What Makes Effective Learning Frameworks for a Business

Case Study

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We discuss what makes an effective learning framework in 2020, and how digital and technology can help to keep people engaged and enthused about learning.

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Transcript coming soon.


Scott: So today we're going to be chatting about what makes an effective learning framework for businesses. This is obviously a topic close to your heart Oli? Obviously with your background in learning.

Oli: Yes absolutely. Before we start, I just want to make it clear to everybody that this isn't going to go into exactly what framework, or learning framework, you should be using yourself. It is just going to be going around the core principles of an effective learning framework. If you have ever considered creating one yourself, or if you ever go into a business where they ask you to come up with an idea for an effective learning framework.

Scott: Yeah that makes sense.

Oli: Yeah, so I just want to talk around what we're going to be talking about today. So it's going to be around the core principles that make a good framework, the core learning principles, and then we're going to be talking about when it's time to use digital resource, how new technologies in business culture affect the learning framework, and finally what I find most important is evaluations, and how it's so important to adapt an evolved a learning strategy using evaluations.

Scott: Great that sounds awesome, let's dive into it! So you've prepared a couple of points we can run through. So the first one you've got down is understanding the core principles.

Oli: I think that it is really important anytime you approach a learning strategy, to understand the core principles or understand core principles in general of how learning works. First I would say is learn the business strategy. Any business you go into you should really learn the business strategy first, I think it's key. As soon as you go into that business, whether you're going as a contractor, or you go as a permanent employee, or you go in as a digital agency, or you're going it's just an agency a learning agency. I think it's the first thing you need to do is learn the business strategy, because you're always going to align your core learning goals alongside of that. So that would be my first key point.

To me there are five key principles that I find that every single company or business do you use. So they are activities linked to real world scenarios and projects, so that's not just making any learning inc that's engaging for anybody thats kind of bog standard. Scott i'm sure you've seen it plenty of times when you've done that e-learning and it's just around a random scenario that no one can really relate to?

Scott: Yeah, you gotta make it specific I guess.

Oli: Exactly. It's really more about focusing on real life scenarios that people have actually experienced, and real life projects that people have experienced as well. I think that's a core key principle from whenever you start making a learning framework. Learner's ownership of learning activities. That's basically the learners taking a bit of responsibility over their own learning, and understanding their own learning activities, what ticks for them. Activities shaped by learning abilities, well-being and interesting experiences.

Now that's a bit like the previous point, but instead it's more around what activities they go to find to actually learn, like understanding their learning and what best suits their needs. We are going to go inside a bit more detail with like learning needs analysis and stuff like that. However with this with this core principle, it's the activities around that. So it's if you're a fireman you're not going to go and do a project management course, you are going to go and do something that's a bit more around your experience, a bit more around your interest. So it's finding what's specific to you, and understanding that also I say well-being in that because a lot of companies focus on that, on your mental state, and how you feel around certain types of learning. It's not engaging if you find certain types of learning boring, or it gets you a bit down sat in front of a chair. Some people learn in different ways, some people want to be more active around it, so well-being in that sense. So learners are asked to consider other solutions and context, testing their own projects and adapting accordingly.

This is more around, a bit like the key the previous point, it has the key principle of learners taking ownership, but instead looking at their own work, looking at their previous work and their projects, and having a look at other solutions. How things worked, did they work previously, how they could have worked better and then learning from that. Learning how you would do things better. Looking outside the box. Maybe next time there's a different way of doing things. Then reflection and develop their own process of learning. Again it's a bit like the previous point, but it's a bit different in terms of reflecting on what you've done, and developing your own process and developing you as a person. I think that's how most people learn in life really.

Scott: Yeah absolutely. So those sound like some pretty understandable principles I guess. All right, so one thing you mentioned there Oli was that learners need to take ownership of their ability to soak up the material that you're putting out there. How easy is it to influence that as someone who's designing the framework. Because, I mean that's one of the things I think that's often first thought of when you think of a learning framework. It's these often quite dry experiences going out and quite often not really seen as too important by the people that are supposed to be learning the most from them. How would you be able to influence some of that, as the person that's designing the program?

Oli: Okay, so a key point I think that we can take away from this, especially as learning design is, if you want to be a learner designer, is you're more of a marketing designer nowadays with learning. Your key approach when you're creating a learning framework is just as much marketing your learning as it is about creating an effective learning.

So to answer that question Scott, to get people engaged, it's all about marketing different types of learning. Putting down different social media channels within the business. Most businesses are using their own type of social media channels and their own type of communication channels, so it's continuously promoting that learning in different ways. It's not just creating that one piece of learning. We'll go into this bit more detail, it's creating multiple pieces of learning and kind of pulling the learner in more than pushing the work onto the learner. You might have experienced it quite a lot before Scott, in terms of with an LMS for instance. We'll again go into this in more detail later.

