Indian mythology is a treasure house of stories with universal themes and messages that are relevant today.
Take for example the story of Arjuna and Ekalavya — two skillful archers from the popular Indian mythological epic Mahabharata, one of the two Sanskrit epic poems of ancient India. Ekalavya, a forest-dwelling self-taught warrior, is a quintessential learner who gives the prince of the land and ace archer Arjuna stiff competition in archery. When Ekalavya is rejected by Guru Dronacharya, the teacher of the princes (to ensure that Prince Arjuna is supreme), he fashions a statue in the likeness of Guru Dronacharya and goes on to learn and excel in archery.
Long before virtual learning became a reality, Ekalavya proved that anyone can learn anytime, anywhere, using any device. What is needed to learn and excel is the ignition of passion.
Providing appropriate role-specific learning is key to employee growth, and enabling the five As of learning (anyone being able to learn anytime, anywhere, using any content delivered on any device) is the key differentiator in creating the “pull” factor for learning. Creating an integrated ecosystem is key to enabling the five As of learning, which requires consideration of the following:
- Access. For midsized and large organizations, moving away from physical learning spaces to enable anytime, anywhere and any-device learning is key to addressing scale and spread of learners.
- Content. In the era of democratized and crowdsourced content, building a content ecosystem to address the fast-changing training needs of the employees is core to the learning strategy of the organization. Off-the-shelf content provided by vendors should be combined with internal content research and development teams and augmented by subject matter experts who ensure that the content is engaging, fresh and relevant at any point.
- Delivery. Delivery of self-learning and instructor-led virtual sessions led by a mix of internal and external expert faculty would provide the right “hook” and urge for learning.
- Infrastructure. Investing in a digital learning platform to drive learning in the form of hands-on studios, connected classrooms and personalized, immersive learning experiences would create the required “pull” factor.
Online learning, however, is only half the learning challenge. In today’s global workplace, setting up dedicated classrooms may not be an easy answer. Ekalavya set up his own virtual education system and learned archery on his own, independent of place and time. He was a self-learner. All he needed was the inspiration of his virtual guru, an idol, not the guru himself. He was the self-driven learner and the best example and precursor to anytime, anywhere learning.
Every learner is not as self-inspired as Ekalavya. A modern learner should be guided by an SME either from the workplace or in a classroom who can curate useful courses, set up periodic assessments, and create sample questions to help the learner self-check and ensure application through various discussions. This would ensure learning transfer, resulting in a higher learning impact.
The key to a successful 5A learning strategy is augmenting online learning strategies with virtual mentors, experimenting with flipped classrooms and combining the following elements to create the right “nudge”:
- Virtual platforms for anytime, anywhere learning and virtual labs for hands-on immersive learning.
- Extensive use of connected classrooms and videoconference technology to encourage face-to face learning and sharing.
- Providing a rich source of organization-specific asynchronous virtual learning offerings including certification and assessment using videos, nanovideos, interactive e-learning, gamified assessments and courses, virtual labs, simulations, peer assessments and collaborative learning.
The one who leverages the learning opportunities, stays true to the path of learning and finds growth opportunities is the one who stays ahead in the race.