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Why Context Is the Key to Learning That Drives Performance

Nihal Salah
Sep 10 2020

You know what the difference is between a learning initiative that has a demonstrable impact on performance and one that you can only get a good smile sheet for? 


Think about how world class athletes train. Their coaches always contextualise their training.

That context will include everything from the environment in which they train (e.g weather, training equipment), the drills to what they eat. It’s all about stimulating the experience they’ll have in competition. 

Another reason coaches ensure athletes train in context is because it will make them more comfortable when it’s competition time. And that comfort gives athletes the confidence that they can succeed when it really counts. 

Take the example of a basketball athlete who must be able to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions pretty quickly during a game. A good basketball coach will train these movement patterns that will be used repeatedly during a competition to make the training as specific as possible to the game. This specificity provides context for the environment the athletes will find themselves in when it’s competition time. 

Building High Performing Teams

If we want to drive individual and hence business performance, context is just as important when we design and build corporate learning. 

But how do you build context into learning? And how do you ensure that your people feel comfortable and confident enough to practice and apply what they learn?  

That’s what I asked Rhys Giles, learning leader turned product director at Fuse Universal. 

Rhys joined me for the second session of our L&D Performance Series to talk about the importance of context and how to build it into learning. 

Here's 👇 the recording of the webinar.

Here's what Rhys covered during the session: 

  • How to build learning experiences for how we really learn 
  • Best practices for curating and creating content using modern techniques
  • How to create context that drives active engagement
  • How to create safe spaces for people to practice and get feedback
  • How to make content accessible to support them on the job


Our Favourite Parts of the Conversation 

  • [Rhys Giles 11:30] "I was going to learn to play the piano. But what I needed to do was to be able to create something that would allow me to practice in a safe environment, that would allow me to, you know, have all the knowledge that I need to put that into practice, and then be able to go through this cycle, this messy learning cycle that we actually need."
  • [Rhys Giles 21:59] "If you do really great performance consulting up front, and you understand, you know what people need to do and why they need to do it, then you can understand where they are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, and be able to create content."
  • [Rhys Giles 25:30] "The point of making content bite sized isn't to make it bite sized. It's actually to make it really accessible and easy for people to find the nugget of information that they need in the moment."
  • [Rhys Giles 49:16] "So first of all, make sure that you are creating and curating engaging content in modern techniques as well. The next thing is make sure that we're delivering content in context. So really understand why people want to learn and make sure that you deliver that."

Links We Love ❤️

Say hello 👋 to Rhys and myself on Linkedin 

Check out the first session in the L&D Performance series on how to Design a purposeful learning experience for your people.


*There’s a chance this transcript has a few spelling errors. I use a wonderful transcription tool called Otter. He's usually super accurate but he does get the odd word wrong. But please don’t hold it against him 😊.

[Nihal Salah]  0:05  

Well, hello everyone and welcome to part two of the L&D Performance Series. I can see everyone's trickling in now slowly but surely. Right, so my name is Nihal Salah and I will be your host for today's webinar, and I'm joined by the wonderful Rhys Giles who will be our speaker for the day.


[Rhys Giles]  0:33  

Hi, everyone.


[Nihal Salah]   0:34  

So, we'd love to get to know you all. So drop us a quick hello in the chat. Let us know where you are, where you're watching this from. That's always good fun to see who is where in the world, especially now that so many of us are working remotely. So when you use the chat, just make sure that you select all panellists and attendees. So hello Laura from Yorkshire. We've got Carolyn from Preston. Hello John. Oh, wow compare Australia, hello David. Hi Magda, Birmingham. Hello Anne Marie. Wow! Sweden, West Sussex, Liverpool, Norwich, Leicester. Well, I'm dialling in from Barcelona and Rhys, you are in Wembley, London I believe, aren't you? 


[Rhys Giles]  1:30  

That's correct. Yes, overcast Wembley, London as well. Is it much nicer in Barcelona?


[Nihal Salah]   1:36  

It is actually overcast here. I was in London and I think I bought the UK weather back with me. So they're not very happy with me here in Barcelona now, but welcome everyone. So this is now part two of the L&D Performance Series. And, it's the second of a five part series and today we're going to be talking about how we build learning that keeps your learners coming back and keeps them really actively engaged. But before we jump into introductions and everything, let's go over a little bit of housekeeping. So we will be doing a Q&A at the end of the session. So all you need to do is visit slido.com and use the code build and my colleague Ade is going to post that in the comments. He's very quick, there it is. So you can start asking questions whenever you like. I'll make sure that I'm hovering between zoom and the slido tab. And this webinar will be recorded and available on demand that we will email you the link to it after the webinar. And most importantly, get involved in a conversation. Let's have this, you know, be an interactive session, use the chat and as I said, make sure that you've just got all panellists and attendees selected. So as I mentioned, this is the third time I'm mentioning it. This is part two of a five part series which is called the L&D Performance Series and that first session was all about designing purposeful for learning and how to really get a thorough understanding of your business's needs and of your audience, i.e. your learners, before even thinking about what that learning solution might look like. So we talked a lot about how to ask questions and influence your internal stakeholders to really get that in depth understanding of business goals and challenges. If you missed that first session, do not worry, you can still watch the recording and my colleague Ade will post a link to that in the chat for you as well. And we'll also share that in an email after the session. But today's session is all about connecting those business goals that we talked about in the initial session with the learning experiences you are going to build. So we'll be talking about how to build learning experiences around an active learning framework that really do deliver measurable business results. So I'm gonna stop talking now and hand over to the wonderful Rhys and as I said, just make sure that you’re using the chat and stay engaged throughout the discussion. Over to you, Rhys. 


