A Modern Learning Experience

Can Give Companies a Competitive Advantage

BY JEREMY AUGERN

Savvy organizations can capitalize on new workplace learning solutions to attract talent and improve performance.In the war for workplace talent, a robust learning experience can be a company’s secret weapon. Employees now want learning to be an integral part of their job, and they want employers to offer a modern approach to it. According to Gallup, 87% of millennials (who now occupy the largest share of the labor market) say development is important in a job. In fact, Gallup’s 2016 “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” report revealed that the opportunity to learn and grow is what millennials look for most in a new job opportunity.

A modern workplace learning experience is about strategically harnessing technology to put the right information at employees’ fingertips “just-in-time” so they can lead their own continuous development and drive iterative improvement. There are three things that are critical for creating a modern workplace learning experience:

1.  CONTENT CREATION AND CURATION

Creating and curating “just in-time” learning content is a critical component of the kind of informal, modern learning experience today’s professionals are seeking out. By leveraging next-generation learning engagement platforms, companies can easily deliver snack-sized knowledge and micro-skills to employees when they need it most, using built-in capabilities like automation features, adaptive learning technologies and learning repositories.

This means companies no longer have to rely solely on HR to manage learning. They can increasingly tap internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to create custom, shareable learning that can be leveraged throughout the organization. This SME-developed learning not only helps to identify and foster growth of high potential employees, but it’s also a good strategy to deliver learning that is tailored to the organization versus off-the-shelf content.

As companies use technology to expand their workforces internationally, and as employees increasingly opt to work remotely, creating and curating localized learning content is particularly important for facilitating an interconnected workforce that isn’t bound by geographic and cultural obstacles. According to an analysis of American Community Survey data by Global Workplace Analytics, fortune 1000 companies around the globe are revamping their space to accommodate the fact that employees are already mobile.

2. VIDEO LEARNING

Video is a great way to deliver meaningful, engaging, and job-relevant learning to employees. It can have an especially high impact on employee learning. People only remember 10% of what they hear after three days, but if relevant visuals are paired with that same information, they retain 65%.

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Video tools integrated into next-gen learning platforms can be used to do things like:

>> create custom video tutorials and training sessions;

>> record stand-up trainings and augment them with different learning aids and rich content;

>> provide customer support for service technicians;

>> capture employees’ experiential knowledge and deliver it to their peers by recording them talking about what      they do in their roles and how;

>> and allow trainers to overcome time restrictions, travel costs, and other barriers.

3. SOCIAL LEARNING & ASSESSMENT

Social learning is about empowering individuals to access information, expert advice, and online mentorship, as well as virtual networking and sharing experiences and insights. For example, video can be used for social assessment and leadership development, where performance-improving feedback from peers, managers, coaches, and mentors is delivered regularly to drive iterative improvement. Activity feed functionality can also be used to foster group discussions while building out products or projects.

By investing in all these areas, companies can deliver the kind of modern learning experiences that will help improve employee performance, attract and retain the right kind of talent, and ultimately improve their competitive advantage in a quickly changing workforce. To learn more about modern learning strategies and facilitating an engaging modern learning experience in the workplace, visit D2L.com/enterprise.

About the author: Jeremy Augern is Chief Strategy Officer of D2L Learn more at: D2L.com/ enterprise

 

Published in Ideas

What Steve Jobs Can Teach Us About Success

BY WALTER ISAACSON

Steve Jobs is one of the most admired and admonished figures of the technological age. With his razor-sharp focus on his work, continuous quest for perfection, unapologetic behavior, selfishness at times, seeming disregard for the feelings of others, and absolute dedication to his life’s work, he is like the hero of an Ayn Rand novel. His life, character, achievements and failures are repeatedly debated by admirers and critics alike.

Jobs’ path was not straightforward, winding through Indian ashrams, unfinished education, psychedelic experiences, companies found, and positions lost. But as Jobs himself says:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

No matter what Jobs did, however starting companies, looking for spiritual answers, winning over the woman he loved he did it fully.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

And his main approach for doing things well, probably rooted in his affinity for Buddhism, was always looking for simplicity, stripping ideas, problems, products to their core, looking for that one, simple, clean essence of things.

“That’s been one of my mantras: focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Finally, we should emphasize over and over again, that probably the biggest common denominator between incredibly successful people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Bill Gates is simply their incredible perseverance and refusal to quit when faced with failure.

“Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

—Walter Isaacson is author of “The Innovators.”

