Written by : Lori Figueiredo on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)
Co-create learning that has strategic impact, scalable reach and sustainable deployment
Ongoing waves of next generation technology…
As a learning strategist, I have been an early adopter throughout several waves of “next generation technology”. In various forms, technology has always been and continues to be a very powerful enabler of learning. This happens only when it is used as an integrated part of a learning strategy targeted to achieve pre-defined and measurable positive impact on performance (of the people and organisation).
I found the patterns and the simple rules within this complex world of people, performance and purpose, while working and learning globally with a diverse range of organisations from corporates, NGOs, governments, educational institutions to start-ups.
As technology evolves, some things remain the same…
The range of ways, in which humans react to any new technology, remain the same. How we learn, how our brains work and the psychology of learning, remains the same.
What has truly expanded is that we have more and more diverse, innovative, and impactful ways of how organisations could be enabling learning. In addition, the pace, complexity and volume of what needs to be learned and unlearned has increased.
Yet many organisations are still on the old island taking lecture-based classroom “training” &/or existing course content, which was not impactful in the first place and turning it into AI powered digital courses, virtual classrooms &/or even virtual reality experiences.
Formally support formal and informal learning
Let’s go back to the basics. As a lifelong observer of people, I believe we have a natural capacity to learn, an innate wisdom as well as a need for connection and shared purpose.
Therefore learning works (i.e. has an impact on capabilities, behaviours and results) when we formally support both formal and informal learning. Learning works when we respect our fellow human beings. Learning works when we innovate with integrity leveraging the best in human psychology and the latest in technology. As we digitise, we need to humanise.
Enabling the 3 ways we learn naturally
There are 3 ways we learn naturally. In addition to this being based on research, take a moment to reflect on your own natural habits every day. These include leveraging a combination of:
- Digital Learning = Education via content available 24×7
- Action Learning = Experiences to apply the learning while working
- Social Learning = Exposure to learn from/with others
Organisations can therefore formally support learning as a daily habit by enabling a clear PROCESS which combines the 3 ways we learn.
Life is our classroom
Furthermore, every minute of the day we are presented with learning opportunities. The millions of dollars invested in low-impact, high-cost learning solutions is a crime and defies basic common sense.
It costs very little for any organisation to enable ongoing learning as a daily habit. It costs very little for the teams doing the real work, for example, to use their iphone cameras &/or basic PowerPoint to capture and share their tacit knowledge (Digital Learning).
You do NOT need to do contrived role plays and irrelevant activities in a classroom when it costs very little to consciously apply what has been learned in the workplace (Action Learning).
In conjunction with the above, it costs and takes very little to reflect on and discuss with each other, experts, practitioners, coaches &/or mentors what has been achieved and what can be improved (Social Learning).
Observing and learning with high performing teams and organisations, I found 5Ps are always in place and aligned. When we get the right PEOPLE together and support them to co-create a shared PURPOSE. Thereafter, we put in place clear PROCESSES and the right PLATFORMS (online and offline) using clear guiding PRINCIPLES. This creates a safe space that enables people to learn, adapt and improve as a daily habit.
We found this applies irrespective of whether you are working with and upskilling underprivileged youth in the rural areas, private bankers in the big cities, operators in a factory, leaders in a board room or the frontliners of a popular restaurant brand.
Technology amplifies, aggregates, increases accessibility and more…
What we are highlighting is that high performing organisations and teams create safe spaces to learn, adapt and improve every day. They fail fast and learn faster. Many call these agile teams and draw from the practices part of the agile approach, innovation and human centred design. I draw on these and practices from development and cognitive psychology.
Whatever our source, how we learn and evolve as a human race from prehistoric times to today and in future, there is nothing that is completely new. (Wall art and papyrus scrolls was the ancient form of technology (= makes things easier) and their form of digital learning available 24×7).
What continues to evolve is that technology takes what we do, accelerates and amplifies our efforts in ways that are even more scalable and sustainable. For example, a great speaker can create and instantly broadcast a relevant and meaningful message company-wide to thousands of people in a few minutes using a live video.
Technology allows us to aggregate, integrate and increase accessibility by bringing all the learning resources via an integrated or single front-end platform – from content, people to experiences.
Technology allows us to use AI such as sourcing very widely and then in seconds recommending relevant learning resources based on the Learner’s profile, needs and interests.
Technology is allowing us to distribute, consume, exchange and track learning and its impact on results using web2 such as learning experience platforms and now web3 technology such as the blockchain, NFTs and virtual reality spaces.
Design for impact; Don’t lead with technology
Yet as we leverage technology as an enabler of learning, the entire strategy must be designed for impact. We must not lead with technology. The technology as an enabler comes last in the design process. We can also reverse engineer and then iterate the original design as we learn more about new ways technology can be used.
We must design the end-to-end experience focusing on the human elements, human experience and impact.
Digital learning using learning technology as a standalone, without the human element in the real-life context, will not impact performance. It will not impact a change in our behaviours and results.
In addition to this – why learning technology is deployed and what capabilities it develops must consider human or soft skills. Soft skills have never been more important. Human intelligence combined with artificial intelligence is still the best combination. For this and many other reasons, developing our empathy, resilience, problem solving and communication skill sets and mindset, as examples, remain as critical future skills as the hard technical skills of any role.
If we innovate with integrity leveraging the best in human psychology and the latest in technology – as we digitise in business, society and learning, we will remain human-centred.
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