Nikolas Kairinos, Founder and CEO, Soffos
Thanks to the great leaps in technology that have been made over the past year, COVID-19 has been no match for the HR departments that have been working tirelessly to ensure that their staff still have the opportunity to upskill, even as they work from home. And now the new year is upon us, although the pandemic is here to stay for the foreseeable future, organizations will be planning ahead to deliver fresh training initiatives.
While COVID-19 is unlikely to deter any plans for learning and development (L&D) in 2021, it also remains true that many e-learning platforms are missing the mark. A staggering 42% of full-time workers in a recent survey commissioned by Soffos.ai state that they find it more difficult to properly engage with learning materials and training courses when they are conducted online. Business leaders should take note, and consider how they can improve their digital efforts.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways that organizations can transform their online learning initiatives this year, to ensure that their staff can succeed, whatever the weather. Here are some tips…
A tailor-made approach
First and foremost, one of the biggest issues with most e-learning platforms, is that they are built to cater to the masses. The problem with this is that the learning materials included often don’t take into account individual differences in learning styles. And whilst some members of your staff might prefer a more straight-forward lecture, or Q&A style when it comes to their learning, naturally, this won’t be right for everyone. E-learning platforms often miss out on the personalization that training leaders are able to deliver during in-person sessions.
The result of resorting to simplistic training schemes that offer a one-size-fits all solution to your organization’s L&D needs will be that staff might struggle to retain what they have learned, or only passively take in information so that it becomes quite difficult to translate into their roles. That’s why it’s important to determine how your individual employees learn best.
A good way of doing this is by asking your employees what they’d like to see from a training programme, or offering a learning style questionnaire to see how they engage best with new material. Then, organizations should take these actionable insights to work, and develop a training plan around them. Often, active learning is the most effective method, and training initiatives that supplement lecture and exam-based learning with online moderated classrooms or videoconferencing Q&As will ensure employees are truly engaging with the material.
Keeping your e-learning platforms personable
One of the most distinctive facets of in-person training initiatives – and perhaps the most important – is that they allow for collaboration, personability, and ultimately, a more ‘Socratic’ style of learning. Not only does this enable active learning and improved retention, but it also helps organizations foster positive relationships with their employees.
Admittedly, it is more difficult to create this sort of collaborative learning environment at a time when we are all working at home in our own bubbles, as it can be easy to treat the learning process as an individual effort, rather than a co-learning experience where all members of staff contribute. Interestingly, employees seem to agree. In the aforementioned Soffos.ai survey, only 19% of workers agreed that online learning software or courses are an effective replacement for in-person teaching.
To remedy this, it would be wise for those delivering training courses to ensure that they check in regularly with employees, and that colleagues are engaged in active discission. Employers with more budget to hand could even invest of state-of-the-art software integrated with natural language processing (NLP) that does all of the hard work for them.
Usually, this works by using voice and text natural language conversation to prompt employees with conversational cues, so that they can discuss learning materials. In this way, employees don’t feel as though they are being formally taught, even though that is actually the case. Especially in the current climate, where social distancing measures and learning initiatives seem to be at odds with one another, NLP software might just be the answer.
Don’t invest without doing your homework
Looking forward, platforms that utilise artificial intelligence (AI) and NLP are only set to grow. Hopefully, this means that the training programmes of today – the ones that consist of huge pre-made libraries that don’t contain any specificity that link to individual employee roles, or references to company language and practices – will finally be on their way out.
The truth is, that if companies get better at investing in products that speak their language, and have their best interests at heart, they are likely to get a much better return on their investment – especially where staff productivity and time spent developing learning materials is concerned.
Increasingly, AI-powered platforms that have the ability to learn continuously from user feedback will be able provide just this – meaning that HR professionals won’t have to work overtime to perfect their learning packages manually.
Further, this technology has the potential to take on company lingo, as well as cultural and regional nuances where needed, so that members of staff can really benefit from a platform that isn’t general or vague in its output, and really put their learning to good work. For example, if an employee doesn’t quite understand some of the information presented to them during training, AI-powered software should be able to re-word its output and make the material easier to take in.
Even though we are likely to have another difficult year ahead, this doesn’t mean that L&D initiatives should have to suffer. Ultimately, the HR sector is in a better position than ever before to make the most of progress made in digital transformation strategies – all that’s left to do is upskill.
Nikolas Kairinos is the chief executive officer and founder of Soffos, the world’s first AI-powered KnowledgeBot. The platform streamlines corporate learning and development (L&D) to deliver seamless professional training for employees.