The following is an excerpt from Mindspace’s upcoming ebook, The Innovator’s Learning and Development Checklist: How to Create a Culture of Learning, a guide to creating more effective and memorable learning experiences to cultivate a company culture of learning.
You are overwhelmed. You have to create training lessons for five different groups, be an instant expert on topics you’ve never heard of, and still find time to crank out whatever new annual training your industry is suddenly requiring. Even small companies are overburdened with training needs. The average US company has 5.2 L&D staff per 1,000 employees. That doesn’t leave much room for the things you’re really great at—managing and optimizing the learning process.
It’s time to ask whether you’re the best person to be creating all this content. There’s a whole world of field experts at your disposal. If you’re still trying to do everything in-house, you’re probably missing out on opportunities to enhance your training environment and increase employee engagement.
When it comes to presenting industry-standards or highly-specialized knowledge, there’s no reason for your L&D team to reinvent the wheel when expert solutions can easily be implemented. Most learning and development teams don’t have a cyber security expert—so why ask them to create your annual data security training? There are plenty of experts willing to develop those trainings for you—maybe even some within your own company.
The same is true for any number of specialized topics. You already reach out to your subject matter experts to build trainings; curation is simply taking that one step further and empowering your subject matter experts to build the training or share their knowledge directly. But that doesn’t mean throwing the task to the expert and expecting results. Learning and development departments need to manage and facilitate the training to ensure the best results.
Focus on Delivery
As L&D professionals, our job isn’t to be experts on every subject (although it often feels like it). We facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and foster the pursuit of learning within our organizations. Creating effective trainings is only a small part of that goal.
There is an abundance of great knowledge out there; unfortunately, most of it is not being utilized because our employees don’t have easy access or time to explore it. Rather than focusing on creating new content, the most successful L&D teams are focusing on collecting that knowledge and finding innovative and engaging ways to present it to their organization.
At Mindspace, we’re always looking for innovative ways to educate and engage. That’s why our clients come to us to create branded educational experiences and help improve their internal training efforts. One of the most effective ways we help our clients build cultures of learning within their companies is by implementing innovative ways to delivery curated content that makes continuous learning easy for employees.
Chances are you already have some kind of eLearning platform, whether it’s a full-blown LMS or just a Dropbox folder full of training PDFs. I’m also willing to bet you’re not taking full advantage of everything eLearning has to offer your organization.
Most companies see eLearning as a tool for easier access—which it is. But it’s also a tool for individualized access. Every employee in your company has a different need, and your team can’t possibly provide a training to meet them all. However, curation allows you to build an eLearning platform that satisfies a variety of niches and target specific roles with relevant learning paths.
Rather than seeing your eLearning platform as an online classroom, think of it as a knowledge base. Your role is to collect that knowledge and present it in the simplest and most engaging way possible. eLearning provides a means to gather the collective knowledge of experts from all over the world—whether that’s in the form of video lectures, online trainings, collected articles, or even links to interesting Wikipedia pages.
There are over 700 LMS providers with innovative tools to make learning more engaging. If your eLearning platform is just a folder with PDFs, it’s time to upgrade. If you already have a LMS, make sure it allows you to customize the user experience and tailor your content to individuals based on their job positions. The easier it is for employees to access the information on your LMS, the more likely they will see it as a valuable resource rather than an annoying requirement.
Online learning should also mean thinking outside the LMS. There are thousands of online courses being offered every day, from technical certifications to expert-led massive open online courses (MOOCs). In a recent study by the Harvard Business Review, 67% of surveyed MOOC learners said they would apply their learning to their jobs. This is an opportunity for employees to pursue their individual interests or for your team to provide a customized group experience.
If your marketing team is looking to push themselves in new and innovative ways, recruiting an expert to develop a custom training can be very effective yet expensive. Before creating a custom course, investigate sites like Coursera and see what field scholars are offering that may fill the education gap you’re trying to fill. These MOOCs can be even more effective if you set up a time when employees can view lectures together and have one of your trainers lead a discussion around how the material can be incorporated in their individual roles.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or try courses that may not look relevant at first, like philosophy or marketing courses. Including courses from outside of the normal disciplines can force teams to consider problems in entirely new ways, possibly leading to true innovation.
Chances are your company has some form of internal chat system, but you may not have considered its potential for learning. There is an abundance of knowledge available within your company, and social networks make it easy to share that knowledge across departments.
Employees often turn to social solutions when they have a quick question or need to learn how to accomplish something new—it’s basically like asking a neighbor, except now they can ask the neighbor across the hall or across the country. This form of on-the-job information sharing offers great potential for learning. Most employees ask questions because they want to apply the information right away.
Rather than simply introducing a social platform, take the time to foster a learning environment. This could mean structuring your social platform so employees can easily locate subject matter experts, implementing a Wiki or other employee-driven knowledge base, or working with teams to develop employee-led training videos (which you could host on your internal app).
Even small L&D teams can make effective use of social learning. We were recently approached by a company with just two L&D employees looking for an innovative solution to spur communication and knowledge sharing across departments. The company was already using Slack, so we helped them develop a bot that connected individuals across the organization and suggested they discuss a specific topic or insight. To make the experience even more effective, they were encouraged to bring that discussion back to their teams and see how they could apply outside insights into their own role.
There are plenty of times when curated content isn’t an option: Quick, company or product specific informationals. New hire trainings. New product launches. Anything that requires your brand to be embedded in every page needs someone on your team—or a company that specializes in branded, creative trainings, such as Mindspace—to take the lead. For everything else, curating content from industry experts allows your employees to benefit from their knowledge while you get to focus on providing more meaningful engagements with your content. Because great content is only useful if people are actively engaging with it.
Edited by Josh Gordon, Senior Copywriter and Content Strategist at Mindspace
Art by Kristina Wood, Creative Director at Mindspace