Recommendations for More Effective Digital Learning Initiatives
As the global pandemic and its economic aftermath continue to cause uncertainty for businesses and organizations, employees are coming to grips with an unfamiliar work life.
For many, the typical work day is punctuated with new challenges: time-outs for home schooling children; navigating the complexities of sharing a work space with a spouse or partner; ensuring the household’s basic needs are met.
In some places, that struggle even extends to an inability to secure the necessities, including housing, food, and water.
The stress caused by health scares, employment anxiety, and, in many cases, added job responsibilities, can leave even the most resilient employees feeling at their wits’ end.
As L&D professionals begin to rethink their digital learning strategy for this new environment, they are increasingly relying on virtual learning. For the leadership development and training of these newly remote employees, not only are online courses and other digital solutions efficient; they may be the only options available right now.
But getting a return from your investment in online development requires more than just a library full of content on the company intranet.
As with any important learning initiative, an effective leadership-focused digital learning initiative begins with a clear strategy and well-planned tactics.
Consider these 6 ways to maximize the success of your digital learning strategy.
Keys to a Successful Digital Learning Strategy
These recommendations are informed by CCL’s decades of human-centered experiences in researching leadership and developing leaders in diverse industries across the world, including over 20 years of experience working in the technology-driven learning industry. While we developed these 6 strategies for digital learning success in our original white paper before the current crisis, we think these principles still apply and, in fact, are more relevant than ever right now.
Our 6 recommendations to maximize the success of your organization’s digital learning strategy:
1. Embrace the “less is more” principle for online learning.
Right now, many of your people are probably feeling panicked with the chaotic and uncertain state of their home and work lives. What they need is good advice and curation. They don’t need to be shown 10,000 available titles; instead, they need a prescription.
If you have a group that is dealing with immense change and stress, a short, daily dose of video-based learning on resilience tactics could be the right medicine. It will show them you care and can be effective with fewer than 10 minutes a day. At CCL, we have used this downtime to upskill ourselves heavily, starting with an online resilience course that we rolled out to a large part of our organization.
2. Enlist help communicating the plan.
Normally when organizations embark upon a digital learning initiative, it’s important that they gain communications support from the C-suite.
If everyone at your organization is working remotely, it may actually be more possible than usual for the CEO or an executive sponsor to jump onto a call with the team to signal senior buy-in and support of the digital learning strategy. (That’s one of the unexpected benefits of online learning that we’ve recently noticed among our clients.)
Given the current circumstances, your C-suite may be hard to reach right now, though.
If that’s the case, consider writing a brief, heartfelt letter to your organization about the digital learning strategy, what is needed to learn and upskill at this time, and available development options (if you’re the CLO). Or prepare a short draft email and share it with your senior-most leader to send out to the org (if you’re not the CLO).
Regardless, to help your learners stay focused, tie this communication with recommendation #1 above. Direct learners to specific pieces of content and explain why each piece is relevant and timely.
Remember that in a time of crisis, more communication is always better than less. A weekly or monthly email from Learning & Development wouldn’t be out of line.
3. Make leaders into teachers.
The best way to learn something is to teach it. We know this from our personal lives, and CCL brings it to the professional world with intentionality. For example, we revamped our ultra-popular workshop kits (which some of our clients lovingly call “a workshop in a box”) to work for a fully live online audience. With tools like this at their fingertips, you can put your leaders into “teaching mode” with all the tools they need to succeed at delivering a short, skills-oriented virtual workshop.
4. Use learner-centered design.
Learner-centered design, also known as “learning in the flow of work,” takes your learners’ context into consideration. What does your learner’s day look like right now? Can they invest a full day in a live, online training? Probably not – but could they do 4 hours? Quite likely. After delivering hundreds of customized virtual programs for clients around the world, we design our custom virtual learning journeys to be 4 hours, and built around the context and culture of each client organization.
We take a break every hour so that our learners can stretch and get a fresh cup of coffee or tea.
And during our moderated online experiences, an expert responds within 24 hours so that each learner has the freedom to learn anytime in their day. The next day, they come back knowing that their leadership guru has reviewed their submissions and provided expert advice — or asked some coaching questions to further their thinking.
5. Tap into the power of learning partnerships.
Right now, your employees may be feeling more alone than they have ever felt. With any training that you do, tap into the power of learning partnerships. When it’s a part of the training, there is a reason to meet. After they meet the first time, they will find more reasons to stay connected.
When nearly everyone is working from home, it may seem counterintuitive, but now is the time to connect your global employee pool in learning partnerships like never before.
Peer accountability partners can motivate learners to try out new behaviors. Virtual coaches can provide feedback and advice as learners figure out how to apply new skills and ideas.
6. Remember to measure.
Measurement provides data that can be used to refine and strengthen your ongoing efforts and overall digital learning strategy. Metrics, including participation and outcomes, should be built in during the design of the learning initiative.
You’ll want to be able to look back at how you adjusted your approach and what you did to keep the learning fire alive.
When properly designed, delivered, and evaluated, online learning initiatives based on a solid digital learning strategy can change a company’s corporate culture, improve employee engagement, and increase retention.
On the flip side, though, if poorly executed, they can end up as check-the-box corporate initiatives that give virtual learning a bad name.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Leadership skills are more important now than ever before. Make your organization’s digital learning strategy and online development initiatives more effective by using our online leadership training to help your leaders ignite transformational change and navigate the crisis of the moment, while preparing for the changed world that comes next.