[Rhys Giles] 4:03  

Thanks very much Nihal. Hello, everybody. So my name is Rhys Giles, Product Director here at Fuse. I've been in the learning industry for around 13, maybe 14 years in various different roles, you can see some of the places that I've worked. I did actually start from the shop floor Carphone Warehouse setting mobile phones in the early or the late 90s, I should say. I'm not that old, the late 90s. You know, when it was really new and effective, and that's a really great introduction. And so really, my career was in a lot of the retail space. But what I really found a passion for through retail has actually been able to coach people. And so, you know, I think what I've actually found from that as well is that, you know, when I went to university as an example, I actually dropped out within the first couple of weeks from the course because I was tired of those traditional methods. And throughout my career, I've been looking at ways to be able to supersede I suppose just be able to deliver knowledge and actually make people be able to take knowledge, put it into context and then be able to actually learn on the job and succeed. And really that's what we're going to be talking about throughout this entire session as well. One of the things that really came out from my time at Dixons Carphone was the idea that experience is everything. And they were talking from a retail perspective, but I actually think this transcends retail models. This is about the experience of everything. And so this applies just as much when it comes to creating an experience for a learner as it does creating a retail experience for a shopper. And something that really underpins a lot of what I think about when it comes to building products as well. I think the last point for me is the most important one, and it's kind of obvious when it gets said, but I don't think we'll be massively treated this way that your living is really messy. It may be linear and the way that you start that journey, you may start from becoming a beginner, and you have a structured process. But really, once you get past that knowledge piece, that's when the mess really begins. Because it's emotional. You know, you have to go through different cycles, you get feedback, you take all that kind of stuff on. And again, we're going to talk more about how we can actually take some of that and bottle that into a framework that you can then relate to, to scale up not just one living experience, but all of your living experiences across the business and create an active learning culture as well. So last to come on, Matt. And so I would like to start by telling you a story of how I actually got into technology in the first place, actually when I was about nine years old. So I was very privileged for Christmas at that time that my dad saw the future and wanted me to get involved in computing, you know, seeing that as a really great way to be able to build a career and bought me that. Very similar looking desktop computer to what you actually see there. The next day, Boxing Day, he came into my room, and then found it all dismantled all over the floor, you know, and for me, this was the first time really I went through a real learning process, because dismantling it and taking it out meant that I understood every single component was part of something. I was actually getting the knowledge, but I was also putting into practice some of that because I had to then put it back together as well. I knew from that experience. It's safe to say that my dad's reaction was a bit like Homer when it comes to Bart, and not necessarily strangled me. I should put that out, you know, he may see this one day and nobody would say anything like that. But certainly he was quite angry. But I think this was a really great early living experience for me as well. Then I suppose the final part of that then, my parents did not know they were doing this, but they also then introduced the coach into my life when it came to computing, which really helped to build up my passion as well. And that was actually my uncle. My uncle was really big into computers at the time, you know, had a real die hard passion for it as well and transferred that to me. So I was hooked, you know, I was intrinsically motivated to want to really learn about technology, every single opportunity that I had. And that really built my love for technology as well. And what I like to do before we go any further, before we really get into things, so I’d love to ask a question and get some answers. Nihal, is that in the chat or where do the answers come from?


[Nihal Salah]  8:26  

Just answers to that question in the chat, that would be absolutely fantastic. And just to maybe make the point that it doesn't have to be something that you learn professionally, it could be something that you have been learning in your personal life. I've been trying to learn volleyball recently, quite unsuccessfully so far, but I'll keep at it.


[Rhys Giles] 8:47

Did you say volleyball?


[Nihal Salah] 8:49 



[Rhys Giles] 8:50

That’s fantastic! Really! 


[Nihal Salah] 8:51 

It is a very hard sport. I didn't realise that. It's very, very technical. It's fantastic but it’s very difficult. I can see Alexander here said camera exposure stacking. Wow, that sounds awesome. Buttermilk fried chicken at home. Oh, Carolyn, you're making me hungry. Learning French and Duolingo, learning a language is always great. New painting technique in art says Anna Marie. How to fix a leaking tap, funny on that one. So my colleague, Ade, learned how to build a house and he built his own house. So it's amazing how you can learn how to do anything you put your mind to. John says he's going to fix the sliding glass door by watching a video online. Yeah. How to render shadow and light in watercolours, basic HTML says Zahra. Ade, how to build a pent roof for my bar in the garden. Well, that's now part two of his project. Martin saying we're freeing Psychology via reflection and reading. David, how to build, how to connect a new webcam not by trial and error and then YouTube. Yep, we always go back to YouTube and then read the instructions. IKEA furniture, try reading the instructions, that fails, no the other way around so I'll try winging it, that fails, and then read the instructions. How to paint a mixer. Creating admin groups on Fuse, says Erica. Francis says pilates teacher training. Wow, that's fascinating. Matt said a brake repair on a bike and John says woodworking, built log storage from scratch with scrap wood with no help. Wow.


