According to research by Deloitte, the average employee only has time to devote 1 percent of their work week to professional development.
That means that only 24 minutes a week or 4.8 minutes a day is allocated to training in a normal 40- hour work week.
As the modern learner has less time dedicated to learning, we need to adapt the way training is delivered. We have become more mobile as we are equipped with one or more mobile devices that allows us to stay connected to a range of information and communication services. The ability to move around while remaining connected is the core of mobile learning. It empowers learning outside of fixed places like the classrooms and labs and makes information available for learning anytime it is needed. Organisations and their training departments need to adapt to the way people view learning and a fundamental shift that the learner, rather than the instructor, is now in control.
We are living in a fast-changing technological landscape. A study has found that 70 percent of CEOs say that their organisation does not have the skills to adapt to a digitalized work environment. Skills are becoming obsolete at a rapid rate. For instance, there are thousands of IT professionals in the workforce but their jobs are being threatened. The new jobs created demand skills that these professionals do not possess. Lifelong learning has become the mandate and employees need access to relevant and updated information as they come. Traditional “sit and learn” programmes may be able to deliver knowledge to the masses, but they are frankly, quickly forgotten. Also, it does not cater to the specific needs of individuals. Just as how we expect online shopping to be a personal experience, eg, the recommendations we receive based on the products we have purchased previously, we have come to expect personalisation in learning as well. There is nothing we dislike more than being forced to learn content that is not relevant to our work.
Adopting the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence via chatbots in some training programmes means that employees learn what they want and what they need at their convenience. For instance, a systems engineer may be able to diagnose possible faults in an aircraft by entering related search words through a company chatbot app. The chatbot may offer suggestions and walk him through the steps to solve the issue on the spot. This saves time and eliminates the need to contact others for help. This employee is learning and simultaneously reinforcing his previous knowledge by applying his skills to a real-life situation. In a digital setting, employees is able to absorb chunks of information that are meaningful and directly related to their field of work.
One of the benefits of using technology to aid learning is that it is more flexible than the traditional classroom approach. Learners can choose specific courses that help them meet work goals and allows them to complete the modules at their own pace. Bite-sized learning, which is about consuming nuggets of information, meet the needs of modern learners. It allow learners to digest information quickly, multi-task between meetings and work and more importantly, is customised to their point of need. Online learning platforms also offers suggestions to employees about topics of potential interest or reveal topics that their colleagues have attempted. Tracking of employees performance or learning is also possible with digital learning schemes in place. There are built-in analytics and data reports that allows managers to understand areas of weaknesses and knowledge gaps of their employees. Did your employees complete the training? Where did they struggle the most? How did they engage with the training materials? These insights will provide clear direction to refine and improve on future training for employees.
In addition, digital learning also allows for training to be conducted via multiple devices and formats. E-courses could be accessed via a desktop computer or a smartphone and different formats such as videos, podcasts and games etc. We all learn differently. Everyone of us has a different learning style. Some of us are visual learners, others are kinesthetic learners. While graphs, charts and visuals are helpful for visual learners, kinesthetic learners prefer movements and doing experiments to understand new concepts. Technology help to create and present content in a variety of formats so that there is something for every learner. How many of us have gotten bored or lost track of what is happening while sitting in a lecture style workshop? Statistics show that 1 out of 3 employees say that uninspiring content is a barrier to their learning. Ineffective training costs money and it is a staggering $13.5 million a year per 1000 employees. Rather than let corporate training go to waste, digital learning can generate better investments on returns which lead to better productivity and performance.
With digital learning, the focus is not simply on what is to be learned. Consideration must be given to factors such as how to provide easy access to information, how to present information in a way that matches the context of a situation in which learning is required. Companies need to move away from the idea of telling people what they need to know to helping them learn what they want to know. Digital learning represents opportunities for learning and performance enhancement that previously did not exist. Companies need to incorporate digital learning into their training and development needs to help employees stay relevant and meet business needs while being disrupted by evolving technologies.
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