What is digital learning in the modern age?

What is digital learning in the modern age?

Digital learning is going on all the time in organisations but half the time people don’t even think of it as learning. Downloading a YouTube tutorial. Reading a LinkedIn article. Sharing challenges with your peer group on Slack. Keeping an eye on Twitter. This is all digital learning. There are, however, huge variations of how engaging, innovative and effective these forms of learning are. So what is digital learning, and how can you implement it in your organisation?

Different types of digital learning

Some businesses have kept their digital learning pretty simple and low key, by using video or eLearning. Video is a hugely popular and effective form of digital learning. Because it’s quick, engaging, visual and taps into something that humans have done and enjoyed for years – storytelling. Video is also great for peer to peer learning. As a result, employees are increasingly sharing video content on internal platforms. Think selfie videos sharing tips on how to overcome certain challenges, for example.
Social learning in any form is huge, because digital enables it. It is widely recognised now that we humans learn best from and with each other and often while doing our jobs. That’s why there has been such an explosion of knowledge sharing, collaborative platforms.
Then there are organisations that have really tested the boundaries of what digital learning can do. Ernst & Young is an example of a company that has been using chat bots and other automated chat programmes for several years. Many more organisations have gone down the AI route and many many more will follow in the coming months and years.

What is digital learning transformation?

Digital transformation is about doing things differently. For example, providing a new service thanks to new tech. Or improving your existing service to meet changing customers needs. And the same rules apply with digital learning transformation. It’s about giving learners the learning they want and need, how they want and need it. But it’s not always a clear cut process. Learners might need a bit of educating about how digital learning could work for them, something that we cover in our next post in this series.
The key is not to replicate what’s been done in the past and just convert that into digital form – ie. dump a load of content online and call it digital. Many organisations have fallen into that trap and it’s why eLearning got such a bad reputation. Instead you need to consider new ways of training your people, digitally.

Embracing digital learning transformation

Learning and Development (L&D) needs to have its customers – learners – at the heart of all learning provisions, digital or otherwise. If there’s a learning need, what’s the best way to meet it? And what is this particular piece of digital learning going to achieve? Every L&D function needs to decide what the learning landscape needs to look like in their organisation. And they need to know what’s on offer.
There is a lot of great digital learning out there that is accessible, interactive and engaging. It often comes in bite sized chunks and employees can choose how they consume it and when they consume. One of the key drivers of digital learning is choice. That’s why asynchronous messaging and learning have become so big, because it enables people to access learning at a time that suits them. Chat bots are great here because they’re always on, always available.

The digital world has changed how we’ve done business.

Ecommerce business now easily provide hyper-personalised communications and products to their clients. Netflix knows what you want to watch next. And marketing emails are now written as if they came from an old friend. But people often overlook how this digital transformation has helped L&D too. We can now offer personalised, targeted learning interventions to our people – when they need it. And that’s another reason why chat bots have become so popular. For employees, it’s like having your own learning mentor, right when you need them – to point you in the right direction or answer any questions you might have.
This all means that L&D are now facilitators and enablers of learning, rather than gatekeepers. It’s L&D’s job to help learners find the learning they want, rather than delivering training courses that L&D think learners want.
So what is digital learning in your organisation? Is it something that L&D hold the lock and key to? Or is it a digital tool that enables your people to work better than they ever have before?
Previous posts in this series: ‘What exactly is Digital Transformation?‘ and ‘Learning & Development’s role in transformation‘
Next up in our digital transformation series: ‘Are learners ready for digital transformation?’

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