So you're sat there you'll get an email in your inbox saying you need to do your health and safety learning. You can't be bothered with it honestly, let's be honest with you. Even me, I'll even say it when I see that email at work or I've seen that email and I just think "oh another piece of e-learning". To be honest with you, that exactly what learning designers don't want. So as learning designers now, we see ourselves more as marketing managers, and more of marketing executives as well as learning designers, because we have to sell the idea. So it's more again about pulling these people in, more than pushing it on. To pull people in you have to create different types of content. I said this in one of the key principles as well, about creating activities linked to real world scenarios and projects.

Again i'll go into this more detail later on, but that's also based around creating content for different types of people. So different types of people will be drawn to different things. Some people will be comfortable doing E-learning, some people will be more comfortable doing video. So it's creating that content and pulling them into different channels, and making it as available as possible.

Scott: Gotcha cool. Yeah, so what you're seeing is a long side having good content, I really like what you said about selling the idea, you know kind of making it as easy as possible for people to pick up. So the second point you've got then is know when it's time to use digital.

Oli: Right so with this one I think people hear learning, and straight away they think digital. It's not always the best solution.

Scott: When you say digital, you're talking about people learning through digital channels?

Oli: It is yes, but it's not as I mentioned before, it's marketing digital as well. So it's not just the learning digital side of things, it's using digital in with the marketing side of things as well.

Scott: Yeah okay.

Oli: So i'm going to talk about digital in whole through a learning process, and when to use it. For instance, a learning framework and to make an effective learning framework. So digital is a good aid throughout the delivery of learning, and can support all formats of learning. It should and always will be an essential aid of any framework. I think that if you see any framework within any business, you're going to see some sort of mention of digital at some point. It's very very unlikely that you'll go into any business nowadays, and they aren't using digital. In fact I can probably guarantee that they are definitely using digital.

So when is it a good time to use it? I mean we talk about that because when you're creating bespoke content for instance for a wider audience, that's probably the good time to use things like e-learning.

Scott: So a broad audience there, so someone that you just need to kind of need to fire out content to the whole team.

Oli: Exactly, exactly. It's not always the most effective way of using it. However it is an easy option sometimes, and an easy way to get that content out to everybody. You will usually find it with more regular three types of learning, and that will be part, in any type of learning framework you're going to need e-learning to deliver to a wide audience. Now we know more recently when e-learning first came out, it was the big thing everybody used it. It was an interactive digital piece of content. But it's not always effective. E-learning isn't always the answer. Now Scott, I ask you this question right now, have you ever skipped through your e-learning and not actually done it. Have you just look for that next button?

Scott: Oh for sure.

Oli: Yeah exactly. I think that is a key point in any type of learning situation, is that e-learning isn't always the answer. Just by me asking you that question you saying that, we know that for a fact. So it's not always perfect to use digital. Sometimes you have to look at a solution, and as learning designers now we have to think "okay well e-learning isn't always working in that space, so what are we going to use instead". Now we have a range of digital channels we can use there's a range of digital software that we can use, animation tools, online web apps. So I mean just to engage in the learning, and getting to learn and engage in learning, we don't always need to use e-learning.

Scott: Where do you think things like classroom based learning still fits into the picture nowadays?

Oli: So with classroom based learning it's a bit more in-depth, and it's with someone who needs a bit more back and forth with with a trainer or a learner. You won't get that with e-learning. You won't get that with digital learning. So even if you use different digital channels like interactive pdfs for instance, or e-learning, or you create a website with a few random pop-ups and things like that, it's still never going to be that one-to-one where you can ask any question, you can fire off each other, off other people. So that's where classroom learning comes in. It is an important thing, and again we'll go into this a bit more detail. It comes under the 70 20 10 kind of learning framework, which I'll explain a bit more later. It's a bit more important when you need to learn a bit more in depth about something. You need to find a few answers off somebody.

I think that is where also classroom training comes in, because also with classroom training, it can give you that specific time to focus on learning. Digital isn't always needed in that kind of situation.  However you'll probably find, and this is a key thing I want to also bring up is that you will find that, digital is probably used in classroom learning as well in one way or another. Even if it's not as you would think, in terms of creating e-learning or showing an e-learning thing, or showing interactive pdf. You will maybe have some digital flash cards up there. Most people in classroom training now will have laptops or some kind of computer, where they'll need to do a scenario based thing, depending on what the trainer is teaching that day. So there will be digital there as well.

My point really with digital is that it's always good as an aid, but it's not always good as a prime function of every type of learning.

Scott: I guess with e-learning it probably fits or people think it fits, within and around people's time in the office and around their current work schedules. I guess as you say, the focus is really the one thing that probably suffers. In a classroom at least you are in a different place, forced to do this thing for a certain period of time, rather than rush it in, or just get in and around your other work when you might not be giving it the full attention it needs.