Published in Insights

BY JONATHAN PETERS, PH.D

An oft-quoted prediction by Gartner Research notes that 80 percent of gamification efforts will fail. No one is sure if the prediction of massive failure will ever come true, nor how we would measure failure in the first place.

Why will so many gamification efforts be unsuccessful if not outright failures? Could it be that designers and instructors simply slap some game mechanics on a program and declare it gamified? Instead of examining their programs and learners, and then strategically interweaving game mechanics, they settle for some points, badges and leaderboards and wonder why very little changes. That’s like placing a cherry on top of a dish and declaring it a sundae. That one ingredient does not magically convert Brussel sprouts into a delectable dessert.

THE GAMES APPROACH

At Sententia, we have a five-level process for creating successful gamified learning programs. Each level builds on the one before it, and like a game, you can’t jump ahead. That would be cheating! Each level consists of six stepping stones. If you follow each stepping stone, we basically guarantee a successful gamified learning program.

To give the process a memory hook, let’s use the acronym GAMES:
Goals
Adventure
Method
Engagement
Synch It
Most people skip over the G and A levels and jump straight into the E level (game mechanics).

FIRST: GOALS

This level can be summarized as the WHAT and the WHO of design. Before we begin to gamify a program, we must first know what we want to accomplish. Where we are and where we want to be, and who will be “playing.” Without knowing these foundational components, it doesn’t matter what game mechanics we throw at a program; we will never be successful.

In my opinion, Gartner’s prediction was wrong not because it was off in the numbers, but because most organizations don’t have a metrics for success or failure in the first place. In other words, how would you know if a learning program failed if you don’t have a definition for success?

You’d be surprised by how often companies are unable to tell us their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for a learning program. When we ask them “what behavior changes they’d like to see in their learners,” we get responses like, “we want them to work better together,” or, “we want them to be happier at work.” It’s a rare organization that can tell us how it will measure success for learning programs in business terms.

In other words, we can’t measure a Return on Investment (ROI) in money, time and effort if we don’t have a method for determining what a return is. To use a traditional business as an example, a return would be higher profits for the company. We would begin with a company’s current profits and then lay out a plan for achieving the desired profits.

Once we understand profit goals, we can establish KPIs that are needed to reach that goal, such as leads, conversion to customers, price and frequency of sale, and margin. Progress there can be measured, and we can chart progress or lack of progress over the coming weeks and months.

What if we applied the same discipline to learning? What if we had specific and measurable goals for our programs? If we did, we would then be able to analyze what KPIs (behavioral changes) we will measure to know if we are on track.

The good news is that game mechanics can provide feedback loops that let us know if we are on track. Quizzes and traditional methods for measuring learning rely on memorization and short-term responses, but certain game mechanics allow learners to demonstrate that, yes, they understand what is being taught and that they are able to take that learning and apply it to their work and professional lives.

As boring or tedious as it may be, before we begin to gamify a learning program, we need to invest significant effort in defining our business goals for the program, what behavioral changes we want from our learners, and what we will measure as an indicator of performance.

As for the “who,” you chose this profession, but isn’t it true that you usually design for and deliver to people who are not in your field or department? The problem is we tend to create learning programs and environments that we enjoy. It’s what Dr. Stephen Reiss labeled “self hugging.” He said, “Not only do we think everyone should be like us, but that they are like us.” 

Reiss’s empirically-based taxonomy reveals that each of us places different priorities on certain core drives. For instance, we have found that L&D professionals tend to place more emphasis on the curiosity core motivator than the rest of population. What does this mean for the programs they create? Well, they are more driven by learning and knowledge than people for whom they create learning programs. While they enjoy learning, the people in their programs do not. Because of self hugging, L&D professionals will not anticipate other people’s resistance to, if not disdain for, information, knowledge and learning.

Therefore, before we begin the process of creating a program, we first need to understand who our learners are, what motivates them and, ultimately, what they consider fun. Remember, they are the learners; we are creating programs for them.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ADVENTURE

Since the moment humans first developed complex language, they have been telling stories. Why? Because it’s how we transfer information from generation to generation, and it’s how we socialize each generation. It is difficult to retain a list of all that will harm us, but a vivid story will not only help us remember that saber-tooth tigers and white berries are dangerous, but we can also easily pass this information to others. Similarly, a list of, say, 10 commandments, cannot cover the nuances of what defines a “lie” and the consequences of breaking that cultural norm. But a story about how Sally lied, and the consequences she faced after telling the lie, (not to mention what we now think of Sally) make lessons easier to learn.

