Beyond Videos and Virtual Instructor-Led Training: Embracing Technology to Deliver Learning
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Beyond Videos and Virtual Instructor-Led Training: Embracing Technology to Deliver Learning

Sarah Machin, Head of Talent and Development, Asia Pacific, Chubb
Sarah Machin, Head of Talent and Development, Asia Pacific, Chubb

Sarah Machin, Head of Talent and Development, Asia Pacific, Chubb

The global pandemic saw learning & development (L&D) professionals pivoting quickly to rethink the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of their content delivery. Pre-COVID, people were embracing selfdriven, bite-sized, just-in-time learning. But when the crisis hit, the already underway evolution became a revolution. As traditional classroom learning became impossible, L&D functions had to role model new ways to engage, connect, share and grow.

Most large corporations, including Chubb, that already had the necessary infrastructure were able to weather the storm. With access to technologies to enable virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and a library of online resources to allow self-paced, real-time learning, it was easy for employees to discover, access, and consume information when and where they needed it most.

Through smooth delivery and strong feedback, we have validated the viability of a digital-first approach to learning. The question now is, what’s next? How can we harness this further to realize delivery efficiencies and learner benefits? Here are a few things to think about

Leverage Digital Solutions in a Blended Approach

Eighteen months ago, consensus had it that some learning content could be delivered virtually, but some would always have to be delivered face-to-face (F2F). As time marched on and needs became more pressing, more content has moved from the latter to the former. And as situations improve, L&D professionals have the opportunity to re-think their learning solutions and take ‘blended learning’ to the next level.

I encourage my team to start by thinking about the purpose of each learning intervention, i.e., the ‘why’. Yes, we’re there to upskill — but we’re also there to foster connections, to facilitate idea generation, and to support creative problemsolving. Recreating a F2F intervention digitally is not enough to optimize learning outcomes. We need to think about the tools that will help us achieve the defined purpose and how to make the best use of them. This may involve assigning self-paced resources on the learning management system (LMS) as pre-work, designing our VILT sessions to be as impactful and interactive as possible, and highlighting core learning takeaways in an engaging and digestible way. It can even involve using instant messaging applications to set up small study groups to share reflections post the learning intervention or video applications to record and share success stories.

Data is a powerful asset that can help L&D professionals design impactful learning experiences that align with business needs and support employees to do better work

Another consideration when it comes to outcome optimization is virtual fatigue. Instead of intensive multi-day sessions, we now have multi-week learning journeys. Each journey focuses on a specific topic and requires people to commit only a couple of hours a week. This way, we reduce fatigue due to prolonged virtual engagements, while allowing time for people to digest and experiment with their learnings — building on the learning content by sharing their reflections and experiences with their peers.

Make Data-Based Decisions and Find Exciting Vendors

Data is a powerful asset that can help L&D professionals design impactful learning experiences that align with business needs and support employees to do better work. LMS and digital learning solutions’ data analytics capabilities are quietly evolving as they increasingly focus on outcome-oriented data, as opposed to output-oriented data (e.g. completion numbers). L&D professionals need to capitalize on this; they must build data analytics capabilities within their own teams to drive evidence-based decisionmaking on their investment approach, and they must also build the capability to effectively leverage this data to curate personalized development journeys and deliver meaningful learning outcomes to the business.

Meanwhile, learning providers are not-so-quietly revolutionizing their offerings too. Not only have we seen traditional classroom-based vendors quickly pivot into virtual solutions with great success, even for training programs that are traditionally conducted in-person (presentation skills and executive presence, for instance), but we’ve seen exciting new offerings being developed, especially in the simulation space. While small group activities such as role-plays are classic for a reason, computer-based simulations supported by insightful analytics are set to be a game-changer. Some activities and challenges, especially those requiring a variety of soft and technical skills, need to be experienced to enable learning to stick. And it’s hard to provide a meaningful learning experience that truly mirrors a ‘real-life’ situation in an analog environment. But real-time digital simulations backed by powerful data insights offer learners a detailed, customized perspective on how they handle complex problems. These insights – on topics such as leading a large virtual team or running a business – give learners the opportunity to try new ways of doing things in a safe environment, and give them the confidence to apply their learnings to real-life scenarios.

We have a real opportunity to leverage the learnings from the pandemic environment to raise our game even further and create vibrant learning environments that truly add value - online, offline, everywhere. To do that, we must (1) be smart about how we use digital solutions by taking an outcome-led, data-driven approach and exploring innovative solutions, and (2) be a strategic growth partner to our business leaders by providing more business-aligned, learner-tailored solutions with measurable impact metrics to future-proof our companies for growth.

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