Oli: Yeah. Classroom learning is really like said and like I said before, it's really for that more direct focus. E-learning is more that learn-on-the-go digital learning, that you can do whenever in your own time. So with digital it does expand that opportunity to learn on the go. You can learn anywhere with digital, where as classroom based it's very specific it has to be done on a day. You could be ill that day, so then it becomes a problem. Then you need to find a way to complete that learning, and then a trainer has to find a day where they do a one-on-one session with you. So it's not always the easiest way to do it.

Again this is where digital can also come in, because communication technologies if you and a trainer are based in different locations, and that trainer has come down for that one day but you weren't available, now you can do it over for instance teams or zoom as we're doing it. So  there's those different things you can do, but we'll talk a bit more about that later.

Scott: Sure yeah, cool. The next point you've got then is about learning needs.

Oli: Yeah learning needs is more around as it says says in the title, the needs of the learner. What do they need, and how they need it. This is where I spoke earlier about 70/20/10, Scott. I just want to elaborate on what 70/20/10 is. So 70/20/10  is 70 percent of learning on the job, so 70 percent of experience learning. So for instance Scott you're primarily a developer, it would be you sitting with another developer who has a skills in certain type of developing for instance, or has a new way of developing when you was using a new piece of software and you want to learn that way. So he's  showing you how to do it over a period of two days, and then you track it that way. So that's really the seventy percent of where you would be as a learner. The twenty percent is again we mentioned it before, is the classroom based learning. It's having that one-on-one time with the trainer. It's training with the learner. Then the 10 percent is your digital learning. So it's your e-learning, it's your interactive pdfs, it's your posters, it's your word documents. It will be mostly in digital formats. I mean very very rarely you'll get a book nowadays to learn from that. It's also your tests and things like that. This is where the framework is really coming around. This is what most learning companies and most businesses are trying to follow.

This kind of process of the 70/20/10, this is kind of this framework. It works well for most businesses. I think that if you ask anybody, they would agree that they learn over doing things through experience. I mean it's an old saying isn't it. You would take someone who has the experience over someone who's fresh out of uni because they know something straight away, or someone who's fresh out of school who's learned everything about it but they've never done the job. So it's of course the way that everybody wants to follow. It's learning on the job. There's different ways of tracking that. Again this is where going back to my point before "when is it time to use digital" this is a perfect time to use digital. Not in a way that you think in terms of e-learning or in terms of interactive pdfs, but in terms of tracking that learning. Tracking how to use that, through things like an LMS or through like a different digital hub or platform.

Scott: I was going to ask basically as a learning team obviously 70 percent of learning coming from on the job, how do you go about structuring that as a team or tracking it as you say?

Oli: Yeah absolutely. That is again through different learning hubs and the LMS. I mean for me, i've always used an LMS and had the managers track that.

Scott: Right okay. So appraisals and that sort of thing?

Oli: Exactly so again when we spoke about this before about marketing that idea, it's more about sending communications out to managers and making sure that they are tracking that learning with their direct reports. Making sure that they do that. So having an LMS for instance will allow them to do that, in sending comms to continuously remind them to track that. Because otherwise there's no evidence that these people are learning, and they are doing this they're 70 percent. Again it gives the learner a bit more responsibility, and it's going back to one of those core responsibilities that we spoke about earlier.

Scott: Yeah that makes a lot of sense. Well so you said that the 70 20 10 makes sense for most businesses, or at least as a starting point, is it easy to see whether that's not working and where you might need to adapt it for your business itself?

Oli: Absolutely, it can be easy. I think it's very easy to look at that 10 and think that thats your core learning. I know a lot of businesses who will start sort of a learning framework, and think immediately it's all based around that ten. I've known and worked a lot of people who have come in and said right we need to throw out an interactive pdf, and then we need to throw out a piece of e-learning ,followed up by a couple of these word documents, then we need to do a test and then you know we'll do an evaluation after that. And you're thinking well that's 10 10 10 10 10 10. Where is the 70 in that? Where's the classroom learning on the 20? So instead of actually looking at that 70 and that 20, it's more that actually comes more around the 10. A lot of people surround themselves around the 10. If you really want to do 10 percent of that learning coming from through that channel as digital e-learning and digital through different digital channels. That's the problem that we're finding with looking at that, is the learning engaging. It is not most of the time, because it's only focusing around that 10. People switch off.

The effective solution is not always using learning through different digital channels and using just digital and e-learning and pdfs and workbooks. People switch off, it's not engaging. I find more people focus on the 10 than they do on the 70 and 20. Classroom learning is seem as boring, so not a lot of people use it, but it is a very important part of learning. People don't ever really look at the 70 too much people don't ever really look at the 70 and think learning by doing, and learning on the job, having that accountable freedom. People don't even really look at that as learning itself. It really is an important part of learning, because that's how everybody learns really. Let's think of learning outside of a business for instance, I will use it as an example for me today, I did my gardening. I was putting in fence posts, I have never done that before. It's a learning experience and I did it learning by doing and that's part of the 70. Would I have looked at that as learning? No, but if you actually look at it, it is.