Before the Gutenberg press, there wasn’t a convenient way to distribute information and knowledge. Yet even today, with vast information a few clicks away, we still tell stories. In the workplace, gossip has more of an impact on a person’s behavior than an employee manual. It doesn’t matter how important your learning program is; if employees tell each other how stupid the training is, it will not be effective.

Story gives a context for information, it aids in memory, and it allows listeners to apply the lessons learned to different applications. Studies show that when we hear or read stories, a hormone called oxytocin is released, causing us to be more empathetic to others and more likely to help our peers in the workplace. Inside of games, we expect at least a thread of story. Some stories within games are rather detailed (“World of Warcraft”), others provide mere outlines (why are those birds angry at the pigs?).

What if, instead feeling dread before beginning a learning program, the learners were eager to hear the next installment of your narrative?

THE IMPACT OF METHODS

While the first two levels of our gamification process may feel strange, and they may stretch you a bit, the Method level is one that will be more familiar to you. Here is where we decide how we will deliver the program. As a reader of Elearning! magazine, you probably already understand the differences between instructor-led learning and e-learning. You probably already have your preferred platform for delivering online programs. And you have also created some amazing programs on your preferred platform.

This is also the level where we look at learning activities. As Monica Cornetti, CEO of Sentient Games says, “Learning happens when the instructor shuts up.” If you’ve been in the L&D field for more than a couple years, you probably already have your go-to learning activities, and you probably have sources for more learning activities when you need to mix things up a bit.

Because you are probably comfortable examining how you’ll present your programs and the inclusion of learning activity, I will move onto the fourth, and most exciting level:

ENGAGING LEARNERS

We are now ready for game elements, mechanics and dynamics. We have to travel all the territory of the first three levels to prepare ourselves to apply game mechanics to our programs. “The fundamentals are the building blocks of fun,” adds Cornetti. If we have not laid the proper ground work, we will not know which game mechanics to apply to our learning programs.”

If you ask a LMS company if its product supports gamification, you’ll get a “Yes, we have points, badges and leaderboards” answer. In truth, the company simply added a couple mechanics onto its platform. It’s like saying, “Yes, we have a ball and bat, so we have baseball.” In reality, baseball is made up of lots of elements and mechanics. There are bases that have to run in a specific sequence, balls and strikes, outs, a leaderboard, boundaries, positions, and so on.

In the field of game design, practitioners have identified more than 300 game mechanics. You need to be strategic in which game mechanics you use and how you use them.

Three lessons here:

1. There are tons more mechanics available to you than just points, badges, and leaderboards.

2. Not all of those 300 mechanics are applicable to learning programs (I’ve identified more than 120.)

3. Less is more. Just because you have 300 or 120 possible mechanics doesn’t mean you should use them all, or even a dozen of them.

What games did you play as a child? Seriously, I want you to, right now, visualize the specific games that absorbed some of your time as a child. Isn’t it true that while you loved those games, you had certain friends and classmates who weren’t excited to play with you? Maybe you had to coerce your siblings to play. This was because certain game mechanics appeal to your motivation profile. Meanwhile, your kid sister or brother was drawn to very different game mechanics.

The effectiveness of a mechanic depends on the player’s motivation profile. A person who is highly motivated by social contact, for instance, will not complete your online program unless you have a mechanic that allows chat between learners. Your interdependent learner will want to work with teams, while lower-motivated people will roll their eyes at teamwork much like your older brother or sister did when you asked him or her to play with you.

To make this a little more tangible, only certain profiles are attracted to leaderboards, and many people are turned off by them. High-vengeance people want to win; they appreciate the opportunity to see who is on top and who they have to conquer to be there. High-power and status people might like leaderboards if the leaderboards represent achievements they value. Meanwhile, high-acceptance motivated people may find leaderboards disheartening if not threatening.

The point is we must match our mechanics to what motivates our learners. That is why, at the first level of this gamification process, we took so much care to identify our typical learner. If we had skipped that step, we wouldn’t know what game mechanics would entice and engage them, nor what mechanics will de-motivate them and cause them to resist our learning program.

SYNC IT’

If you’ve carefully leveled up through the GAMES process, this final stage will simply be a matter of play-testing your program. This is the level at which you look at all your hard work and make sure your program makes sense.

Do you have a single narrative that weaves all the way through? Do your mechanics motivate your learners? Are your mechanics strategically applied? Do your learning activities support the material, and are they synced with the narrative and game mechanics? Is progress clear to your learners, and are you measuring the correct things?

One of the disciplines of game design that I’ve enjoyed applying to L&D is the concept of iteration. We don’t have to get it perfect the first time out. In fact, we wouldn’t expect our programs to be perfect until they’ve been tested.