[Rhys Giles]  10:52  

Anything when it comes to doing anything physical like that, hats off to you. But I think I'll get somebody to build it for me. But really, the thing is here, but based on everything we've just heard, what's the common theme to this as well as it's not, you know that we all went away and sat through a class. It's not that we all, most of us anyway, went away and sat through a huge amount of videos or some structured learning programme. Actually, the majority of the time if you have a need, you know, or a want, you need to be motivated in some way. And then you go and find that information and then you take just what you need and be able to apply that on the job as such. Yeah, this is how we work and how we learn in our personal lives. Why is it different when we do it in our work lives? You know, it really shouldn't be. And I know, I hope that a lot of you already on this call are going “oh yes, of course, that's fine” today. And so we're really just going to be talking about how we can take some of these things and the things that you're doing and actually apply that back into adult corporate learning as well. And finally, to the last thing that I learned as well, so I have the most fantastic memory from early childhood of a, I think it was New Year's Eve party. My great aunt, or my nan used to play a piano. So she got a piano, actually it’s, you know, this piano that you see here as well. I used to get out on that and the family would gather around and we'd all sing, you know we’re Welsh so of course we all sing. And I'm actually not very good at it. So don't ask. But you know, we would do that, we would gather around and I have great memories. So I've always wanted to be able to learn that. I’ve said it for many, many, many years. And I have an opportunity. My great aunt was actually downsizing and needed to get rid of the piano. So I said that I would take it so she gifted it to me. And so I had this setup, and she gave me a big suitcase full of sheet music as well. You know, so I had what I needed to be able to sit down and start learning and so I thought I was going to be a concert pianist by the end of this, you know, easy. I've got what I need, I've got the tool, you know, I've got the knowledge, you know, in the sheet music and it'd be great. I think it'd be safe to say that it was a little bit more like this instead today, it was actually quite embarrassing. Because, you know, as I was starting to play, I would get the keys wrong all the time. I knew my path, I was sat there like this half the time, you know, not being able to watch TV or whatever it might be. And so I was actually really embarrassed. And what I ended up doing because of that, I actually ended up getting rid of that piano, there was no space for it anymore, and I couldn't move forward.


And so I really felt quite badly about that, I guess, to get to the most, you know, fantastic people, you know, it's in a great home. Actually, you know, that the little girl that had it is glued to play the piano as well. So that's quite satisfying, but not so much for me because I didn't actually, you know, get to learn. So, I decided that I would use a bit of technology and a little bit of time off last year. I was going to learn to play the piano. But what I needed to do was I needed to be able to create something that would allow me to practice in a safe environment, that would allow me to, you know, have all the knowledge that I need to put that into practice, and then be able to go through this cycle, this messy learning cycle that we actually need. And so I bought myself a digital piano, that's the one we can see here as well in the background, it's not just there for posterity, that I do actually use it. I use the app that you see on the screen as well to be able to start to structure the fit. And it was really quite fantastic, actually, because what this app did was it put the music in context, the sheet music that we have there is not new to the island, if I'm honest, you know, and so I didn't really have an interest in that as well. I have the motivation to want to learn to play the piano, but I didn't necessarily have the right context and it didn't engage me and motivate me further as well. What this did was it allowed me to actually play music that I loved. It gave me the goal that you see on screen there as well, I'll get into the point where I can play Bohemian Rhapsody because that's my all time favourite song, big Queen fan. And so what actually happened a couple of weeks ago, after going through this for six months or so, we sat together on a LinkedIn live. And I actually presented that for everybody as well, you can see that picture here. And I didn't play Bohemian Rhapsody actually, I played Somebody to Love because I ended up loving that more actually, when I played it. But this is a really, really messy cycle of me going through that. But what the tool actually allowed me to do was to create a safe space, you know, so I bought the piano, I have the headphones, so I wasn't getting embarrassed. And it allowed me just to repeat that cycle and learn from it. So that's why I'm really excited to be back again. And because I have that safe space that I had set up, and I have the right tools, and I had what I needed in context, that made it more engaging and more relevant to me. And I made a really big step forward and now I've been on LinkedIn and I've actually played a song for somebody, which I think if you said to me 10 months ago, I'd be like that there's no chance that that's ever gonna happen to be honest with you, you know, it's really amazing what you can actually do. 


