make elearning more social.
Q:How can companies create a learning culture when they transform their learning organization to digital and just in time learning?
Masie:Southwest Airlines recognizes that learning is ongoing. Its goal is not to just teach traditional classes but to launch a learning program that includes touchbacks and follow-ups.
Emirates has also realized that digital is where most learning happens. It has a culture that encourages continuous learning. Managers regularly talk to employees about their learning and bump them to better learning activities.
Carroll:Organizations are realizing that they need to deliver knowledge where it wasn’t required before, and the time they have to do it in is compressed. In the past, organizations planned a year ahead for changes in their industry. Business is moving at such a rapid pace that we need to be ready now for the changes that are coming to our industry in the next three to six months.
Q: Are corporations investing enough in learning transformation?
Willyerd: People will eventually realize that there is a lot to be done to reskill. If you look at the amount of money the United States invests in training as a percentage to overall revenue, I believe we are somewhere around 25th or something ridiculous. How did Korea become such a powerful country? Half of all company training budgets were subsidized by the government. Although I doubt we will go that far, I can see it as a tax deduction or an incentive.
One large hotel chain I know has an online social collaboration area and started using it for innovative ideas. It brought people together