Published: Sep 24, 2018
Time to read: 7mins
Category: Learning

4 Pillars of Modern Learning for an Innovative Employee Experience

Compounded by the competitiveness of recruiting and retaining top talent, business leaders and HR managers face a common source of stress: the overwhelming pressure to keep up with change. And if that’s you, you’re definitely not alone.

Fluctuating trends in talent management processes and shifts in talent goals have typically been disconnected—flying solo with no common thread. But in reality, they are connected. And what weaves them together is learning. That’s what it takes to adopt and adapt to change. And today, it informs the very definition of the employee experience.

Employees are driving the evolution, too. They want more from their learning experience. They want to gain knowledge on their own time. At their preferred pace. And through ways that support their learning style. Cue the rise of modern learning.

We asked Jim Lundy, Aragon Research founder, CEO, and lead analyst, to share his insights on the state of modern learning. And in particular, the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and video learning in the modern workplace.

A modern learning experience—when done right—is so impactful that it can make a difference in how long an employee stays with a company. —

Recommended related reading: 'The 13 Must-Have Features of a Learning Management'

What Defines the Modern Learning Journey?

Historically, workplace learning focused on traditional employee training and development, with activity-centric measures like transcripts and courses completed. Recently, organizational learning strategies are increasingly driven by desired learning outcomes—that is, the skills, knowledge, and behaviors the organization wanted employees to build—rather than by how to best administer employee training.

Rather than driving learners into and through courses, many learning managers are wondering, How do I deliver great knowledge just in time to deepen the employee experience?

You can modernize your approach by developing learning strategies that shift your training content from episodic and broad to content that’s concerted and individualized.

Hallmarks of the modern learning journey include

  • Interactive learning – A philosophy that integrates technology, content, and culture and harnesses methods like social learning communities—empowering users to share ideas through collaborative learning.
  • Diverse content from multiple sources – Internal, user-generated, and externally purchased content converge, creating a dynamic learning experience.

Nexus of Modern Learning Modalities

Modern learning strategies demand modern technologies. They employ AI and dynamic eLearning to inspire users, increase employee engagement, and offer open access to self-managed learning.

To that end, enterprise HR leaders and learning managers are beginning to embrace these modern learning modes and incorporate them into their L&D programs.

Aragon Research's diagram showing modern learning infused with Artificial Intelligence at the edge
Modern Learning Infused with Artificial Intelligence at the Edge. Source: The Aragon Research Globe for Corporate Learning, 2018

Performing as a background layer, AI works to continuously fabricate a comprehensive web of niche technologies that play a role in developing the next wave of modern learning.

Here are 4 pillars of modern learning technology that we believe are changing the landscape of L&D—and, in turn, can deliver a progressive and innovative employee experience.

1. Video Content

Learners are absorbing knowledge through video content at higher rates than ever before. And much of it is watched and shared on social media.

While users do watch videos for entertainment purposes, educational content such as demos, tutorials, and how-to videos, are reaching the top of the most-viewed category list. Google’s latest statistics report that how-to videos are one of the top 4 YouTube categories users watch—and growing over 70% each year. Even a broad YouTube search for the term tutorial yields over 1,140,000,000 results.

So what does this voluntary consumption of video content mean for the corporate learning industry? It means that people want knowledge and learning on demand and just in time.

Video learning is a natural complement to these learner preferences. And what provides learning managers even more value is its ability to improve content retention. Your everyday learner is capable of retaining up to 80% of video content for an average of 30 days. Higher rates of visual recall support the association between learner needs, learning outcomes, and your business goals.

Bottom line: Learners want quick, digestible knowledge and businesses want faster learning outcomes. Great news—video content enables both.

2. Artificial Intelligence

It’s a buzzword you probably hear often.

But many people might not know exactly what AI is, how AI works, and why AI is important. Worse, many might accept common myths unknowingly.

But just as companies are adopting AI in support of operations or other business needs, they’re also establishing meaningful employee learning experiences through

  • Voice integration – Enabling users to learn hands free with voice-to-text capabilities.
  • Mobile learning – It’s on demand. Real-time. And allows flexible learning patterns. Employees on the go, such as service and sales professionals, nurses, and others who don’t sit at desks or workstations, need training they can access anywhere.

    For example, in food service, new associates need to be trained on safe use of kitchen equipment or appropriate customer service skills. And devices with video-based microlearning courses enable this kind of on-the-go training.
  • Digital learning assistants – Capitalizing on voice technology, learning assistants let you solve everyday problems and perform complex tasks. And as these types of assistants help with job placement, recruiting, and training needs, the addition of machine learning is transforming them into important agents of knowledge sharing in communities.

    Basic question-and-answer chatbots are the primary types of digital learning assistants today. In our 2018 Globe for Corporate Learning, Aragon predicted that more advanced models and capabilities will be commonplace by 2021.

Among other advantages, AI technologies offer a means for companies to better support self-directed learning—and thereby empower employees to manage their own learning journey.

3. User-Generated Information

Learning and development managers are also finding new sources for learning content. As with video, widespread social media use means employees are exceptionally comfortable with creating and sharing their own content.

Because the modern learning model supports collaborative learning, user-generated content—facilitated through a content authoring platform—can be a useful approach to employee development.

And the most valuable outcome you’ll gain? Content created based on employee needs that delivers deep knowledge.

Downloadable related reading: 'Our Creator-Centric Future: How to Build Effective Learning Programs in a World Where Everyone Is a Creator'

4. Predictive Analytics

Employee engagement is a top priority for leaders applying the modern learning model, and emerging trends—like predictive analytics—help them to adapt their eLearning offerings to reach that goal.

Video content can generate rich user data beyond basic behavior (e.g., tracking time spent on page). With video—as opposed to written content—comprehensive video analytics can expose how long a video was watched, geographies from which the video was watched, and which scenes were the most popular.

For example, pinpointing the exact moment users skip content may reveal learner preferences for content length and delivery style (think interactive demos, scenarios and simulations, or talking heads).

Over time, predictive models allow you to exploit these historical patterns to anticipate future learner behavior and opportunities, and to predict how well new learning content will deliver the outcomes you need.

Learning’s Next Wave on the Horizon

Experts have their eye on other technologies that may advance learning and business value even further—exciting innovations like deep learning, a subset of machine learning.

As we track forthcoming trends and innovations, now is the time to explore and augment your learning program with these four pillars of the modern learning journey.

Your employees will thank you for it.

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