And so why am I telling you this story? Well, I think it's just to illustrate really, what the process that we actually go through to learn is, and how we can start to bring that back into the corporate environment as well. So, if you think about how you learn, you know, we started off with the knowledge element. So, you know, where do you get that knowledge from? So in my case, the knowledge came from the app that I purchased. But from a corporate perspective, this is all about being able to gather different content types. And we're going to go into more detail about the different steps I talk about now and later on, but it's about making sure that you gather the right information, the right knowledge for people as well. It's then really important that if you want them to be able to consume it, then you need to deliver that knowledge in context and context is hugely important, you know, it's how you're motivated, it’s why you need to do something, you know, understanding people's problems, like we talked about in the first session, and really getting to that point where we understand what the actual issues are, what the gaps are, and we're able to fill that. It means that you can actually create this content in the right context and deliver that to people. If you do that really successfully, and you get the context right, that really starts to allow you to create relevancy. First of all for the learner, because it's personalised to me, because it's not just general knowledge. It's not just a course on communications that I'm taking, it's actually your communication, but in the context of the company lining of the role that I'm in the, you know, the actual individual issues or things that I need to achieve, you know, you're factoring all of that into creating these learning courses as well. And so once you start to deliver that, then you're able to get to that start to comprehend, and you really build that through practice and feedback. So for me, it was about being able to put the headphones on, it was being able to sit there and on the piano and go through this guided course, and then go off from a guided course, and just start playing different sheet music up all the songs I love. And that's really that massive kind of process, you know. In the corporate world, what do we do with this? You know, what do you think from a link technologies perspective, we really kind of only focus on those first two points, when we get to this third point here, which I would argue is the most important part of learning, being able to practice, to get feedback, to reflect, and then to do more practice, and be able to get to that point where you truly understand something, you're starting to build competence is, you know, this is the most important piece. What normally happens in most learning platforms, most environments, is that we give people the knowledge, and then we expect them to go on to the job and suddenly perform. But there's a big gap between that and that is this piece here. And so I think it's really, really important. What can that actually look like? Well, then I'll talk about a couple of techniques and later on as well, you know, we can cover there. And then the final part that then when you start to getting competence is around supporting people on the job, so through performance support, and the really the trick to great performance support is actually factoring in upfront. And we'll talk a little bit more about that in a moment as well. Hopefully, I'm building this app and hopefully, it's actually good if you love it. But it's really that, that's the crux of this as well is that you want to better practice in a safe space and get feedback. And then you want them to go on the job, if they forget that piece of knowledge, because let's be honest, we can't remember everything, then we need to make it really easy for them to be able to find that knowledge, just get that bit that they need, you know, and then be able to apply that back on the job as well. And then what really happens then when you think about that kind of macro learning process, is that there this can be one single programme, it could be a multitude of programmes, but what you're ultimately doing here through this cycle, is you're getting people to start getting the expertise. I want you to go through this cycle and we're not talking a day, we're talking weeks, months more often than not, to be able to get to that level. But once you have that, then you start to create people who are experts in these areas, in these programmes that you put together. But when you've got those experts, they don't complete the cycle. Because what then they don't start doing is they don't contribute into the context as well. So it may be that they're actually having conversations, they are answering questions that people have online as well and they're also creating their own content on top of that, you know. And then really, that's where L&D can scale this model really easily. The more experts that you can create, the more experts can create for you as well. And I think that's a really, really key thing. You get that right, and you give them the tools and the support, you don't have to sit in that centre and have to create all of this content. You're simply giving experts the ability to create their own content. And one of the things that we always talk about at Fuse is democratising learning. And really, I think this is the core of what we actually mean when we say it's how do you as L&D facilitate putting this model in place and allow it to scale on its own.


[Nihal Salah]   21:06  

So Rhys, I mean, what Martin's just said in the chat. Fantastic model, absolutely love this, maybe we could just spend a moment or two, I am conscious of time and want to leave enough time for questions at the end. But to talk a little bit about the role of motivation, because that's a prerequisite for any of this to happen. So maybe if we just talk very briefly about maybe the different types of motivation, how that comes into play in terms of this model, as well.


[Rhys Giles]  21:35  

Sure, we’ll cover it in context as well. But you're absolutely right. To even get into the start of this journey, you need to be motivated in some way. I was motivated from, I was intrinsically motivated to want to do something. I wanted to play the piano, you know, and that really drove me through and that is why I spent two three hours a day sometimes even when I was working on the piano as well. You know, because I have this love for it, and I have this great memory. That isn't the reality of corporate learning. But we know that, not everybody is going to be intrinsically motivated to want to go and be the best that they can be. And, you know, that's not always the reality of what it is, you know, the flip side of intrinsic wants would be an extrinsic need, you know, so where somebody, you are being motivated from an external factor, you know, and you need to go and do something, I think the best example of that probably at the end of the scale is compliance. You know, so compliance happened, we need to be able to do that. You know, I have not met, I think, anybody in my life that said to me, “I really want to sit there and do all these corporate training”. You know, but it is really important that we do it. And the reason why we should consider this as context is because how people are motivated, you need to factor that into how you actually build this learning as well. We're not really going to focus on building individual pieces of content in this session. This is a more macro level view of building the culture, building the agency as such, actually drives all of this as well. But that's really where it factors in, you know, if you do really great performance consulting up front, and you understand, you know what people need to do and why they need to do it, then you can understand where they are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, and be able to create content. Yeah, just give you a quick example of what that might look like. Now, I've always said it with compliance. The problem with compliance is that we try to take everything, you know, the entire law almost in some example, and shove that in front of people as PDF, or, you know, the scoring or something like that. But actually, what is it that they actually do need to know? You know, if we can really get down to that and deliver just the bits that are actually important and relevant to that role in the context of that role actually needs it, the course will be much smaller, and it'll be much easier and more motivating for people to want to go through because everyone that could basically you have to go through it as well. Just one small example. So I'm going to move on to, you know, diving into each of these in a little bit more detail. Any other questions Nihal, before I move on?


