SumTotal Blog

How to Achieve Effective Learning in the Age of Personalisation

June 26, 2017



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It’s no secret that organisations are struggling to engage people’s interest when it comes to learning and development. Part of the problem is that companies are still running either day-long, generic training sessions or mundane webinars that fail to be effective because they focus on the subject, rather than the learner.

The reality is that technology has changed how we absorb information, and our expectations of the learning experience. People are turning to YouTube, Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), TedTalks, and a host of other channels to find engaging, easy to digest content that is personalised to their particular interests and goals.

Isn’t it time businesses followed suit and overhauled their learning and development programs to correspond to changing consumer habits?

Yes is the answer. And it is easier than ever to do.

All it takes is following these four steps and you will ensure your business is delivering effective learning in the digital age.

1. Make your content relatable

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Everything from online shopping ads to healthcare is increasingly personalised, consumers expect learning content that “speaks” to them; it has to be relatable. Retention is always higher when people experience training where they recognise the players. We use actors in our training videos who portray recognisable characters – perhaps someone who is always doing things wrong, or a manager who is calm under pressure. It’s almost like an episode of “Friends” – you know what each of the characters’ strengths and flaws are. It may sound silly, but this form of learning creates empathy and relatability between the character and the learner and, ultimately, makes the message stick.

2. Keep sessions short

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In between emails, texts, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and more, it’s hardly surprising that our attention is divided and short snippets of content are going to be much more effective than a learning session lasting hours. Through regular testing and surveys, we’ve found that around five minutes is the ideal length for a learning module – long enough to convey an important lesson, and short enough to sustain interest so the facts are retained.

3. Allow self-guided learning

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Companies need to get better at merging personal development with professional development to make the experience more valuable and meaningful for the learner. If, for example, an employee wants to learn about “Time Management,” they should be able to do their own search and then pick and choose from the best books, videos, and courses on the topic – whichever is most suited to their needs and how they like to learn. Learners should be able to read, watch, or listen to content to suit their needs.

The next step for learning providers will be allowing access to public material. We’re moving toward learners being able to curate any form of content through a single platform and gain learning credit for it.

4. Invest in consumer-led technology

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The future of learning isn’t just personalised, it’s also real-time. If you’re a manager dealing with a difficult situation at work, you need have immediate access to information that enables you to solve the problem quickly and effectively.

It’s important to find the right technology partner who offers a truly consumer-led experience and can provide ongoing technical and even strategic support to help you to stay ahead of the latest trends and game-changing functionality – and make it as easy as possible for you and your learners to use.

I’m delighted to say Skillsoft ticks those boxes. Our newest learning platform, Percipio, offers each user their own personalized homepage complete with playlists, recommendations and suggestions all based on the user’s interests. And we use the same elastic search capabilities as Facebook and Netflix – again giving the learner the experience they know and expect from consumer sites.

Simply put – it all boils down to giving a learning experience that puts the individual first.

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