Sure, there was a time when L&D professionals scrambled to produce enough content to keep their training pipelines full. From free online courses to crowdsourced content, there’s so much data out there that reinventing the training wheel with new content (get it?) is no longer needed.
The antidote to the information overload that’s preventing workers from noticing and tracking important information? Contextualization.
What do we mean by contextualization?
The art and science of providing best content in the best format for learning, development and performance.
Lack of contextualization occurs because:
- Flow of information - isn’t as tightly controlled by organizations as it used to be
- Open content market - now workers have unlimited resources to learn on their own
- New expectations for workers - companies expect workers to know more as technology continues to evolve and the half-life of skills are rapidly decreasing
- Increased pace of innovation - innovation requires a different skill set — workers don’t have time for L&D to develop content. They need it ASAP.
- Employees are increasingly overwhelmed - access to more info to sift through and context often gets missed
Instead of adding more content to the mix, L&D and HR pros should focus more on making the data that is already out there more contextualized, and therefore meaningful to learners.
It takes two to make a (learning) thing go right: curation and personalization
- Curation - getting the right content to the right people at the right time. Like it or not, learning is happening everywhere. How can you help workers sift through the overwhelming amount of data coming at them 24/7?
- Personalization - making the information applicable, personal and motivational. With the right culture, crowdsourcing and technology, even mass courses can make learners feel special.
Both elements are needed to ensure learning content is meaningful (and effective).
Content curation: it’s a mindset, not a task
Because learning is happening everywhere at any given time, it’s best for organizations to view curation as a mindset rather than a task. Here are the four ways in which curation can happen, and how heavily organizations should rely on each type:
- Self - employees find the information on their own, with or without input from the organization
- Social - workers learn from shares and insights of peers, social networks and thought leaders
- Machine - systems are used to learn, from LMSs to performance dashboards (anything with an algorithm)
- Traditional - content is pushed out by L&D or HR teams
While it may seem counterintuitive, organizations should rely more on self and social curation than machine and even traditional, with a couple of caveats:
Traditional curation is necessary when:
- Safety or legality is a factor - compliance training isn’t something you want to be learned informally (and potentially incorrectly).
- The message defines the organization - company vision is probably not a good use of crowdsourcing or social learning. Maintain control over the message when it’s universal and your brand’s rep depends on it.
Personalize the process, not the course
Making learning a personal experience seems like a pipe dream when you also need to ensure training is scalable and deployable to different regions, or even countries. But there are a few tools and tricks that can make the experience feel more personal, even if the actual learning content is not.
- Enable learners to self-select their own training and enjoy a level of freedom to learn and develop how they want
- Make sure they know exactly where to find key information for just-in-time learning
- Add ratings and reviews to courses to encourage social proof and social learning
- Include a live Twitter stream in your webinars and workshops so attendees can build on each other’s insights
- Leverage tech, AI and machine learning to help make the experience feel personal
- Recommend related courses based on course history via tagging
- Conduct surveys and short-answer quizzes to obtain data on how learners feel about the content
- Clearly communicate the differences between need-to-know information from nice-to-know information
- For example, you could house all of your need-to-know information in a well-organized content library and your nice-to-know information in the company intranet pages
- Promote specific pieces of content to specific individuals — think job role, management track, client base — how can you tailor training?
The best way to set up workers for success? Set the groundwork with proper onboarding. Inform new hires that they are responsible for their careers and what they learn, but you have many resources in place to help them get there.
When workers have the right learning content and the right motivation, they can achieve what’s necessary to move your business forward. It all starts with including context in your learning strategy.
To learn more about how to add more context to your corporate training, check out the webinar, “Contextualization of Learning Content,” presented by VP and L&D Research Leader at Bersin by Deloitte, Dani Johnson.