[Nihal Salah]   24:10  

Eric is saying dare to make compliance fun and interesting. Accept that challenge, go for it and do report back. No, we don't, we don't have any questions. We don't have any questions for now. So we can crack on.


[Rhys Giles]  24:28  

Okay, brilliant. Okay, so let's take each of these four different circles that we've just talked about, and just go through a little bit more detail in Giles. So let's start with knowledge in the first instance. So the start of your journey has being able to bring knowledge into a programme or into the platform. And there's two different ways you can do that. The first way is creating content. And really the focus here is at the moment, a lot of energy will create that in the old traditional instructional design style. You know, where you will go out to SMEs, you will mine all that information and you're bringing it back in. And then we will spend, you know, quite a large amount of time, let's say, going through that, and actually building a programme out of that. But what some people, you know, who are doing this in a much more efficient way, actually doing is going out to the experts and empowering them, you know, so maybe we are still filming them, or maybe giving them tools to film themselves. But then we're capturing all of this content, digital first, we're allowing people to be interviewed. So you know, the SMEs become the experts, the bigger heads of this particular section of knowledge as well. And so the person you see on screen is Dave, you know, he is the Director Consulting at Fuse. Fantastic mind for when it comes to any kind of learning framework, you know, absolutely fantastic. So really helps me in a lot of areas to put my muddled messy thoughts into into nice boxes, you know, to be able to go and actually speak to Dave and be able to get him to explain how something works is much better than me having to get all of that and then try and make sense of it myself and put it into a different format, and actually probably lose some magic because Dave understands it in context. Whereas I don't in L&D, but I don't always in L&D, you know. And so I think it's really important that we spend more time getting experts into the spotlight, and helping facilitate them, you know, creating videos, creating documents, answering questions, whatever it might be. They’re the people that can actually scale this. And then the second part of that is your internal documents, you already have some of this stuff as well. Now, you know, a lot of people would argue this isn't really going to be engaging, it's probably not, but at the same time, if you don't bring that into the platform, then you have a gap there. And so being able to have expert content that really gives you the context of what you're trying to achieve, and then have PBX or PowerPoint or whatever it might be, that has all that extra information. If I want to go and I'm motivated to go into more, I can find out that information. Making that available in one place is really good, you know, and that the second half of that then is the curation piece. And, you know, so not saying you're gonna curate from Elon Musk, it would be lovely with me if we can all do that. But this really is about going out into all the free resources and the pay for resources that you can have access to, and looking at external experts and external courses. Now, the one thing, the one point I really want to make here is that external courses are always important. They're an important part of equity strategy. But the thing about that is external courses on their own are not going to help any learner. The reason why is because yes, you can learn generic content, no bad example. Communication is great one. LinkedIn learning has the most fantastic courses on communication. I can learn a lot from that. But I still don't have to go back and understand and comprehend how I'm going to communicate in my business, you know, and the conditions in any business are different from business to business. And so you know, being able to create great content is wrapping that context around it. So I can learn communication in a way that makes sense for me, so that I can go and practice it, and I can perform much quicker than having to comprehend that myself. So I suppose really what I'm trying to say here is think of it as a foundation level, it's good to have that. But if you don't have the context and the experts and all the other internal elements on top of that, it's never going to be as successful, you know, as it could be if it was all wrapped together. And then the external experts element of validation about how do you create a drumbeat? You know, so yes, bring some great thought leadership in but thought leadership is always changing. This is a great opportunity to engage your experts in the business by giving them access to really great, you know, cutting edge content from various different thought leaders and having drip fed in a social media site style fashion where things are posted, and it brings them back into the platform. If your experts are on the platform, they might very well answer some questions while they're there as well and on all the other great value added stuff that they can do. So that's a little bit about knowledge. And oh, and sorry, yes, the one final thing actually, because I kind of covered most of this already, but it's really about creating things that are bite sized and usable. I had no, I know bite sizes were overused. You know, I'm not a fan of all the industry buzzwords, I roll my eyes, I'm sure many of you do. But the point of making something bite sized isn't to make it bite sized. It's actually to make it really accessible and easy for people to find the nugget of information that they need in the moment. You know, think of it like this, if you have a big score course, and you have this real nugget of information that somebody really wants to get to, they're going to have to load the score. But first of all, they have to get to the score course, when they get to it, they then have to load it, they have to click through the linear and let's say it's on slide 20 of 25 something like that. People really get to do that or you know, you're going to find this a big drop off rate where people just go, “I can't be bothered, I’ll ask the person next to me”. And the possibility is that person next to them might not give them the answer and then therefore you lost the opportunity. If you break that course down into individual components, where it's easy, it's two minutes for me to watch a video to find that one thing, or, you know, with new technology coming out where you can actually get the snippet of information you need by asking questions, you know, that is the way to really be able to engage people. And we'll talk a little bit more about that and performance support as well.