In the final level, you create a prototype or beta version of your program and test it with a portion of your target audience. Observe where they engage and where they disengage. What do they enjoy, and what appears to be a grind for them? Do they need feedback at certain stages? Where do they become frustrated? Finally, are your mechanics engaging?

When you’re satisfied with the results of your tests, you are finally ready to roll out your program.

But you have one last stepping stone. After all of this effort, you finally must ask, “Is it FUN?”

After all, fun is in your DNA.

—Jonathan Peters, Ph.D., is an international professional keynote speaker, trainer, author and copywriter. His current pursuits center on how leaders, marketers and salespeople can utilize persuasive elements and new technologies to not only inspire, but also to compel people to action.

 

 

 

Published in Top Stories

The new technologies of what is being called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” have the potential to transform the global geography of production and will need to be deployed in ways that address and adapt to the impact of climate change, reports the World Economic Forum in a paper titled, “Technology and Innovation for the Future of Production: Accelerating Value Creation.” The WEF paper, prepared in collaboration with AT Kearney, explores the new technology landscape, focusing on five technologies that will have the most immediate impact on production-related sectors. It raises questions for CEOs, government leaders, civil society leaders and academics about the implications for individuals, companies, industries, economies and society as a whole, and as is intended to bring new perspectives and generate responsive and responsible choices.

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The paper maps the full production value chain of activities of “source-make-deliver-consume-re-integrate” products and services from origination, design manufacturing and distribution to customers and consumers incorporating principles of circular economy and reuse. Production fundamentally impacts economic structure at a global to local level, affecting the level and nature of employment, and the environment.

The transformative potential of technology in production systems is widely recognized.Trends toward higher levels of automation promise greater speed and precision of production as well as reduced exposure to dangerous tasks. They also can help overcome stagnant productivity and make way for more value-added activity. The extent of automation, however, causing significant anxiety about issues of employment and inequality.

—Download full report at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/ WEF_White_Paper_Technology_Innovation_Future_of_Produc- tion_2017.pdf

Published in Trends

CHANGING YOUR PARADIGM ON HOW YOU WORK AND MANAGE MILLENNIALS CAN COMPLETELY CHANGE YOUR CANDIDATE POOLS.

BY BILL KLEYMAN

There’s clearly an evolution happening in our profession. The research firm Gartner recently reported that by 2020, 100 percent of technology roles will require at least an intermediate level of proficiency in business acumen.

“Developing strong business acumen is a prerequisite to effectively shift focus from optimizing operational efficiency to driving business effectiveness, value creation and growth,” Lily Mok, Gartner’s research vice president said. “At the heart of an effective communication strategy is the ability to clearly link the vision, strategy and action plans of the business to drive desired behaviors in the workforce that contribute to improved performance and business outcomes.”

Communication aside, new management styles are required to gain as much value as possible out of employees. Furthermore, these new management styles also introduce more value to the employees through new, exciting challenges, growth opportunities, and new ways to interact with the business.

MANAGING THE MILLENNIAL

We are firmly within the digital economy with a digitally-enabled workforce. This means we are a part of a fluid, dynamic business environment that is constantly evolving.

Millennials are the drivers of today’s emerging digital economy. Now that we have an idea as to how these legacies work, let’s examine a new approach to managing millennials that involves re-prioritizing the hiring traits we discussed earlier.

1.  Attitude: What is the candidate’s attitude toward the industry and the job at hand? Is he or she excited or just there to make a dollar? What’s driving him or her to succeed? A digital-ready organization will want a positive-attitude candidate who’s ready to emerge into the digital framework and be excited by change.

2. Aptitude: Once attitude is established, what is the candidate’s aptitude toward learning and growing? Does he or she want to take on more roles? Is he or she curious about cross-training? Going beyond what the candidate already knows, aptitude toward learning will allow you to hire a moldable and excited new member to the team.

3. Experience: Let me start by saying that experience is certainly important. But fluid organizations ready for the digital economy won’t hire for experience alone. They’ll want a positive attitude, the aptitude and capability to learn, and then the ability to evolve the experience. Having some experience is great, but it’s even better to mold the experience to what the organization really needs. In a way, we’ve flipped candidate capabilities and priorities to match the strengths of the millennial.

We’re allowing experience to grow organically around what the business requires. Ultimately, this gives the millennial candidate a voice within the company and an opportunity to grow and evolve with the company. Most of all, it builds loyalty and encourages thought.