Scott: Yeah absolutely. Yeah super important part of it for sure. I guess I mean I am probably jumping ahead here looking at your other points that you've got down, so forgive me for that, but i'm guessing that one of the most obvious ways to track whether the 70 20 10 breakdown that you've applied is working would be just to speak to the learners. Is that fair to say?

Oli: 100 percent. Again, we will talk about this later, and I think it's a really important part of the learning framework. I will go into a bit more later, but effectively we're talking about is evaluating and talking to the learners about what their learning experiences are. For me, I think it is actually if not one of the most important parts, the most important part of learning. But we will talk about that a bit later, but yes absolutely it's very very important.

Scott: Okay cool.

Oli: I think another really important point of learning needs, or knowing what a learner's needs are, is allowing the learners to find what best suits their needs. With learning, you'll always find that what's good for one person isn't good for another. If you look back at when you went to school something like that, when you went to a class, was there always something that wasn't engaging for you but you found other people are engaged in. That's the same with everybody. I think that this is a key point in businesses, is to give the opportunity for every learner to have every opportunity for instance, to learn in whatever way they want.

Trying again, we're using digital is to try and push out as much of that different content as possible with using that 70 percent for instance, within the 70 20 10. Allow the learner to go and learn in any way possible, in terms of their experience. Allow the learner to go on a classroom if they want to. It's given the learner options but it's giving the learner the accountable freedom to go and find their way of learning, and for their managers to use an LMS or a digital channel to mark that down for it to be tracked. It's always important for the learner to find what's best for them and what best suits their needs. Also I think that follows on nicely with engaging with learners, and what makes them tick. I mean for me as a learner personally, I like to look at video. I don't like doing e-learning. I have designed plenty of e-learning. I find a lot of it boring and interactivity isn't the same. It doesn't have the same kicks that I found video, but I find video does. So I like to primarily work within video. However I do know a lot of people who like e-learning. I know a lot of people who like to use gamification in e-learning and they get something out of it. I know a lot of people like to learn on the job. I am also a big big fan of learning on the job, i'm a big fan of that 70 percent. For me, I would stay away from classroom learning because it doesn't entice me at all.

So again it's just finding what makes them tick and what engages them. I think it's all about that keyword. Engaging. The learner needs to be engaged. I think that's a key part in any learning framework, is to have that option for the learner to be engaged.

Scott: Yeah, I think it sounds pretty daunting I guess for a learning thing to have to create content in almost every consumable format. Am I right in saying that over time, assuming that there isn't too much turnover in the team, that as the learning provider you probably end up figuring out the formats that work best for most people?

Oli: Absolutely. There will always be the standard learning that is most engaging. You'll find that most people react to a certain kind of thing. So with experience again, as a learning designer with experience, you learn that using certain types of digital, and using certain different types of solutions in with different learning, works. It's most effective. So you know when to use that 70. You know and say okay well we'll leave you to do that, and then you also know when it's time to have to push that learning onto the learner, because you know there's no other way of doing it. No one wants to do health and safety learning, so that's when for instance you would push that e-learning out, because it's just the best way of doing it. You'll find there's a lot of bespoke content out there that's just exactly the same.

Scott: Okay. So the next topic you wanted to cover was aligning principles with the business culture.

Oli: Yeah and I think this is actually really important. It does only really apply if you're creating a framework and you're not adopting one. You'll find that most frameworks, if you can join a business have been built around the culture, or at least alongside the culture. If you're building one from scratch learn the business culture, learn what makes them tick.

I know for instance with Microsoft, they had a culture before of just get things done, don't ask questions, and then their new leader came in and he actually took learning as one of their core principles, and was just like we're going to create this learning culture for instance, you know accountable freedom but if someone does something wrong or if someone does it doesn't do something right where did it go wrong and he learns from that. Then let's build let's not have the trouble. People started speaking up then. So again if we go back before they took that 70 percent they really put it in there into their learning. This is where you would build a good learning framework around that. so straight away you know you now know that when you're building a learning framework and if you go into a company like Microsoft who want to have that learning on the job, asking people as many different questions as possible, you want to work around that for instance at 70 percent. So you want to build your learning framework around that. It's just ensuring that that framework supports those business principles.

Scott: So you're saying it's not just building the business principles into the learning framework, but actually there's also scope to push learning into the business principles as well on the business culture.

Oli: Absolutely. 100 percent. It's very very important and it needs to be embedded within the business DNA if you will.

Scott: Yeah, and it strikes me actually that this is probably one of the reasons that training or learning can often be ineffective i guess. If you're walking into a company as as a new learning designer for example, and you can see that the engagement's low, or the training that's been given just isn't being soaked up well enough, maybe this is one of the key places that can be the reason why?