[Nihal Salah]   30:30  

Just before we move on Rhys, if anyone's got any questions, do feel free to post those on Slido as we go so you can start posting your questions now when we can answer them as we go along. We were gonna leave the last 15 minutes for Q&A, but we can just have the questions come in as we move forward. We've got a question here. Why not expand the concept of curating external courses to external anything and use internal experts to weave that external content into a learning journey.


[Rhys Giles] 31:05  

So, maybe I didn't explain it very well, but that is exactly what I'm suggesting actually. I think you're just spot on with what you're saying there because they are able to weave that context around and it doesn't necessarily need to be that they sit there and they create a huge amount of content, it might actually be that there are just some notes or a small video, you know, an introduction, or, you know, maybe even a summary at the end of each of the different modules that you create. That then allows you to take that context, you know, there might be for the form of top tips, you know, or something similar and really accessible, you know, that you can use so you're absolutely right. I think the point I was trying to make is, while I see from, or have seen in the past is a lot of people just bring the external content in and think because it's got a name on it and a brand that that is going to solve everything and people are just gonna pull from the library, learn and perform, that just doesn't work in my experience. So yes, do do that. Okay, so let's move on to the next bit then which is context. Now, I think I know where they are, I said that practice and feedback is the missing gap. I also think context is hugely important within this. And the reason for that is because this is how you should be able to share that content. So if you have that learning journey that we just spoke about, well, the context of the learner is hugely important. And you know, and it speaks really, to how relevant something is, and then therefore, how likely they are to be engaged in the full learning process rather than simply, you know, taking the knowledge consuming it and then going off and forgetting about it. So really, there's two different sides to it. You know, if you want to click relevancy, you need to think about motivation. And you need to think about the situation that people are in as well. And again, this also comes back to the performance consulting piece that we went through. So if you didn't see that you really do need to see that, go watch that webinar to make more sense of this than a book. Through that performance consultancy piece, you're able to understand why people would potentially want to actually go and do this is it that you know, a need or want, they're actually looking to do if it's a need, you probably need to put a bit more effort into making things easy, bite sized consumable, if it's a want and if it's at an intrinsic one, there like I have with the piano, I'm probably gonna sit down and do a hell of a lot more than the bare minimum, you know, and so you don't have to put so much effort into that as well. And novelization for me, of course, and then the situation aspect of that really comes down to things such as, you know, personal characteristics, traits, those kinds of things. It's what's my performance at the moment, so am I a low performing person or a high performing person? You know, and I suppose it’s sorts of things such as the social context I'm in as well, you know, so I'm asking questions, you know, what am I? What group am I? You know, what department do I sit in? What job role do I have? You know a job role is always a key thing when it comes to creating content and understanding job. If you've been, if you just understood the job role and the motivation people had, and you know that itself creates a certain amount of relevancy. And so this is hugely important in this area to be able to think about that, and then apply that back into the learning. The reason why is because if you can get to the point where you do create really great relevant content in a way that's going to be able to allow you to start to create an active engagement in the platform. Now, active engagement for us, it's very much around, you know, the really value added engagement, where you see conversations happening, you see the great activities where people are pulling and pushing knowledge and experiences into the platform. Yeah, it becomes a self like a cycle, I suppose, where people are able to actually get what they need without L&D always having to be the people in the centre provided that you know, because you're connecting the people with the problem to the people with the answer, you know. The thing I would say here, before we start, is that all engagement is great. You know, it's the same with social media, all engagement is absolutely great, but I'm sure Nihal can talk to this much better than I can, being that marketing pro that she is, you know, but there are certain types of engagement, you know, when you really look for to be able to show you that something is usually successful or not. And so let me run you through this now, I'd love to get Nihal, to get your opinion on this as well. So, you know, think about that more passive style of engagement. That's Fuse, you know, the consumption of content it's liking something, I mean who here, you know, on Facebook, you'd like a lot of stuff, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you you know, you actually really like kale, you're really passionate about it's kind of like um, you know. Those of you that are as old as me or remember putting lol at the end of everything, you know, laugh out loud. I don't remember one time I actually Haha, actually did quite so many things. You know, because actually, I did appreciate it. I did think it was humorous, but I didn't laugh out loud. It's kind of the same thing with course. Now, it's really passive. So it's great that people are liking things, but it's not really something that's indicative of, you know, active engagement, and, you know, real culture of learning, and the same goes for our single, singular passive comments, “wow”, you know, lots of people go down, or “thanks”, or, you know, “I like this”, doesn't really add any value to anybody else in the platform. Then you start to get into a bit more of an interesting area where you know, you need to be able to put a little bit more thought into something as well now, and it's how you then start to bring others into the conversation. So you might want to share a piece of content that you liked on the platform, but you share it really widely. So it needs to be to an entire group of people or community. You don't really think about who this is good for. You just think it's really cool. I'm just going to share with people now then you start to get onto comments. And so commenting here, rather than that single comment is where you are taking part and giving some, you know, a singular comment, that is interesting in the platform, but you're not necessarily taking part in conversations. And then there, you know, on the scale between, you know, the orange, and then the red ones, we're going to go into this at mentioning, you know, so something that we do laughing, or something I do in Facebook, you know, where I have mentioned a lot of people, and that is a really targeted share, you know. I know that this particular person or this small group of people are going to get something out of this as well. And so I will share that with them. And that helps to bring them back into a conversation that is happening on any piece of content or a question that's been asked or something like that. And then really, the other element here is the main, I suppose the top level value add, that's asking questions, providing answers. It's where you have to have the courage to be able to put something into the platform as well, you know, but also the courage to be able to say that I know the answer to this. I'm going to put it in that, it's about facilitating And being part of conversations, or conversations is a great way of actually having great learning being brought into the platform doesn't just have to be content itself, the conversation can be just as important, if not more important, in some cases, because that's how people can start to learn, and, you know, be able to share tips and whatnot. And of course, the pinnacle of that then is generating content. If you create great content, and you have people doing it, you know, without accidentally sitting down going, can you do this? Can you do that? If people are doing off their own back, and it's valuable content, they see there's value in the platform, they see the next value into doing this because nobody has time anymore in their jobs, you know, so to be able to go and do something like that means that they feel that the platform is relevant for them and it's valuable, you know, so, I suppose really what we're trying to get to here is that looking at those things that are in red, that it really starts to allow you to see that there is much more going on in your platform, there is an activity learning culture happening where that cycle that we talked about really is happening. And people are putting in as much as they get out.

