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Learning vs. training: it’s all about people

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, I—like many people—have spent a lot of time thinking about what’s important.

One thing I’ve found myself continually reflecting on—both personally and professionally—is how much our interactions with others matter.

This has undoubtedly influenced my team’s approach to course development. Each learning event is ultimately an interaction with another person; how can we make it count?

It’s working through these types of questions that ultimately separates learning from training. While these distinctions can—and should—certainly be made at your compliance program level, I’m going to focus on how you can move from training to learning from a content development standpoint.

Here are three tips:

1) Make it about the learner

This is a key thing that distinguishes learning from training, and it’s evident in the very words themselves. When it comes to learning, the focus is on the learner or the end user. With training, the focus is on the trainer or the person doing the teaching. An effective course should always focus on the learner, not the trainer. Making your courses learner-centric is what causes them to resonate.

Every aspect of the courses my team puts out are developed with the learner in mind. This means asking questions like: “Is this word too challenging?” “Will people relate to that image?” “Is this scenario realistic?” “Are we respecting the learner’s time and only giving them the information they need to know and act on?”

2) Focus on action

Learner-centric courses focus on what learners should and shouldn’t do. Our emphasis on action is apparent from a learner’s very first interaction with our courses—the title. We favor actionable titles, like Navigating Conflicts of Interest or Preventing Workplace Harassment, over topical ones, like Conflicts of Interest or Workplace Harassment, because our courses don’t teach compliance topics … we teach people.

In that same vein, our courses don’t focus on the names of laws or legal standards; they focus on behavior, decision-making, and what employees must do on a day-to-day basis to comply with those laws and their organization’s policies. This results in actionable learning objectives and resonant learning that helps drive behavioral change.

3) Personalize learning experiences

A one-size-fits-all training can’t be learner-centric. While our platform inherently meets each learner where they’re at—tailoring the content based on how each learner is performing in the course—as content developers, we’re always looking for more ways to personalize each learner’s journey. This can include using self-identifying questions and branching technology to provide certain learners with specific content based on things like their role, jurisdiction, or job function. It can also involve employing self-directed learning techniques, such as allowing learners to choose the order in which they want to move through the course’s various topic areas or allowing learners to select an avatar that represents them throughout the course. It also includes collecting behavioral insights on learner performance, which can be used by organizations in subsequent years to reinforce specific topics (targeting specific populations if needed), program plan, and even modify or reduce training cadence.

From training to learning

When it comes to moving from training to learning, remember that keeping the learner in mind is key. And while I hope this year allows us to connect more with other people, at the very least, I know we can do this through our courses.

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