Oli: Like I said with Microsoft for instance, and I know I keep going back to this because I really i'm really fascinated with their turnaround, because they really didn't have a learning culture before and then they all of a sudden brought this in as one of their core principles within their business. The core principles within their culture, is to have this learning culture. Straight away just turned everything around for them. People were so much happy and their well-being even came up, because they have that accountable freedom to learn stuff. So straight away they started developing in a different way. Work became more productive. It's just all because you know they change their culture so as a learning designer coming into a business like that absolutely you are going to want to start designing around that area. Designing how as a learning designer, you'll be more of a digital designer. So obviously you will create digital content that will aid these people, in terms of maybe, creating a learning hub and a learning experience platform with different types of content for these people to go to. Maybe creating a social media platform for instance, for these people to talk to each other and share their ideas and share their knowledge. So it's really important to align your principles with the business culture when you're creating that kind of framework.

Scott: Yeah okay that's really interesting. I think a lot of what you've been talking about ties in quite nicely with the agile ways of working, that a lot of companies move into anyway. I wonder whether having learning embedded into the core business itself might hopefully start just getting more and more common.

Oli: Absolutely, absolutely. I think it will.

Scott: All right, so the number five in your list then is how new software and technologies impact learning frameworks.

Oli: Absolutely and this is really important as a learning designer. I think if you're going in as a learning designer or someone who's going to be creating any sort of learning framework, be prepared to change your learning framework continuously. Because as you know Scott, as I very well know, digital is continuously evolving. There's new technologies, new software that's continuously coming out. With that, it gives you endless possibilities to do things in different ways. By doing things in different ways, it also gives you that different way of engaging with learners. So you're obviously going to look at that and see how you can take that on board. Let's look for example at LXP's, learning hubs, social media platforms.

Scott: What are LXP's?

Oli: So LXP's are learning experience platforms. Learning experience platforms are more for the learner to go on and key word in that is experience or learning experience is to  find their own way through learning. So it's not just about going on to, if you have a learning management system for instance, you will go on there will be learning popped into your into your inbox, or into your hub, or your own section, or your homepage. That's the learning for you to do. Learning experience platforms are more based around communicating with other people, finding that learning that's good for you and actually giving you more control of your own learning.

They are becoming more and more popular than the standard learning management systems. They are implemented in many different companies alongside of learning management systems. It is just there again to give the learner a bit more control. It is there to support that 70, and also support that 20 in some cases as well. Learning hubs are built more internally, and they usually combine that LXP and that LMS experience. There will be the face of learning for them for the company itself, whereas the LXP's and the LMS are usually built by external companies that are brought in. Then you'll have social media platforms, things like youtube, but a lot of the time people companies or small businesses will create their own. So you'll have your own kind of youtube so a video on demand service, or you'll have your own documents hub or something like that. People build those social media platforms. You will have your own kind of twitter, your own kind of facebook, that sort of thing. That's where people can go in and share their ideas.

So with that straight away that gives the learners, I mean 10 years ago that none of that existed really, so the learner didn't have that option to go in and have that 70 as much as they could have done. I keep going back to that 70 to 20 10 because I think it's really key and really important for learners. It's what most businesses like I said before, operate around.

So again having that option to communicate with other people within the business is vital I think for learning. It just gives that other option for learners to become more engaged with their learning. We spoke about LMS's already. It's standard, but now LMS's have more functions and more features. It's not just about going onto your LMS and having something in your inbox. Now LMS is using using AI. AI is a new big thing within technology. It's there to read and assess you as a person, what makes you tick. It will give you options. It can give you little nudges as to what learning you should be looking at, and what you should be seeing. It can also tell you if you've been learning more effectively this day, and how much down time you can have for learning and things like that. AI is very very complex within other LMS's and it can really help that kind of learning experience, make it easy for the learner. A lot of the time i'm talking about all this technology being available, but a lot of people aren't tech savvy. You have these LXP's, you have these learning hubs, you have these social media platforms, and a lot of people get scared. You have all of these different digital platforms, you've got all these different digital outlets and channels, that you can use. What's the best one to use, How to use all of them. This is where the AI can get involved. This is where the LMS, which is what most people will use anyway, and what most people will  be trained to use, can really help bring that learning to you and not make you feel like you're lost in the digital world for instance.

This goes on nicely to things like virtual classrooms,  where it supports that need for the classroom training. I know I said before where you might miss a class, but there's a face-to-face meeting, and you think " Oh now what will I do". This is where digital can really support that now. So you can have these virtual classrooms where you create an environment where those different people go in in one space virtually, a call or something like. But then you always have that digital element of things popping up on your screen, people teaching you, being a bit more interactive. Again 10 years ago that wouldn't have been possible, but it is now. So that completely gives you new options, because not everybody has to be in the same space.

Communication technologies which are just really simple and access, simple things like teams for instance and zoom, makes everything so much easier now to communicate between one another and ask questions.With teams for instance you can create different teams, you can join different teams from around the business, ask different questions with different people, gain that experience gaining that knowledge from learning.

Scott: I guess this factors in nicely to that 70 percent on the job side.