Think of Facebook as an example. Yes, it loves your experiences and what you’ve done in the past; but it will very actively look at your attitude, your aptitude to learn new technologies, and your personality. These organizations know that if they hire the right people, the experience will come. However, it’ll also give these organizations an employee who’s much happier in his or her job.

Changing your paradigm on how you work and manage millennials can completely change your candidate pools. Furthermore, millennials don’t often work well in overly rigid environments. This is where they get restless, become less productive, and are more prone to leaving. However, if you employ and nurture around attitude and aptitude, you’ll see that not only will they get more experience, but also they’ll bring more value to your organization.

—The author is vice president of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, Connecticut-based consulting firm.

Published in Insights

Y ANNICK RENAUD-COULON

WHY DID YOU LAUNCH THE GLOBAL COUNCIL OF CORPORATE UNIVERSITIES?

I launched GlobalCCU in 2005 together with a handful of corporate university directors from Brazil, the U.S.A., Spain and France. I had the vision of creating a global network of corporate universities, in line with the growing globalization of the economy.

This profession, still very young, was born in the greatest empiricism, and the corporate university executives were in search of exchanges with their peers to avoid wasting time in their process. They needed benchmarking, to compare themselves and understand how leaders in their sector were successful. I also wanted to demonstrate that corporate universities were not training centers but key strategic levers to challenge and implement business strategies and federate around the company’s culture and brand.

The biggest mistake is cultural. They must avoid management by values that are too inopportune. If each culture is based on values, and if philosophy leads us to think that there are universal values, such as beauty and truth, they are only superficially universal. Their definition and translation into practice varies profoundly from one culture to another, from one company to another.

They must also avoid economic nationalism through education. I can attest to the fact that we learn a lot from emerging countries in terms of corporate learning and development. The corporate universities of these countries are often far ahead in many areas, in the impact of learning on business, in their holistic approach between human and digital, or in the implementation of social responsibility via education. From this viewpoint, the GlobalCCU Awards are a very interesting global observatory.

I strongly suggest that with a lot of humility and a lot of listening to better understand nations that are geographically far away, we can get rid of our prejudices. The corporate universities, which are unique and irreplaceable spaces of openness to the world, have to tackle the different ways to access knowledge, depending on the culture and countries and particularly depending on the use of learning technologies that are not suitable to everyone or to all situations. In other words, beyond the clichés and the easy playing fields of technology, they have more than ever to identify the real skills needs for today and tomorrow — for people, business and society.

GLOBALCCU OFFERS A CERTIFICATION PROGRAM. WHAT DOES IT ENTAIL?

The GlobalCCU CU Certification is the highest global recognition of the existence, the reliability and the level of maturity, of performance and excellence of a corporate university. It is delivered at the end of an in-depth and gradual assessment process with certified auditors, developed and placed under my responsibility.

In just 18 months, the corporate university can achieve the entire three-step process and communicate its excellence to its stakeholders. At the end of the complete certification journey, our CU Certification allows the company and its stakeholders to be sure that their educational structure performs at the best-in-class corporate universities worldwide level.

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Published in Insights

DO WE FULLY UNDERSTAND THE BROAD MIX OF WORKFORCE SKILLS NECESSARY FOR FUTURE SUCCESS?

BY SIMON HANN &  SOPHIE LANYON

Three global forces are revolutionizing the way we work: automation, globalization and technology. The accelerating pace of technological, demographic and socio-economic disruption is transforming industries and business models and changing the skills that employers need. Job profiles are changing rapidly, and — according to the World Economic Forum (2016) — the most in-demand occupations today did not exist ten or even five years ago.

It prompts the question: what skills are important in the face of change and disruption?

Formal qualifications and technical skills are only part of the requirements for today’s workforce. The importance of soft skills is growing. Deloitte Access Economics (2017) forecasts that soft-skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030, compared to half of all jobs in 2000. That’s a significant workforce change. Soft skills are important to drive business outcomes. Contributing to overall staff productivity,employees with more soft skills could increase business revenue by over $90,000, reports the Deloitte Access Economics, 2017. (This figure is based on an increase to the average Australian business revenue of $3 million as reported by the Australian Taxation Office for 2013-14 financial year.)

Does the workforce have the soft skills to foster business success now and in the future?

Based on a new analysis of résumés and job listings, by Deloitte Access Economics (2017), there appears to be a significant gap between job market demand and supply of soft skills. Demand exceeds supply by exceeding supply by 45 percent. In addition, less than 1 percent of Australian professionals list soft skills on their LinkedIn profile. Soft skills clearly are important for all occupations and industries, yet there appears to be a shortage of these skills.

