How to Effectively Implement a Modern Learning Experience

by Carl Crisostomo | Posted | Learning

How to Effectively Implement a Modern Learning Experience

You've already started with your "why" driving the modern learning experience you want to create, and you've identified the three key things you need to make a stellar personalized learner experience. Now, it's time to learn how to implement what you've learned. Implementing a new, modern learning experience to your organization can be a daunting task. So where do you start?

It all begins with your learning and performance strategy

Crafting your implementation strategy starts by combining the "why" – your reasons for implementing a revitalized learning experience – with solid best practices of creating a personalized learning experience, and then aligning these strategies with the outcomes you want to achieve.

That means you need to have clear business goals that your learning experiences can contribute to in a meaningful way. Personalized learning boosts employee performance – the two factors are intrinsically linked. Recent research from Brandon Hall Group found that personalized learning is well established at 62 percent of high-performing organizations and that it's being made a priority at 35 percent of other organizations.

Here's an interesting insight to take away from Brandon Hall Group's research: personalized learning doesn't just happen at large organizations, it happens at high-performing organizations. Companies that prioritize the strategy and implementation of personalization as part of the overall talent experience means they recognize that everyone approaches their work in their own unique way. A personalized learning experience allows employees to take charge of their learning needs so that they can bring their best to work, every day.

We've seen the benefits of linking learning and performance here at Saba over and over again: Our customers regularly share with us the strategies that ultimately helped them to become learning culture success stories.

Once you've rolled out your new learning strategy that prioritizes the learning experience, there are a few things you need to do in order to show the impact of your learning programs.

Get the strategies that set your foundation for success

So how do you align and combine your "why" – the foundational aspects of a personalized learner experience – and your desired performance and business outcomes?

Listen in to my third of four Q&A-style chats with David Wentworth, Principal Learning Analyst at Brandon Hall Group, as we discuss further the strategies and details of how to start to implement a modern learning experience and what you need to focus on once you've launched your new program.

In our conversation, you'll hear insights about:

  • How these three factors come together to influence your implementation strategy
  • The role of agility once you've launched your learning program
  • The importance of "quick wins" to demonstrate early return on investment (ROI)

It's time to listen in and learn like you:

Full Transcript

David Wentworth: Hi, and welcome to another of our Audio Blog in the series on Learning Experience. Today, we're going to talk about how to effectively implement a modern learning experience.

I'm David Wentworth, I'm the Principal Learning Analyst here at Brandon Hall Group. I'm joined by Carl Crisostomo, who is the Product Manager for Content at Saba. We are going to talk a little bit about effectively implementing a modern learning experience.

Carl, we spent some time talking about different things about the need for modern learning experience. We've talked about what goes into that experience. We've talked a little bit about measurements. Let's say, you are in an organization and you've got into why it's important, why it's meaningful and you starting to understand what goes into it. What's next? How can you actually roll something like this out? How do you deliver on this?

Carl Crisostomo: It all starts with your strategy. You need to understand why you're implementing this modern learning experience and what outcomes you want to achieve. If you create a learning experience in others, that's driven by individual, team and organizational goals, you're doing this great thing of not only engaging the learners, but you're also driving outcomes and demonstrating learning's impact on those outcomes.

I think, if you want to be really effective at the beginning of your implementation, you need to go out and find your business goals, if you don't have them already.

I recently spoke to one CLO, who got his team to be really familiar with the organization's Annual Report and not only did I give them an idea of what the company wanted to achieve, it also had the side effect of giving them an understanding of the language of their business. His aim with this exercise was to get them to go and look for opportunities, a way in which learning can help the business realize its objectives.

I think that's really the kind of starting point. Once you have those in place, it's then time to kind of focus on the learner, what's in it for them? It needs to be relevant. How does it support what the business wants them to do? How can it help them in their career? How can it help them achieve something aspirational in their personal life?

I think you need to look at the business goals at a starting point and then the goals of the learner and that really starts you off on a nice footing to start that implementation process.

David Wentworth: Yeah. Our research bears out that point of starting with the strategy. As you talked about it, sometimes it sounds like it's just common sense, but only about two-thirds of the companies in our research say that their learning strategy aligns with business objectives. You wonder what their strategy is all about – so that other third of companies – what are they aiming their learning strategy at?

Even more of a challenge, only 40 percent of these companies say that their learning strategy is well-defined. It's often instead this loose collection of thoughts and ideas. The idea is that in order to execute on a learning program or process, it has to become part of the fabric be part of that strategy. In our research at Brandon Hall Group, we found that the companies that align their learning strategies with business objectives and align with learner objectives get feedback on the strategies from both learners and other business stakeholders.

The companies that are doing those things at a strategy level, they're seeing far better impact of their learning on the outcomes that they aim at when compared to the companies that aren't doing those things. Clearly, focusing on the strategy is a huge, important factor.

