A recent Sydney Morning Herald article was rightly critical of the ‘corporate sheep dipping’ approach to online compliance training in organisations. What is ‘corporate sheep dipping’? This means having employees (the sheep) complete an online module, click a few questions or keep clicking until the right answer appears. The employee is now considered to be trained in appropriate workplace behaviour. Or are they?
It’s not possible for such content to do anything other than tick a box to show employees have been informed. It is an example of a poor use of technology with an eye to managing risk rather than using creativity and innovation to properly engage and educate staff.
So how do organisations move beyond the ‘sheep dip’ and into a culture of genuine growth and learning?
The first step toward delivering meaningful learning has to be the creation of a learning culture within an organisation. And it needs to come from the top. The organisations that do it best have a mandate for innovation.
In an organisation that values learning and encourages genuine engagement, staff are more likely to value, and benefit from that learning and feed those benefits back into the organisational culture. And we know that the best organisations will always attract and retain the best talent.
Check out this great article from the Harvard Business Review that looks at the link between successful organisations and and a culture of learning. It also addresses how to foster that culture. And if you happen to part of an organisation that is not quite there yet, perhaps it’s time to start the conversation.
Teachers have long understood the need to apply learning in different ways. How would you teach a child to count to 10? Count apples, count fingers, have them repeat it. Make them the ‘expert’ and have them teach a younger sibling. It is the same task applied in different ways to cement understanding.
Questions, feedback, well organised content and small chunks of learning have long been recognised by behavioural psychologists as key components to effective learning.
Having staff sit through an hour long lunchtime session with little or no engagement, or watching the same session in an hour long video format meets none of these criteria. And whilst those faces look like they might be listening they are just as likely to be planning the dinner menu.
So why not apply tested learning principles in the workplace and take a leaf out of the school teacher’s play book? Keep your training sessions interactive, whether they are live or online. Once the training session is complete, have your learners share learning with a team, become subject matter experts, or complete follow up applied learning tasks. Turn learners into teachers and have them compile a video to summarise and share the learning experience. There are so many creative ways to apply learning and keep it developing.
We have previously blogged about the flip the classroom model where learners undertake online training prior to a live classroom experience. This then makes the live training all about troubleshooting and applied learning. It makes for an enriched ‘classroom’ experience and makes the most of the face to face time. You can see Salman Khan’s Ted Talk here.
Khan’s key focus is on not leaving anyone behind. Everyone will learn at a different pace, will come to the table with different experience and knowledge and may be reluctant to reveal gaps in that knowledge. This reluctance is particularly prevalent in a professional environment.
Blended learning which means delivering online content to bolster the face to face learning, provides the opportunity to ‘top up’ learning before or after a live session. So students can complete content before the session but also access resources at any time after the session.
Heard of Wootube? This is another example of the power of video as a follow up learning tool (and highly recommended if you are a parent trying to help your primary schooler with their maths homework)!
Neither Khan nor Woo are making the online content over complicated or are focussing on unnecessary high end production. It is all about quality, accessible content delivered when the student needs to access it.
Technology doesn’t need to replace all live learning but it can certainly enhance and extend that learning.
We now have so much in our learning design tool kit, with endless ideas, research and resources at our fingertips and incredible technology in our back pockets!
Would you like some further reading?
Check out our post on how to use interactive video to create follow up material for learners. You can read the article here.
Written by Liz Kollias.
Lawyer | Writer | Part of the VidVersity team | 10 year in online learning