Shared from the 11/19/2019 Financial Review eEdition

Social learning transforms workplaces


Rapid advances in technology and the onset of the digital economy have wrought such dramatic change in virtually every workplace - with the promise of more to come - that organisations are having to invest in reskilling, upskilling or cross - skilling to meet performance objectives. That spells good news for the corporate training and education market and especially for the online learning, or "e-learning", market. Lifelong learning, a well-worn buzz phrase, has now become a real priority for organisations and their employees.

Tom Richardson, CEO of ASX-listed education technology company Janison, developer of online assessment and learning systems, believes there has been a fundamental shift from learning management systems (LMSs) to learner experience platforms (LXPs).

Richardson says companies that understand this seminal shift are moving from rigid "company catalogues of content" to "learner first" personalised learning, user-generated content and curated pathways.

"The future is going to be about social learning for learners, enabling them to create and share content with their peers, leverage the knowledge in the business, and access upskilling and crossskilling opportunities from experts," he says.

"A learner-first approach better engages employees and increases online learning uptake, which is essential if organisations are to build the capabilities of their employees successfully. "It also enables companies to tap into the knowledge of their own staff." Jeff Cobb, the author of Leading the Learning Revolution and co-host of the Leading Learning podcast, says the market for online courses is "clearly becoming more sophisticated". "Learners have a lot more experience with e-learning, and their expectations have risen [and] employers also have much higher expectations," he says.

"And, of course, a number of new approaches and new technologies, from microlearning to artificial intelligence, have come along to change what is possible with online learning."

The lesson of the digital economy is that personalisation trumps a transactional approach and online courses are getting much better at doing just that. Richardson says LXPs place the learner at the centre of in-house learning programs. "An LMS is a platform built for the needs of the business," he explains.

"An LXP is a platform that meets the expectations of a digitally-savvy workforce. People's experience with social media platforms outside work sets their expectation for how they expect to interact with learning technology at work." The key differences between LMSs and LXPs include: LMSs are about the business and LXPs are about the learner;

LMSs are about business rules, compliance and regulation; and, LXPs are about ongoing skills-gap analysis, content discovery, and content recommendations and pathways - the skills employees need to succeed.

The reasons companies are moving from "company catalogues of content" to personalised learning, user-generated content and curated pathways are equally clear.

"Just because the technology enables a company to provide access to 20,000 courses doesn't mean that an employee will be attracted to those courses," Richardson says.

"Personalisation and customer experience matters to consumers in the digital economy and personalised learning is valued in the same way, which is leading to a paradigm shift in the way learning platforms are designed."

A showpiece example of this new approach to online learning is banking and financial services group Suncorp, which wanted to transform its classroom learning environment to a continuous learning culture for its 13,000 staff. Suncorp approached Janison with the goal of increasing the prominence and uptake of corporate learning within the organisation. It wanted solutions that would engage employees, increase uptake through social learning experiences, and encourage self-service and selfguided learning. Learning needed to be available like any other digital customer experience - anywhere, anytime and on any device.

Suncorp wanted to meet the needs of a changing industry: one that demands employees cross-skill and are equipped to work across teams. Staff needed multifaceted core capabilities, allowing them to transcend their role-based job. The resulting platform - Cognita - went live in July 2018, with all data hosted in Australia via the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Cognita was designed to encourage flexible, selfguided learning. Instead of relying on extended face-to-face courses, the platform invites users to self-serve, while in-built machine learning created a "recommendations engine" that behaves much like a personalised Netflix-style streaming service, steering employees to learning they might find interesting or useful. Charmian Fry, Head of Learning at Suncorp, says Cognita can be accessed where and when it makes the best sense for the learner.

"We were really focused on the platform being as self-service as possible; it had to have gamification elements to keep the learning interesting and interactive. We also knew that it had to be simple and intuitive," Fry says. Cognita achieved a 74 per cent voluntary uptake within three months of going live and 95 per cent within the first six months.

See this article in the e-Edition Here