[Nihal Salah]   39:08  

I love this model and so does John. Thank you, John for that in the chat, we'd love to hear everyone else's feedback. I'm, as a marketer, I'm a huge fan of this, and I will spend about 30 seconds because I'm conscious that we've got about six minutes left, and that you've got time to get through the rest of your slides, because there's some great stuff in there. But I think the one point I will make is, and I think this is from, you know, from a marketing standpoint, but also from a learning standpoint, is that not everything will always sit on that active end of the spectrum. So, you know, from a marketing example, if I’m sharing an event out, I want people to be able to view it and maybe like it and maybe put passive comments like “yeah, see you there”, and that's more than enough. But if I put out, you know, a blog post or a new video, I want people to engage and have a conversation and share their thoughts and challenge me and critique it, and then it becomes a much more meaningful interaction. So we're not saying that everything should be on that side of the spectrum.


[Rhys Giles]  40:07  

Absolutely, as I said before, you know, all engagement is absolutely relevant. And there's different situations where you want that. But if you look at the macro level view of your learning platform, the more that you see those red things happening, the more likely it is that actually you know, there is a great culture that's developing from this as well and it's an indicator for great content in the right context you know, delivering relevancy for people.


[Nihal Salah]   40:32

Absolutely and I think with the creating content piece, is that once your learners become the teachers, that's when you know they've really mastered that learning, right? Because if you're able to do it, you know, well to teach others, you need to be able to apply it and know that they've really mastered it then.


[Rhys Giles]  40:51

Yeah, that is such an important point as well. That really is you know, if you can demonstrate your comprehension, that is for me one of the pinnacles of understanding whether learning is actually working or not. Okay, so practice and feedback, and you will note how these ones are fairly small. So Nihal, hopefully, we can still do it in a couple of minutes that we've got that. But in terms of practice and feedback, you know, going back to the piano, again, you know, the headphones and all of that creating a safe space where people can fail and fail in comfort and you know, not be embarrassed as I was when I had the big old piano, and also be able to practice it, be able to get that feedback as well. Really, there's two ways I just want to mention here. The first one really is the concept of flipped classrooms. And which again, seems really obvious in today's age, you know, where we have these great platforms that are able to deliver the content and have the knowledge in the context that you actually know already. But really, what we should be doing with events is flipping it on its head, making that a place where you can meet experts, you could go, you can practice these skills, you can develop your comprehension of the particular subject area, and then you know, if you get it wrong, that's fine. You're in a safe space, it doesn't matter but it allows you to also get feedback and it allows you to reflect on that and I think that is one of the most important parts of this. And actually, you know, if we are going to spend money on classroom and training, why don't we spend money in this way, where we can actually help to accelerate the learning process, rather than simply just delivering the knowledge in that way. Because I, you know, again, being that new rebel that I've mentioned right at the start, I just don't understand how that works. I was classroom trained, by the way, so I'm not just this slip, because I'm digital, that I actually was a classroom trainer back in the day, but I think there is a better way to do it. And then the second point then is around task based learning. So something that is not new as such, but I suppose it's never really been picked up mainstream by a lot of the learning providers that I've seen. Now what I mean by task based learning really is allowing people to demonstrate their comprehension of secondary tasks, to be able to go and do when they're back on the job or again in that safe space, you know, and be able to submit that into the system. So you almost get certified or assessed and signed off at least, to say actually, yes, you do understand this, that might be as Nihal said through the ability to create a piece of content that demonstrates that and if you can teach others, then you are certified or, you know, assessed in that area. And this is also another really great way to get feedback. This is the way to do it. This is based, if you can't have the classroom sessions as well, so especially in the COVID era at the moment, that task based learning stuff is really another way to accelerate this process. And then the final one, yes.