Businesses in Australia spend a staggering $11 billion on employee training and staff recruitment annually, according to the Department of Employment (2016). On-the-job training — whether it be through workshops and courses, e-learning or traineeships — is seen by businesses as important in teaching both technical and soft skills. Furthermore, the abundance of information, resources and development programs at peoples’ fingertips means they can acquire knowledge or skills without formal training. The ability to develop skills will increasingly be on the individual; it has become an economic imperative for individuals to become lifelong learners.

If training, both formal and informal, is important to organizations, why is the gap significant? It can be difficult for business and individuals to objectively assess skill levels. The lack of formal confirmation of soft skills is playing a role in this gap as people don’t have the confidence to claim skills that they are not able to verify.

CLOSING THE GAP

This is where recognizing soft skills with micro-credentials will enable businesses to identify gaps in their organization and, ultimately, make informed strategic decisions on how to effectively invest in building their workforce capability in the years to come.

Micro-credentials underpin a culture of empowered and motivated learning while at the same time increasing employee engagement through recognition. It is not part of a learning strategy — it is part of a business performance strategy. In the future of work, the most essential factor for an individual and his or her future potential is the ability to adapt and expand personal knowledge and skills. Micro-credentials can be the recognition and transportable symbol of capabilities in action which individuals and businesses will use to navigate the future world of work in the digital age. Micro-credentials are available from various organizations, including DeakinCo., Udacity and Coursera.

—Simon Hann is the CEO of both DeakinCo. and DeakinPrime, backed by Deakin University in Australia. In his roles, he is passionate about exploring the impact of digital disruption on the workforce and providing businesses with solutions to prepare for the future. Sophie Lanyon is the Product Engagement Specialist at DeakinCo. To find out more about DeakinCo. please visit deakinco.

Published in Ideas

AUGMENTATION OF THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE IS ENABLING ACQUISITION OF 21ST- CENTURY SKILLS AND METACOMPETENCIES WHILE ENHANCING THE JOY OF LEARNING.

BY DR. SHRADHA KANWAR

The Web 3.0 era heralds the beginning of exhilarating times in the learning space. Imagine a world of learning where the flow of information is a beautiful choreography, rapturously engaging the learners as well as inspiring them to become part of the performing spectacle. Here, the words, sounds and motion relate to every sense of the being, create a synergistic impression, and build a composite understanding. This is the new learning engagement, and this is becoming real because of augmented reality (AR).

Augmented reality is not an aberration or an astounding world of disbelief, but a very pragmatic, yet powerful, integration of digital information that triggers the brain to perceive information differently. It is a judicious combination of the real-world environment with an extended overlay of new knowledge using technology as the powerful means to drive information in a multi-modal form.

AR overcomes a striking impediment of ordinary learning by introducing deeper, richer and more personalized learning experience. An infusion of play and humor (a characteristic of game-based learning), along with an intense reflection as part of the decision making process, ensures a popular, self-directed form of learning.

EXPERIENCING  NEW LEARNING

Imagined scenarios that extend the learning experience significantly boost the impact of a learning. For educators, researchers and practitioners, this realistic superimposition of a real-world setting as an augmented context with realistic visualization, provides a unique platform to customize teaching. By appropriate selection of ed-tech tools to make learning more adaptive and attuned to students’ learning styles, a lot can be done to expand its scope many fold.

A very tangible form of introducing AR in the learning scenario is by embedding visual data with static content, such as textbooks and presentations, thus enhancing oral instruction and written material. Regular teaching tools augmented to introduce fantastic 3-D elements, exaggerated visual scenarios, strategically implanting distorted data inputs even sometimes drifting towards visual infidelity, can advance memory recall and long-term learning.

Apart from the tremendous design appeal, another prime benefit is its ability to craft a differentiated learning environment, thus aiding learners with different multiple intelligences and learning styles. Kinaesthetic learners, who dominate the centennial generation, benefit the most as this multimodality of content is in alignment with their information processing patterns.

AUGMENTING NEW SKILLS

Maximum presence of AR has been evidenced in gaming. The learning space has always been the last to be benefited by advancements in technology. But things seem to be disrupting considerably, especially in these rapidly evolving times. The process of navigating through more engaging content results in learners becoming more intuitive and critical thinkers with a heightened prowess to creatively solve problems. Another contribution of AR is its ability to introduce a temperament of inquiry and curiosity, a necessary attribute of the 21st century learner.

AR amplifies the spatial and visual perceptions, substantially engaging learners. Once upon a time the word “digital” was looked up to with much awe and bewilderment. This is no longer the case, as everything spans digital today with no exception. Hence, words such as “augmented” and “virtual” that seem to be breaching the boundaries of reality, are in a very short span of time likely to become regular manifestations in the learning eco system.