Oli: Exactly Scott. Let's use it as an example within your role. You as a developer, you don't know how to do a bit of coding. I am not saying that you do, but you're struggling with something. Maybe there's a team within your business that you know all the developers are involved in. You can just go on that team's page, type in a question, and straight away you can get response. Immediately you can get a bit of help from someone, then you can go offline, maybe have a direct message contact between that person. You can bounce ideas back and forth off each other. It just makes that communication between different colleagues around the business much easier, instead of going out and trying to find that person. It cuts time down straight away, and just makes that learning process a lot easier as well. It encourages that learner to use what's best for them.

Scott: So you've said there's lots of channels we can now use in the modern age which is great, and obviously it's expanding all the time. Is the content that's designed for these platforms fundamentally different from the content we've generated for other channels in the past. Or is it just the way that people are consuming them that's different?

Oli: Obviously there'll be different content that we can use, because with new technology there becomes new boundaries. So for instance let's say i'm creating a piece of e-learning. Before I would have had with just a simple LMS maybe a 25 megabyte limit for instance, just to create that piece of learning. So straight away you're limited as to what you can create. On a new LMS with a new learn experience platform, now you can put video on different things that technology has developed. That new software has developed that's given you now a terabyte per piece of content. So straight away that gives you so much more potential to build something brilliant, using different digital channels straight away. With new technology obviously with networks developing.

I mean that's not just talk about software technology, let's talk about the infrastructure in the network now, things like 5g for instance, fiber-optic broadband. I know that's that's not obviously a new thing but let's talk about around and the best internet you began was 10 megabytes a second. As a 20 000 employee business is using that sort of bandwidth to communicate between one another, it's just not going to work. Now we have this massive infrastructure that we can rely on. So straight away that just extends the boundaries. With that new possibility to create new content.

Scott: Yeah, that makes sense. More interactive and more engaging hopefully.

Oli: Absolutely.

Scott: I guess equally as people start to work from home more, accessing a lot more of these tools digitally, or a lot more of these uh learning frameworks digitally, and potentially as you say on the mobile as well especially with better networks coming along. Am I right in saying that the shorter snappier bits of content, tend to work better in these situations?

Oli: Absolutely because now we can create different types of content and we can easily put that out to different to people on on different pieces of technology for instance. So again like you said before with mobile phones, with laptops, most people have laptops nowadays. It's not a day of using desktops in the office anymore. So that short and snappy learning is designed for people to learn on the go. Again it's very focused around that 10 percent. Going back to that 70 20 10 that I spoke about before. It's very more focused around that 10. That quick bite-sized learning. No one wants to sit there and do an hour and 20 minutes on their phone. Your eyes are going to go blurry after 10-15 minutes anyway. Also you switch off don't you, so you want to create that bite-sized learning. You want to build content through as many different channels as possible to make it engaging. With that it's  more of a blended learning approach.

Scott: Okay that makes sense. Great stuff. I had to laugh when I saw your next point which hopefully goes without saying, but i'm sure that you've got to have a good reason. That is having a solid learning and development strategy.

Oli: Yeah absolutely. This really allows the framework to be realistic. Most companies when you join will have some sort of L and D strategy in place. If they don't they need to get one in place, because you need to know where you're going to be in say five, ten years, and you need to plan for. Having a solid L & D strategy is key to having a good learning framework. You know your boundaries, know your limits. Let's take it as an example. For the first two years you know you want to develop your LMS and your learning experience platform. You want to build those you want to get that implemented by year two. Year two to year four, you want to start getting out of that ten percent and more into that seventy percent. Giving the learners a bit more interactivity.

By year five you want to have that blended learning approach. You're using loads of different channels that are learning. That 70 is thriving and just having that solid L & D strategy. Your L & D touchscreen should really be built around the core principles like we spoke about before. The business strategy and the culture. I know we've we've mentioned all those before, but that's really what the the L & D strategy should be built around and just ensuring that. This is more around for people who maybe have their own businesses, or have gone into business where they've asked them "we're a new business we need to build an L & D strategy, we need to build a learning framework". There needs to be a solid learning and development plan in place.

Scott: Okay.

Oli: With that comes in new developing, new ways of learning. It's not just using that e-learning that we talked about before, it's using that 70 20 10 approach. Creating a realistic timeline within that, using that 70 2010 approach. I said before, having that five year plan, having that 10 year plan, and ensuring that you're sticking to those milestones.

Scott: Okay cool. How high level is the strategy we're talking about as well. How high level does it need to be because I guess there still needs to be some level of being able to adapt the content that you're delivering potentially, based on immediate needs.

Oli: Absolutely. I'm not going to say that you need to follow that, but you just follow that as a rule of book or anything like that. However, like I said before you need to adapt. Again with new software and technologies, i'm talking about a five-year plan. In five years something new could come out. Virtual reality could become a huge thing all of a sudden. So you need to adapt your L & D strategy to maybe focus a bit more on that. It's just as more of a guide, and having a solid L & D strategy, knowing what you want to build, what you want your framework to look like, what you want your learning and development department to look like, and having a solid and clear goal within a certain time frame. It's really important.

