How to Win With Your Digital Learning Strategy

Are you looking to use digital technologies as a differentiation within your corporate learning functions? Are you creating the next generation corporate university powered by digital? If yes, then please read on. The framework below is based on multiple years of digging heels hard and grinding away to building a digitally-enabled learning function.

Digital Learning Strategy is less about tools/software, cool content providers, MOOCs, Gamification, or any other single technology. It is more about bringing together methods and approaches that hit a sweet spot that is at the intersection of Marketing, Knowledge Management, and Learning. So what does it look like?

The 4 Es Framework

At the heart of the Digital Learning Strategy are the 4Es — Educating, Engaging, Enabling, and Experiencing. To build a successful digitally motivated learning functions, one has to get these 4 Es working in harmony! Let’s break down these 4Es further.

  • Educating — This is the form that is most appreciated by current learning professionals. It is focused skill building that occurs as an event. Typical approaches include instructor-led classroom, virtual instructor-led classroom, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and other forms such as drip-feed. In most cases, educating is one or more of the above forms of blend.
  • Engaging — This one takes a cue from Digital Marketing techniques. It is typically curating one or more learning nuggets everyday, being out there using contemporary forms (Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, etc.). In today’s world of content explosion and technology powered distraction, we are all competing for consumer mindset, eyeballs, and any form of attention. Justin Bieber or Brangelina break up gets more attention and conversation than an organizational initiative. It is imperative to use these techniques to reinforce learning, shaping culture, and start conversations. Engaging is also “your” market intelligence. It allows you to listen, engage, and grow your learning community there by bringing you closer to a facilitated social learning strategy.
  • Enabling — Most companies have some form of training on being an effective manager (or) hiring the right people. Now just think — you don’t hire people everyday. So the interviewing techniques, questions to ask, behavioral observations to make, and anything else are hard to recall. So you essentially wing the interviewing and end up making a gut call on the person. Assume, your learning system knew you were going to interview and popped in a short refresher prior to the interview — wouldn’t you appreciate? The same can be said about writing goals, giving feedback, coaching, and a lot of other things. Passive Enabling is about making content available with a hope that your consumer will come to it when needed. Active Enabling is about being in front of the learner by deeply understanding their needs (aka Artificial Intelligence and such). Connection Enabling is connecting learners to the appropriate coaches/mentors.
  • Experiencing — Learners are exposed to consumer technologies 24*7. Their frames of references include Facebook, Amazon, BuzzFeed, Twitter, YouTube, and a lot of other emerging innovations/platforms that keeps them hooked on all avenues. Learning has to stay up to those consumer standards. It’s got to be personal, fun, challenging, motivating, social, and contextual. All that wrapped into Desktop/Mobile as well as taking the experience to where the work actually happens. Learning isn’t a destination but it is omnipresent and friction-less that a learner may call upon as needed. The experience has to be highly individual and intimate.This may require you to build a technology ecosystem as I am yet to come across anything that does this with passion.
  • Capability Graph — All of the above initiatives need a common anchor. The skills and capabilities end up being the common anchors for the entire strategy. While you are at it, the capability graph allows you understand insights about your workforce, build content around it, run assessments, and personalize it. The utopia being able to tell how ready is your organization to undertake a transformation or identifying talent pool to connect to critical challenges with in the company.

The above 4Es when activated successfully allow you to build a loyal relationship with your students that goes a long way in bringing focused skill building, ongoing engagement, just-in-time learning within a context provided by your capability model and experience that your learner is actually used to and would love to use to learn and grow.

So now the big question. What have you tried within your organizations? Are there any other approaches that aren’t covered in this article? Let me know your thoughts via the comments box below.

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