Augmented reality, a beautiful coalescing of virtual with real, is all set to redefine learning scenarios. While augmented reality and its explorations into the learning space still seem to be at a nascent stage, the prospects seem to be never better than now. These are indeed the beginning of exhilarating times, where augmented is the new real!

–Dr. Shradha Kanwar is the National Head for Learning and Development at iNurture Education, an India-based education firm offering under graduate and post graduate programs in new-age domains across 30+ universities and colleges in India. She is an edu-scientist and an innovative learning technologies evangelist. Dr Kanwar has over 18 years of diverse experience in driving excellence and deep insight into creative intelligences and implementation of innovative learning solutions.

Published in Ideas

BY DEAN PICHEE, CEO, BIZLIBRARY, INC.

Unengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $550 billion every year! According to a report by Gallup, 70 percent of workers aren’t engaged at work. The modern worker is changing, and the workplace is not modernizing quickly enough to meet employees where they’re at and engage them. So, in this new environment we’re all navigating, what do employees really want? Security?Stability? More money? In nearly every instance, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “NO.”

In 2016, research conducted by ClearCompany discovered that 68 percent of workers say training and development is the most important workplace policy. In fact, many employees value employee training and development more than salary or even benefits. So, if engagement could be increased and turnover mitigated, why is this employee training and development often an afterthought?

There are multiple answers:

>>  It’s Too Long - Along with a changing workforce comes a changing attention span. YouTube has ushered in the era of the short video, and that’s what today’s employees expect. The average attention span of a learner is now said to be in the 5-to 15-minute range. This is due to our inherent limited ability to concentrate, as well as the steady stream of interruptions throughout a normal work day. It’s a fantasy to think that learners can maintain full attention throughout an 8-hour class or a 90-minute e-learning course. They physically can’t do it, and the workplace environment wouldn’t let them even if they could.

>>  It’s Too Boring - In addition to the fact that most training is too long to be effective, it’s often too boring. Let’s face it: we’re all professional TV watchers. We’ve been conditioned to expect visually stimulating content. We’ll gladly play along at home with long-time classics such as Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune. But we have no tolerance for “death by PowerPoint” presentations or click-and- read e-learning where stilted text is read to us word-for-word while we look at static graphics.

>>  It’s Too Expensive - Traditional training — a costly proposition — is much more expensive than many organizations realize. It requires a lot of money to bring people together, whether it is in a room or online. In addition to the direct costs of the training itself, there are often hidden and indirect expenses, such as travel costs or opportunity costs. It’ s no wonder managers are always looking for ways to cut the training budget.

It’s time to give your employees effective, modern, microlearning development opportunities and really support those initiatives. Microlearning is the ideal solution to the employee engagement problem because it addresses the vast majority of issues organizations are facing when it comes to employee engagement. Videos average in length from five to seven minutes so learners can actually focus long enough to absorb the information they need.

Microlearning is done in a way that’s familiar to learners. When you need to learn how to do something quickly, you usually turn to short online videos to demonstrate those things to you. By providing employee training using this method, we can ensure that the learning experience is consistent with what they already do.

IS MICROLEARNING REALLY A SOLUTION?

If done correctly, absolutely! You’ll need to use your program to develop your employees in their current positions, but also develop them in a way that will benefit their overall career. In fact, employee development is the second-most impactful way to improve employee engagement (after recognition).

Gallup studies have shown that 87 percent of Millennials think development is important in a job – making training and development a top priority among the generation that is soon to make up nearly half of the nation’s workforce. Employees who are provided with these modern development opportunities are more engaged at work and more satisfied with the workplace overall, so it’s no wonder that readily available training opportunities often lead to reduced employee turnover. Instead of searching YouTube on breaks, learners can watch an online training video that’s relevant to their job and improves their overall skillset.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Employee engagement, employee turnover, productivity, agility and many more business challenges are all different parts of the same problem — a problem that can be solved with strategic employee development and made more effective with microlearning at its core.

Published in Insights

BY IAIN MARTIN

There is a vibrant future for globally linked higher education, even though the future of dedicated standalone overseas bricks and mortar campuses is very limited. The high levels of capital investment required and the inability to rapidly respond to market changes make these investments very high stakes indeed. There may be situations where a very specific need for high levels of infrastructure (e.g. medicine and engineering) where this may work as a model, but I suspect that this will be the exception in coming years.