Scott: Okay, yeah. That makes sense, and looking ahead like you said.

Oli: Yeah absolutely.

Scott: Cool. This takes us nicely into point seven there which is "adapting with the evolving environment"

Oli: Yeah and I touched on this before just a tiny bit. Again with the new technologies that come in, digital is continuously evolving. It can help support learning. In the environment around you too is continuously evolving. So you might have a frame, I just spoke about having a solid L & D strategy, you might have had a plan in place within five years to start using that 70 percent. That could be used as a guide but it's how you're going to implement that 70 might change within that led strategy.

So with digital constantly evolving around you, that is probably the most fast paced evolving part of learning at the moment, is the digital side of things, and how digital can be used. It's adapting your framework to that. It's also keeping up to date with different methodologies, and getting the learners engaged. With that I mean there's different ways of learning how it's been how it's evolving, different methods of delivering that learning, and different sort of methodologies are continuously coming in place to keeping those learners engaged.

Scott: How often have you seen those types of methodologies change over time? Do they change once a year, is it type of thing you need to be constantly looking at, or is it type of is a more gradual change than that?

Oli: It's not as fast paced as the digital side of things. For instance methodologies that i've seen have changed is more around the digital side of learning, and that's with the 70 20 10 approach. Again I have seen that 10 really been focused on, for a very long period of time. It's just dumping out that learning. You know how I spoke about before Scott, it's about pushing that learning on people. It's now more into pulling them into what's best for them, allowing that learner to engage in that learning themselves and giving them the accountable freedom for them to learn. I think that is the most important thing. That's the biggest thing that I have seen change personally. Instead of having that pushing, it's more about pulling them towards it. It's us as a design team and as designers of learning material. it's us adapting to that and now. like I said before, becoming more of a marketing consultant in that sense. Trying to sell that work to people, and spread the word of the different types of content that we have for these people, for these learners, to come and find.

Scott: Yeah nice. That makes sense.

Oli: A prime example of adapting to an evolving environment is something that we're actually all working in right now Scott. Thats Covid 19. Covid 19 has had an impact on the world. It's a huge thing. It's hasn't been seen in many many lifetimes, maybe since the Spanish influenza. But it's having a huge impact now. It's also very important for learning I think, because a lot of people have a lot of downtime right now. A lot of projects have come to a halt, people aren't quite sure what to do so right now. This is where learning is prime and people are looking to that different kind of content. You can't have that face-to-face learning. It's a lot harder to have that learning on the job, having that sitting down with a few people in a room, bouncing ideas off each other, learning through the experience of doing. It's a lot harder if you're not in an office or anything like that. Now it's key to rely on digital. This is where digital, this is going back to my point before of when to use digital. If you're looking at your learning framework right now, digital is a key part of this now. It's a key part of everything that we need to do to learn.

We're all going to be stuck in our homes for maybe the next 12 months. How are we going to learn? We can learn through different types of technologies like teams, so communication thing. You can have that face-to-face classroom. You have those virtual classrooms that we talked about earlier. Different types of bite-sized learning content. I'm sure that can be downloaded onto your phone if you want to take a break and you go outside into your garden, something like that. You can use it on your phone. If you have a laptop you can take that outside as well.

So you have like that digital aspect of things. Like  said before, teams can also be used not just for those virtual classrooms, but it can also be used for going back to that 70 again is just having those little team chats. Bouncing ideas off of one another, having those calls with one another. It's all relevant. This is where digital is actually really more playing a part. If this is going to be more of a permanent thing going forward, people can start looking at learning frameworks.

Scott: Yeah absolutely. I mean as you say people working for companies are having to adapt pretty quickly to technology that has been around for a fair while, but just hasn't been properly utilised or hasn't needed to be. I wouldn't be surprised see video calls way beyond Covid 19 just becoming the norm now, just because of how on board everyone seems to be getting. As you said before I think utilising some of those technologies are a great opportunity for learning.

Oli: Absolutely, absolutely. I think it's super important, now more than ever, is to use these technologies because this is the only way we're going to be able to use that 70 percent effectively and learn from one another.

Scott: Yeah absolutely. So for your final point then Oli, and you've mentioned this a few times so I guess it's quite a key one, which is uh evaluations are key for continual growth.

