UK: Learning - Isn’t There An App For That?

Last Updated: 6 February 2015
Article by Neal Harris

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

In an age where there is an App for just about everything, should we scrap everything we have in Learning & Development and start again with an App?

We know the world is changing – you can't get through day without using a really useful App or website. So, to keep our learning current, should we convert all of our workplace learning into something new and Digital? Is it time to throw away our classroom courses?

What do your people really need? Is it possible everything could be delivered by an App?

Of course our learners expect us to update our learning offering to make it right for them, to reflect the latest technology, and 1 in 10 learning assets are already mobile enabled. But before you start your digital revolution, why not take a look at your organisation first, what it needs as a priority and what's the most effective way of delivering on those objectives. Review your current learning offer – where are you spending your budget and what are people choosing in terms of content and delivery method? Ask yourself about:

  • Content – have you got clear objectives and chosen methods for each piece of content to meet your organisational needs?
  • Learner Demographic – what's the profile of your learner and what type of learning works for them? (might apps not even work at all for some types of workforce?) 
  • Culture – what's been effective before, and why?

Perhaps you have some great content that people just don't know about – how effective is your learning brand and marketing?

Horses for courses!

One way of updating your learning without starting from scratch is to review your curriculum through the lens of current learning trends – I've chosen 3:

  1. Personalise – not everyone needs to take the same content: they do different jobs, and learn differently, the appropriate knowledge, skills or attitude may be developed in different ways
    • Review your classroom courses; can you offer sections as WebWorkshops or e-learning alternatives? Modularise your programmes so learners can tailor their learning journey. A variety of methods is useful to meet individual needs
  2.  Get competent – if the point of learning is to get to competence, and someone is already there – do they need to do the learning?
    •  Invest in online testing, assessment and observation upfront – if they've got it skip the learning; if not it'll pinpoint the exact areas for learning to focus on.
  3. Compress time – your workforce may not have time to sit through loads of content or a whole programme 
    • Focus the learning on the key objectives and strip away unnecessary content. Break up long courses into short sections of knowledge gaining online and classroom skills practice taken independently. 

Why not try it for free?

Maybe you're working on your Digital Learning Journey, and want to offer more. Why not recommend learners "Bring Your Own Device" to help bridge the gap between work and learning, after all we're never far from our smartphone. Think about some free content opportunities too, and if IT security is fine and intellectual property rights allow the usage of 3rd party/ publicly available materials:

  1. Use links to industry or professional knowledge websites to access online resources
  2. Encourage informal learning, use workplace social media (such as Yammer) to answer questions, share experiences and resources 
  3. Share relevant Podcasts (e.g. CIPD), YouTube Channels (e.g. Ted Talks) and Apps (e.g. Deloitte iNsight)
  4. Crowd source – get your learners involved in collaborating and share what they find useful

OK, I've done all that, I'll take that App after all...

If you do start out on your digital journey, target your investment in technology that will give you the  best chance of success; maybe start with an audience that are more digitally-inclined, focus on a piece of learning that has a real measurable impact and work with experts to ensure it really  hits the mark. The same rules apply as to any other learning design – know your learners, the objectives, budget context and timeframes. And most importantly, know how it will impact business performance. Apps are great for:

  • Learning remotely or on the go
  • Just in time learning in bite size chunks
  • Games and visual scenarios
  • Embedding and sustaining learning
  • Watching video clips and nuggets of information

So yes,  there are Apps for learning,  and there are some great solutions out there to choose from.  Just don't forget that transformation can be successful in the context of all the other learning assets you currently have and doesn't need to completely replace them.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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