As advanced technology continues to push organizations forward, it’s more important than ever to tap into the human-centered capabilities of team members. New technological leaps, including current growth in artificial intelligence, actually shine a light on the importance of human-centered design for training and how to best create virtual learning in the workplace.
With organizations seeking the best way to integrate unprecedented amounts of technological capabilities into their processes, training—from leadership down—must utilize human-centered design in order to have maximal impact. At the center of this is human-centered design for L&D, cultivating connections in the workplace and upskilling/reskilling through deliberate learning and development opportunities.
Class sponsored a webinar with the Association for Talent Development about this topic with industry experts. Here are three key areas identified for human-centered learning and development.
1. Emphasize uniquely human skills around learning
The “Forgetting Curve,” first theorized by Hermann Ebbinghaus, speaks to the speed by which individuals forget information over a span of time. Skilled instructors have learned to incorporate particular training techniques and employee engagement tools in order to reduce the amount of knowledge team members lose over time.
Active teaching methods, including group discussions, practice, and teaching others, have been shown to help individuals retain more knowledge over time than passive methods such as lectures or reading. How can organizations looking to get the most out of their virtual learning in the workplace leverage this?
Avoid self-discovery depositories
Many organizations look to amass a large, searchable library of resources that employees can turn to whenever they need to troubleshoot a problem, acquire a new skill, or explore a new approach to a common issue; however, self-guided learning is a passive endeavor that limits learners to their own chosen paths.
Circumvent slow responses
While producing programs that are pushed out from an organization’s central hub can keep commonality in what’s being created, learning often happens much quicker than an organization’s center can account for. Marcia Nuffer, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of Allspring, explains:
“The reason social learning gets so important […] is you can’t keep up from the center. You can’t only be putting classes out from the center because people are going to be living it and experiencing it. And, by the way, learning from their experience way faster than you can push programs out […] The role of [learning and development] becomes to create containers where people living the experience, struggling with the skills, can […] learn from each other.”
Human interaction locks learning in
An interesting theme of active teaching methods is that they each require human interaction. Whether group discussion, scenario walkthroughs, or teaching others, the need for human-centered design is key. Donna Iacopucci, Chief Operating Officer of Entelechy, notes:
“The topic of human-centered design should really be the central point of everything we are designing—That when you take that human connection out, learning doesn’t stick […] So, as learning experts, all of us need to be thinking about, yes, we need to be innovative with new technologies, but how are we going to bring that technology in and maintain the human connections that are essential to learning?”
Embracing technology and human interaction, together
Just as Iacopucci stated, bringing technology in while maintaining human connections is essential to human-centered design for training. Doing so is vital to effective virtual learning in the workplace.
Nuffer adds, “I think technology can be the glue that holds a continuous experience and integration with the real world together, even as it’s punctuated by moments of time. A classroom where you take a step back, you reflect, you practice, and then you’re back in the fray of your life with something kind of helping you take that into your work.”
An excellent area in which this melding of tech and human connection flourishes, it turns out, is in highly automated processes. Certification training—once seen as a “check box” methodology online where learners have previously self-guided their way through modules with a pass/fail response—has seen upticks in success by folding in mentors and interactive learning.
Iacopucci has seen this experience firsthand, sharing, “It was ‘Let’s just put through certifications. Make them let everybody do it. They can do it all online. They can check a box, somebody can review it who’s the expert in the organization, and everything will be great.’ And what we’re finding is they’re just better at it if they can have a mentor or coach. And that human connection that people are involved in—that component of it, as well.”
Putting knowledge into action
Central to this need for keeping a human-centered design for training that utilizes technology is the insight that knowledge, in a vacuum, is far less impactful than knowledge in action. Implementing creativity and communication moves learning from passive to active and knowledge from moderate retention to high.
Nuffer summarizes, “To problem-solving, to achieve an end, it [isn’t] enough to just know it. You [have] to bring it and make a difference because you know it. Which also involves teaching and bringing others who are not as expert along […] I think it’s better than all the brainstorming exercises in a vacuum because innovation and creativity aren’t just about the ideation, they’re about prototyping and getting something out there […] The more you can bring people together to do that and do it around real work, the more lasting the skills.”
Discovering ways to engage in real-time, collaborative action elevates virtual learning in the workplace. There are numerous ways learning and development exercises can tap into this approach.
Iacopucci points to a particular method her team has seen success with, adding, “We’re also finding we do more around simulations, bringing in creating and bringing in simulations that mirror the world so that […] having them communicate more and really practice with real-life examples becomes even more important […] It is so critical to a successful learning engagement for there to be that level of integration and communication for the success of implementation and retention of the skills that we’re talking about.”
The future of human-centered design
My colleague Jason Bedford, Senior Vice President of Education at Class, has stated, “Our business strategies are carried forward with people, and employee-centric means that we’re bringing others with us. We care that the communication and the learning that needs to happen to accomplish those goals are organizational priorities that we all carry forward, and we have in-person and virtual spaces that help us do that in new and better ways than ever before.”
I agree. Human-centered design for L&D is about bringing people forward with your organization’s progress. Is your organization looking for the perfect partnership to bring your people and your technology forward successfully? Reach out today to find out more! Want to hear these industry experts’ full thoughts on this important topic? Check out the complete webinar recording here.