Oli: Again I think I said this before Scott, I think this is one of my favourite parts. I worked in a business for a few years before and basically one of the key things we realised was the learning that we're sending out, a lot of digital learning and you know was it effective. We were looking at it and we were thinking "we are not enthused by it, many other people must not be enthused by it". So we started evaluating every single piece of content we had, which I think is really important that you should do that with any content you have anyway. Whether it's sat down with someone for five days, learning on the job, whether it's in a classroom, whether it's digital. It's always important to evaluate. We sent out tons and tons of evaluations. We made it anonymous, because obviously we wanted people to feel as comfortable as possible, to tell us the truth. It was actually astonishing to see how many people didn't find digital learning engaging, or e-learning engaging. And how many people didn't even bother looking at the learning when put in their inbox, and just kept pressing the next button. I think the stats came out as 93 percent didn't find it engaging, 85 percent just clicked through and didn't even bother reading it. As a learning designer it gets you quite disheartened. So this is where we started looking into different channels of how we could deliver that learning, and really start focusing on 70 20 10. Really start focusing on giving that learner that accountability to learn for themselves.

So we're implementing LXP's, implementing learning platforms. For us it was a key learn. So we were learning about learning. We were learning how to adapt, and we're adapting to that environment. It goes back to my point before. This is why evaluations are so important because it tells you what's going on. It tells you why your learner's engaged. It tells you "is your learning effective", and for us it's telling us no. We had to then start putting out different learning to different channels, using that bite sized approach for different digital learning. Using that that's 70 for people to learn. Having the accountable freedom to using LXP. Implementing AI's. Since then the stats have become way down because we're not just sending out e-learning anymore. We're not just sending out interactive PDF's anymore. We've got different digital channels that people can use, and it's become very very effective.

Scott: Yeah I got it. Those are pretty crazy stats you throughout at the start of that section. It's good to hear things have got better by the end. As you said feedback's important, how how would you suggest people can go about embedding some of that into what they do. Because obviously feedback is one of those things that occasionally gets dropped in maybe once every half a year when things suddenly go bad. It's often when things go bad and we're looking for reasons why. Is there a better way to embed some of that process. Is it about doing this monthly, and making sure the team have it at the end of a project. What are the best ways in your opinion?

Oli: I think the evaluations need to be embedded in everything that we do. We need to make it part of our DNA. So i think the evaluation should continuously happen. Like you said Scott you just gave a few examples, maybe after every meeting. Key learns from every meeting. What went well, what didn't, maybe we should do this differently next time, we should do that. We focused on this part, we focused on our presentation for maybe 40 minutes when we should have been focusing more of having a general chat for instance during that. I think evaluations don't have to just come through a digital channel formally. Evaluations can come from just having a chat with a colleague after a meeting. Evaluations can come from constructive criticism, but you know let's give it a new name, let's just call it evaluation. we evaluate everything that we do. I think that it just needs to become the norm. Evaluating how getting that feedback continuously in everything that we do, is key. It just helps you develop and it helps you grow, especially through that process of sending out learning.

Scott: Yeah totally. Great so you've covered off some pretty core points there i think Oli. We've covered a lot. Do you want to just give us a bit of a wrap up on that, and just summarise what we've talked about today.

Oli: Absolutely. It's understanding the core principles of the business. We spoke about it before. Those core principles are usually used in every sort of business. How I've worded them, they may be worded in a different way, but they all fundamentally have the same message. It's giving the learner the accountable freedom to learn on their own terms. I think that's really important. It's finding what best suits their needs, and what type of learning best suits them. It's creating in a learning environment that supports business strategy and culture. Again going back to having that solid L & D strategy, that's going to support your business strategy. Having that learning framework that's going to support that culture and support that strategy aligning your principles towards that strategy in that culture as well. It's evaluating to grow, not just as a learner but also as a learning designer, or as a learning manager, or as anybody who's building a learning framework. It's using digital as an aid throughout. I really want to make that as a key point. I said earlier, I think it's my second point this one is the best use digital.

I really wanted to go through all these points before I said it. Using digital now more than ever is really important. It's a digital environment, it's a digital world that we're constantly using. We're really moving away from that day of using paper. Even if we are learning on the job, and I said about learning that 70 percent most of the time we'll be using digital. Whether you're just using digital through an LMS to track what you've been doing, or you're just using digital to demonstrate something to someone else. Most of the time you will be using some form of digital. It's just using it as an aid throughout the learning process.

Scott: Great. I think there's hopefully some really useful points that people can take away and probably apply to their learning framework straight away hopefully. There's some longer term pieces in there, but some really actionable points i think. That's great. Well thanks Oli, and thanks to all of you for listening today. So we're episode three now, we're still behind on some of the admin bits, which we're gonna get sorted real soon i'm sure. That'll include our email address and some other bits of that. But for now. keep an eye out we'll be launching a new website soon which will have all the good information on it. Our next episode will be out in two weeks keep an eye out for that one thanks as always and look forward to see you next time thanks very much.

Written by

Scott Gulliver

Scott Gulliver is the Director of Fluff Software, a software development company based in the South West of England. Scott has been helping large companies to implement software and technology, with a particular focus on digital transformation over the past decade.

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Part One

Part TWO



Written by

Scott Gulliver

Scott Gulliver is the Director of Fluff Software, a software development company based in the South West of England. Scott has been helping large companies to implement software and technology, with a particular focus on digital transformation over the past decade.

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