What COVID-19 Means for Learning and Development

As the world tries to navigate the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent closures of schools, businesses, libraries and other cornerstones of daily life, workforces around the globe will be adopting virtual practices to ensure business continuity.

This creates several challenges for employee engagement and professional development as it may test the norms of your learning culture. We recognize those challenges and can offer some perspective following our 20 years’ experience helping large organizations seamlessly transition their learning and development curriculums online.

For us, it starts with the learner, a human, one that in the current state of affairs, is likely struggling to adapt. One of our key organizational values is empathy. With this and a basic compassion for others, moving quickly to a virtual environment does not have to have a negative impact. Rest assured that, amid the fear and anxiety the pandemic has caused, there are opportunities and hope.

Here are some tips to help your learning culture navigate the move into the digital realm:

There are many platforms readily available to help move learners and deploy knowledge online. In particular, Learning Management Systems (LMS) can provide the online infrastructure to manage workforce development. There are over a thousand LMS on the market and we have worked with many of them, including our own Xact LMS. Other training modalities, like classroom and on-the-job training, can also be integrated into the digital workflow quickly with webinar, video-streaming and simulations.

Moving content online is the largest barrier to implementing online training solutions. Even organizations with in-house instructional design (ID) and development teams can struggle to meet the content demands of an increasingly isolated audience. From our experience, talented IDs need to understand more than just basic adult learning principles, they also need to understand how humans consume and digest digital media. To successfully produce digital content with a positive experience, it takes a collaborative team of IDs, writers, creative, multimedia and user experience (UX) experts.

Capturing, retaining and deploying institutional knowledge that primarily resides within the very fabric of your worker’s culture and mind has its challenges. From soft-skilled knowledge, HR and compliance through to highly technical maintenance and operational knowledge, there are many methodologies in capturing knowledge, such as relying on established documentation to repurpose into digital knowledge. There are clear and effective processes for transitioning classroom material to an asynchronous digital platform. You can give your subject matter experts (SMEs) the tools to capture knowledge, including augmented reality or video technology to showcase processes in real time and a platform that can capture and house knowledge artifacts. Further, webinar technology can also mimic the classroom environment. IDs can also empower and enable your SMEs to more rapidly move their knowledge out of their heads and into a sustainable and long-term digital medium.

Digital knowledge comes in many forms and, as the saying goes, the medium is the message. Basic to advance eLearning, microlearning, rapid development with tools like Articulate Rise, video, augmented and virtual reality, and basic documents (such as PPT, PDF and Word) can all be developed, managed and deployed in a measurable and unified platform for your workforce.

Digital Literacy
There is a great deal of fear regarding the barriers that going online will impose, which includes user’s digital literacy and access to technology. But it doesn’t have to be scary. The idea that it’s difficult is based on poorly designed knowledge experiences. Most people have well-tuned habituation on digital literacy (just think of the 2.5 billion active Facebook users). Intuitively designed and frictionless technology are a key pillar in producing a relevant digital knowledge experience (KX).

How do you maintain your organization’s unique culture when moving training to an asynchronous online environment? As another key pillar in KX, it is important to maintain your voice, your brand and specifically your values to build knowledge experiences. Use relevant scenarios to your organization, build interactivity and peer-to-peer support that augments your interactions on site. If culture and values are integral to your organization, they should also be integrated into your digital knowledge.

Fearlessly Going Forward
Most organizations fear digital knowledge solutions, either because they’re not familiar with what they entail or are concerned they won’t be perfect. In our experience, digital knowledge is never perfected, it either continues a sustainable evolution or it’s abandoned entirely. We can ensure that, with Xpan, it’s the former. Just starting the journey is the most important thing. We would be grateful to help, if at the very least to guide the conversation.

Xpan develops digital learning solutions for companies globally. From design to deployment, our team is making heroes of Learning and Development Officers and contributing to the worldwide number of individuals improving their workplace experience (and lives) with better learning.

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