Then the next thing you brought up is the learner part – focusing on a learner. Again, including learner feedback as part of the strategy is key, and then if you're going to roll out your strategy, it's all about including the learner every step of the way.

We talked a bit in one of the other instances of this Audio Blog about the "what's-in-it-for-me" factor. Do your learners know the goals and outcomes that are expected of the program? Is there a link between the learning and the results they're seeing in their personal and professional objectives? Do they actually get a personalized learning plan where they can actually track their own progress?

Amongst the companies that do those things, in the research that we've done, we asked these companies if their learning is impacting things like time-to-productivity or individual performance, and various other outcomes. Time and time again, the companies that do these things that are outlined in this modern learning experience that we've been describing, are seeing much better results.

Carl Crisostomo: Yeah. I think these strategies set the foundation for success. I think, once you're underway then it's all about being agile. And don't fall into that trap of rolling out your experience and then one day, say one year later, when you're being asked for ROI figures (maybe because you bought some technology to support that experience and you do your first analysis), your ROI outcomes are unfavorable or negligible or simply unavailable. It's about being agile; it's about analyzing the data that you have at hand, which may come from learning technology or other things that you've put in place to gather data.

You need to metaphorically get out from behind your desk and go and speak to people – engage with those learners. That does a great thing, because what it does then is it allows you to start focusing on things, it allows you to start prioritizing and really focusing on things are going great, biggest impact.

I'm a big fan of quick wins, how you can show value in what you're doing and kind of support from within the organization. Any change project or transformation project, there will always be people that want to scuttle what you're doing; it's not often malicious, but people often believe things should go in an alternative direction. It's really, really important to gather data. It could be as simple as our old learning experience had usage levels here and new one that we've rolled out is here. It's a very, very simple piece of data.

But you need to be gathering that information constantly, and most importantly, getting out there and shouting about your successes. That's really, really important if you're going to garner support and put to bed some of the kind of comments that you may hear in terms of people wanted to take you into alternative directions.

David Wentworth: Yes. Typically that alternative direction is usually no direction at all. That's always a challenge to battle back. I think there's one of the other elements of a modern learning experience that's really important in this discussion that often seems to be left for last: We talked a lot about the strategy. We talked about the technology and the delivery, but really, even though you might have a great experience from a delivery standpoint with searchability and personalization, ultimately, that journey leads to interact with some sort of content. It's really important that in this process, organizations think about the content that they have or will have – how they're going to use it, how to include the content, and what should they include?

Carl Crisostomo: Yeah. Well, personally, when I look at a learning experience, I think, "What type of content should people gravitate towards?" I don't guide people in any particular direction, whether it should be a particular content type or whether it should be micro or long-form, because I think it's a case of picking the right type of content for a particular situation.

But I have to say, I was really interested to see your data on learning tools and technology, and which showed video learning right at the top of that tree.

What I will say is that, I think you need to mix it up. That's less about the concept of how people learn. This is instead much about convenience. For instance, if I'm on a train, I like to watch video. If I'm driving, I like to listen to audio. I spend my time in Microsoft Teams, so I'd like content to appear in there.

Yeah, I think it's specific in specific situations. Video is really, really, really popular. I think you really need to mix up the experience, use lots of different modalities to create something that's engaging and rich.

David Wentworth: Yeah. I think that's really the key, is being able to offer a variety of experiences and you mentioned in the research that video is at the top. I think, for the past couple of years, video has been becoming a go-to learning tool; whether it's long-form or short-form, we're seeing a lot of technological advancements within video as far as how searchable it is and how interactive it can be, and it's really becoming the go-to tool for learning. I think that's an important thing to understand too, when you're putting this modern learning strategy together is, what is your approach to video and how you're managing it?

Carl, as you mentioned, it's the variety of interactions, because each thing will help solve the specific challenge for a specific audience in a specific timeframe. When you take all of those things into consideration, that's going to help you figure out what's the best tool and type of content necessary to get you what you're looking for.

We talked a little bit in this section of the Audio Blogs about demonstrating value and we have another Audio Blog that's very focused on measurements of this new learning experience. If you're interested in that demonstrating-value piece, you'll definitely want to check out the Audio Blog on measuring the impact of the modern learning experience. We also have blogs on what makes a good learning experience and also why the learning experience is important, what it means to the business. I highly encourage you to check out the other Audio Blogs in this series. Thank you for joining us.

The Problem with the Learning Experience Today and How to Fix It

Learn how to create a personalized learning experience strategy that delivers real business impact.

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Cover of the book
Cover of the book

The Problem with the Learning Experience Today and How to Fix It

Learn how to create a personalized learning experience strategy that delivers real business impact.

Watch On-Demand

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