We at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) are seeing considerable innovation in the delivery of education to students who spend most of their study time in their home country. ARU serves 24,000 students studying in the U.K. alongside 12,000 international students studying for one of our degrees with an overseas partner. But I struggle to see how proposal for an overseas campus that would be worth developing in the face of more flexible alternatives.

It is time for innovation: ideas that are desirable, deliverable with current technology, and economically viable; and ARU is always looking for transnational education (TNE) ideas that measure well against these three parameters.

MODELS OF  GLOBAL DELIVERY

There is no shortage of models for the delivery of TNE. The challenge is implementing an approach that is sustainable both academically and financially. The next few years will continue to see new approaches tried with perhaps a few surviving the initial burst of enthusiasm. The three current models:

1. Partner-based models sit at heart of our current TNE initiatives. It is likely that this is the space in which new or finessed models will evolve in the short to medium term. There is real opportunity to grow the depth and size of these relationships and certainly, we are looking to this with several partners.

There are many possible variations on the partner model. For example, the University of Arizona has talked about a network of micro-campuses developed in partnership with a range of universities and colleges is one manifestation of this concept. We have many Chinese partners where the students are studying for one of our degrees, spending three years in China and one year in the U.K. The students work with our staff both face-to-face and online and use learning resources developed in partnership. Although they are based at a Chinese University for their first three years, they see themselves as students of two institutions from day one. Our view is that these models offer great opportunities for the future, providing benefit for both students and the in stitutions.

There are many benefits for university and partner in evolving models of TNE and, perhaps more importantly, great potential gains for students. Done well, we can see quality outcomes with a reduced cost of delivery; an opportunity to greatly widen the reach of the university; flexible matching of delivery to users’ must-have requirements; and a real ability to support the wider mission of the university.

2. There are real opportunities for partnership based global delivery of synchronous and asynchronous blended and face-to-face education. With evolving multipoint video conferencing technology and better global broadband provision, the options for real-time online interactions with other students and teachers improves to provide synchronous blending. The concept of asynchronous blending is the idea of periods of online only delivery structurally linked to a period(s) of campus delivery. This is a very flexible approach that, when designed appropriately, could deliver many of the benefits of spending a full three to four years overseas at a dramatically reduced cost for students.

3 I will not spend much time talking about the pure online model. It is self-explanatory and with continued evolution in both the educational technology and perhaps more importantly cultural acceptance of online delivery the opportunities will continue to grow.

THE NEW MODEL  FOR EDUCATION

The emerging commercial global identities of the past five years have been dominated by two characteristics. The first are models that act as a bridge between consumer and provider, Uber and Airbnb being two high-profile examples. The second would be personalization of cost vs.level of service; the budget airline model being a prime example where the basic fare simply gets you from A to B, and everything else is an extra.

Whatever you may think about the ethics of business model that underpins Uber and Airbnb, what they have done very successfully is link a service provider and a consumer in a way that just a few years ago was neither realized or desired. If Uber is a taxi company and Airbnb a new hotel company, what in this model is a university? It depends on what we think the role of higher education provider is, and this again will be nuanced depending on the segment of activity we are talking about: a first undergraduate degree versus a specialist vocationally related PG qualification,for example.

Taking the budget airline analogy, the base price might simply be delivery of the core educational outcomes at the minimum process point possible, and any more is additional. For example, face-to-face tutorials, time on campus, work experience, and/or careers advice would be additional. I recognize that this profoundly challenges many of the notions surrounding a traditional degree.

If we look at a standard degree as an educational journey where we know the starting point, the ending point and the mandatory way-points, could we envisage the role of a global aggregator and integrator of higher education provision? The answer is conceptually yes, but with profound structural and practical barriers.

A global university aggregator would have a range of linked education providers who make available online and blended modules with registration, authentication, education mapping, and records of achievement and revenue collection. But what about issues of quality control, national standards, funding, financial aid and equivalencies? Further, what would this structure do to the incumbent brick and mortar campuses?

Despite these challenges, it does seem possible that a well-run aggregator model will emerge. Whether this focuses on both under and post-graduate delivery or just on the latter is unclear. This is not simply about online provision, if the truly personalized global degree is a desirable outcome then blending, either synchronous or asynchronous could and probably should feature in the educational map we provide our students.

The future of global TNE is exciting and challenging. Existing providers are going to have to work increasingly hard to find new sustainable models. We are optimistic but in no way underestimate the challenges.

—Prof. Iain Martin is the Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, U.K. He has also been Vice President and Deputy Vice Chancellor University of New South Wales in Australia and Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Published in Ideas
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