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What worked Testing digital learning during lockdown header

Testing digital learning during lockdown

The pandemic rapidly accelerated the move to digital learning to meet urgent training needs.  So how did digital learning hold up and what lessons as CLOs or L&D practitioners can we learn for its future development? In our last instalment of our “Learning Lessons from Lockdown” blog series, we discuss what has worked and how we have managed to test digital learning throughout lockdown.

What’s changed?

In February 2021 at the height of the pandemic, the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and Accenture conducted a survey of 1,200 UK employers.  It found that 70 per cent of businesses had increased their use of digital or online programs in a year.  Organizations also reported that their learning strategy had necessarily become more aligned with their business priorities.  Despite cuts to learning budgets and L&D headcount, there was greater recognition of the role of digital learning and a willingness to use technology to promote a greater engagement with learning.  

The CIPD concludes that the pandemic has most likely changed the face of learning for good.  But if we’re to accept that conclusion and move forward, we need to know what worked best during the crisis and build on that base.

10 things that worked for digital learning

  • Technical infrastructure: When we talk of digital learning it’s easy to forget the infrastructure that supports it.  The pandemic was a huge stress test of ICT and it generally delivered.  Organizations should now take the time to assess any weaknesses in their own provision of hardware and software as demand for virtual working and learning grows.
  • Mobile connectivity: Ensuring that learning was available on mobile devices was one of the great successes.  It allows for the delivery of critical information just in time and wherever it was needed.  Mobile connectivity puts learning right in the workflow.
  • Digitized content: The need to adopt virtual learning resulted in the digitization of information.  This increases its access and leads to the standardization of processes and procedures.  It also makes updating and sharing information quicker and easier.
  • Virtual training sessions: As in-person, classroom-based training was no longer an option, the class went online.  Webinar sessions can replicate much of the classroom, instructor-led experience and the use of break-out room facilitates small group learning.  When people are physically distant the virtual classroom brings them together in a shared learning experience.
  • Personalization: Remote working from home brought the needs of individuals into sharper focus.  To address those needs learning had to be more personalized and targeted.  Instead of expecting mass participation in large courses, organizations can break up learning and deliver it as and when needed based on individual circumstances.  
  • Apps: Keeping people engaged while working in isolation is a huge challenge.  But by making learning virtual you extend the arena for the sharing of ideas and more collaborative learning.  Project management apps like Slack offer the opportunity to participate fully in team projects and encourage the exchange of information and drive engagement.  And lockdown showed us what Zoom, MS Teams, and Google Meet can do to keep people connected.
  • User-generated content: The pandemic increased the need for content creation.  Organizations are moving more towards developing their content to meet their business and learning needs and address skills gaps.  Some of this may be ad hoc and informal with experienced and senior employees taking the responsibility to share their knowledge by creating their digital learning content.
  • LMSs: The advantages of employing a learning management system became clearer as virtual learning became the number one training objective.  An LMS allows you to store and curate all the digital assets you’re creating.  Also, in times when L&D is under pressure, LMSs can be used to automate tasks, like enrolment and notifications.  The system’s analytics functions allow you to monitor performance better and identify and deliver the support people require.
  • Promoting employee resilience and engagement: Digital learning allows people the flexibility to learn at their own pace and in their own time.  That flexibility helps people keep learning as they adapt to their newly displaced working environment and rebalance their working lives.  The social media features of digital learning keep people engaged by mirroring the way people get their general information via the web and social media.
  • Maintaining skills levels: The adaptability of digital learning helps support skills levels.  During the pandemic, many new hires were onboarded virtually.  Yet others found their jobs had changed and required up-skilling.  Others switched roles and needed reskilling.  Personalization, collaboration, connectivity, and the flexibility of digital learning sustain skill levels and help counter disengagement and dips in performance. 

These are some key benefits that digital learning delivered during lockdown.  There’s no going back: we need to consolidate our digital learning base so we can build on it and prepare for the digital future.

To find out more on how you can help your organization move forward to the post-pandemic era and engage remote workers, get in touch now.

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