If you’re supporting workers in the workflow with context-specific resources, based on what your organisation’s internal ‘experts’ know and do, then classroom events take on a very different role to before. But what role should classrooms play in digitally-led L&D? Let’s start by looking at what people do best – and what they don’t…
What do you remember from a course you went on as a delegate more than a few months ago? Spend a moment to recall specifics.
If, like me, you remember broad themes, the general essence of conversations and a nugget or two of actionable detail, then you’re normal. We’re not really able to remember all of it… Or much of it at all.
But this isn’t down to an Attention Deficit Disorder or by being overwhelmed by 21st century information, it’s got more to do with your biology. Our biology. But before we go giving evolution both barrels for making us so rubbish, let’s point the finger at the other party in this… Corporate Learning.
Back in the day, it was deemed the most appropriate way of training workers to bring them together for a defined amount of time to ply them full of knowledge. Exercises were then used to embed that knowledge in the hope that it would be transferred back to the workplace – and then applied.
Then Google and YouTube changed the game. We don’t need to ‘learn’ nearly as much now, because we know where to find what we’re looking for and ‘access’ has became more important than ‘owning’ knowledge and know-how. Look at this example of a mother of four with no construction experience who built her dream home using YouTube tutorials.
But this isn’t driven solely by the individual. It’s driven by the sheer amount of information available to us, which far exceeds the amount that was available prior to the internet and constant connectivity when we relied on the sage on the stage for bringing it to us in our periodical visit to the classroom.
So, retaining and recalling ‘stuff’ on-demand is not what we’re best at but there is still huge value in bringing people together… Isn’t there?
I’ve run hundreds of training sessions and, in most of them, I asked the delegates at the end what they found most useful (I’m sure you have to). And the response I got from delegates, more often than not, was:
“Meeting other people from across the business and learning from each other’s experiences.”
Now there’s a clue as to what we might do with face-to-face.
When we really consider what people do best, isn’t it: Discussion, debate, challenge, questioning, problem solve; and having-a-go (practice or simulation)?
There is so much room for this great stuff, if workers are supported in their day-to-day to overcome their challenges and ‘do’ their jobs better with resources.
Examples of how this works are:
- If New starters are equipped with valuable information before they join your company – with resources. And from Day One, they have resources that guide and influence the way they learn about every major facet of the company and the job, then bring them together to meet their colleagues, to make useful connections, and to feel great about the company. Not to fill their heads up (often with overviews of systems!) at a time when remembering all their colleagues’ names seems hard enough.
- New Managers are rarely supported with formal development when they are promoted so they would benefit hugely from resources that answer their questions; guide them in new and tricky situations; share lessons from more experienced managers; and provide tips for operating and influencing diverse stakeholders. Opportunities then to explore their actual challenges; unlock what they don’t know they don’t know; and learn from each other could provide great insight to continue to grow. In terms of administration, these events will take very little time to prepare and rely on more ad-hoc facilitation, rather than content design and delivery, so could be fairly frequent, too. In addition, having experienced managers run sessions in which they talk about their own philosophies and growth could be further inspiration.
- Contentiously, soft-skills can be developed on-demand by providing tools and insights – within resources – that are designed in response to real-work challenges. An example of this could be Presentation Skills. If you consider the questions that workers have just before they realise the answer is a ‘Presentation Skills course’, then you can better equip them in the moments they most need the help. These might be:
- How do I write this presentation?
- What format should my slides be in?
- How do I deal with nerves?
How do I overcome objections?
How should I prepare for questions?
What if I mess up?
- Each of these questions could be answered in a series of resources and the face-to-face element could be just the opportunity to present the actual presentation in front of an audience of colleagues (who also want feedback), in order to improve the presentation and their delivery. So, the emphasis is on delivering better work and better results, rather than better learning.
With ‘resources-first’, the classroom experience can be less about delivering content with the hope of it being retained and transferred to the workplace and becomes a platform for doing the things that the participants themselves value most. In my experience, this is the opportunity to take time away from the daily grind and connect with colleagues from across the organisation and learn from their experiences in relation to the challenges they face.
‘Resources-first’ will not replace all ‘training’ but it will provide support, insights, confidence and greater competence to do the job today and build capability for tomorrow.
And, in my experience, that’s what the organisation really needs as outputs from it’s Learning & Development department.
To learn more about how ‘resources-first’ is working for L&D teams elsewhere and how it could be working for you and your organisation, drop me a note: by email, Twitter, LinkedIn or by posting a comment below.
David James is Chief Learning Strategist with Looop and a seasoned Talent Management, Learning & OD leader with nearly 20 years of experience in the field. Until recently, David was Director of Talent, Learning & OD for The Walt Disney Company’s EMEA region.
Looop help their clients all over the world to digitally transform their L&D and capitalise on how people really want to learn today with a platform that is renowned for its extraordinary levels of learner engagement.