“Corporate learning” still conjures up images of boring videos and old-school lectures, but companies are starting to catch a new wave. As a learning design expert, I have heard from several HR leaders who say old-fashioned training programs are no longer cutting it. More companies view better learning experiences as a competitive advantage. They’re moving beyond bad acting and cheesy graphics to design engaging digital content that arms employees with the skills necessary for the jobs that need to be done.
Here are three phrases to drop from your vocabulary if you’ve set your sights on building a modern learning culture.
- “Read the training manual”
The competencies that make an employee great can’t always be found in the company manual. It’s time to think beyond the book. In fact, it’s time to think beyond the workplace.
The definition of competencies that are required to succeed in today’s workplace can’t be a one-way conversation. There must be mutual guidance and ongoing conversations between business leaders and universities to ensure a successful foundation for current workers and future candidates. Companies who pursue academic partnerships, such as those formed between Starbucks and Arizona State University or AT&T and Georgia Tech, will be better equipped to support internal staff with ongoing learning and development, while simultaneously building a pipeline for future employees with the right skill sets.
The alignment of learning objectives and assessments to improve learning outcomes should give the next generation of professionals a chance to excel in a new corporate frontier. Making sound decisions and investments requires a solid understanding of those needs, associated behaviors and underlying motivations.
In a recent report from Burning Glass, “The Human Factor: The Hard Time Employers Have Finding Soft Skills,” we learn that soft skills are overlooked in the development of training. “These gaps represent skills that are not covered in traditional training programs, but which are still critical to performance.” Social learning settings foster soft-skill education through practice.
- “No need for LinkedIn”
Businesses know that individuals can be powerful brand ambassadors. The proliferation of social media helped many companies leapfrog traditional media and forge relationships directly with their customers. The best brands would now only invest in campaigns that are shareable.
Great learning design considers the learner’s desire to display their accomplishments online because education can be an extension of the learner’s personal brand. Microlearning credentials, displayed as digital badges, carry much more value if learners can publicly share on social channels. Rather than a share just being something they like online, the learning experience that they can share defines them. This is easily done with a tool like Credly, a badging platform that is focused on building the currency for the global marketplace of knowledge and skills.
- “Degree required”
While emphasizing the bare minimum might be helpful in narrowing the hiring process, you should encourage a lifelong approach to learning that goes beyond any specific degree.
The best corporate learning programs center as much on the first certificate or badge, as the pathway to a series of credentials that can be accumulated throughout one’s career. Companies are using learning technology providers like Degreed or Salesforce Trailhead that encourage employees to continue learning with profiles that let them show off their skills and accomplishments. The companies that can see past the usual digital onboarding program for new employees are realizing that true value comes from providing ongoing opportunities to learn.
Whitney Kilgore is co-founder and chief academic officer at iDesign, an instructional design firm based in Dallas.
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