[Nihal Salah]   43:36  

Yeah, sorry. But Alexander, just put a really good question here ‘with learner generated content, how do you deal with corporate governance and bad or incorrect learner training?’


[Rhys Giles]  43:50  

Well, there's a couple of, so I get asked this all the time. And actually, I asked this myself when I was at Carphone Warehouse and I brought Fuse in, it was really new, and I did have their compliance department jumping up and down on me about that. I actually challenged them back and said, well you know, the reality is in store when people are mis-selling, you know, you don't know that, but actually enforcing, allowing people to create content, and then having that reviewed, and having that peer reviewed as well, people will be able to report that and say, “well, actually, this isn't right”, you know, and then the cases where people aren't reselling, you'll now know where they are. And you can go and deal with that. And we can have targeted training towards that, you know, that concept applies across the board when it comes to user generated content. It isn't just about putting the content in the system, but it's also teaching the person that's creating it, whether they buy it right or wrong, you know, and then being able to, you know, I suppose push that into the right areas in the right learning as well. And you can also, you know, go a bit more Orwellian if you want to, to you know, and have some kind of sign off system. You know, we have clients ourselves that do that, they put it into a holding place and then sign off and then they post it out. That's another way to do it. But the problem with that sometimes is that it creates a barrier, the user just wants to be able to post it and share it straight away and see that it's actually there to go through the signup process, especially if you're told no, you can't post that, you know, is sometimes a negative and it means that people might not think go and put more content on the platform. I think ultimately, it depends on your culture, about which level of the scale you want to go on that. Do you let it in? And then just manage the things by exception? Or do you, you know, do you check everything? The one overriding thing I would say is that in all of my time, using Fuse as the client, and then being within Fuse, there are so few cases of something bad happening within that area, that it really doesn't outweigh the good use cases of people being able to get their knowledge into the platform. Should more than a learning opportunity.


[Nihal Salah]  45:51  

Yeah. David's brought up a really good point is that you need to create space in the platform for people to have the wrong answer for others to correct it and for everyone to still feel good at the end of the process of collective content creation and curation. I could not agree more with that. Absolutely. Yeah. And I think there's that you learn more when you actually have the opportunity to challenge and debate and I think it gets to the key thing there. It's about creating those safe spaces. Yeah, absolutely!


[Rhys Giles]  46:22  

And it’s honest conversations as well, as they're based on what you're saying is so true, you know, sometimes a difference of opinion is fantastic to be able to see and get people involved and really start to flesh out, you could donate comes from the difference of opinion will come from a breakdown in a process or, you know, everyone has their own view on something that might be guided by misalignment somewhere. And having that within the platform and having a good conversation actually might bear fruit, you know, when it comes to processes, changes and whatnot. So there's lots of different things you can do.


[Nihal Salah]   46:55  

And I will say one thing, I think one of the most just really, I'm reading John's comment, which is he's had similar concerns of course racing. You know, what if people don't like our content or read it poorly? At least this way we know we can change, and they love it. And we never knew. So, you know, with this topic, people creating amazing content and you never see it never get shared. One of the key lessons I've learned over the past year or so has been, you know, perfect is the enemy of progress, put stuff out that lets your people create that content, you know, and you don't want them fiddling with serious compliance content, right? You don't want everyone creating their own version of that at all. But I think we need to accept that people might put something out there that's maybe not 100% correct, or the way we think it should be. But having that conversation and having that open, transparent, safe place where we can have those discussions is really, really important. Yeah, absolutely. Some great comments coming in here. It's great conversation. Thank you all so much for your comments. It’s brilliant. I know we're over running, but it's a great session. Everyone's super engaged. So let's let's crack on with the slides. You know, maybe hanging around with us for another few minutes, that will be absolutely lovely. If not, then you can always watch the last five minutes or so on the, on demand.


[Rhys Giles] 48:16  

Okay, brilliant Yes. So that the final bubble that we had in that model was the performance aspect. So this is now you usually say space, you start to comprehend the knowledge in the context of your job role and your situation. And now you're back out onto the job. And, you know, let's say you're, you know, two, three weeks into it. And you know, you're part of that new process, because don't forget you learn something, you don't necessarily do it next day either. It happens further on down the line. And so performance support is so important to be able to fill the gaps that people have, it might just be the next step in the process. I don't quite remember what to do on this particular screen, or I'm not really sure and you know, what I do when it comes to creating this presentation, just need some guidance. And this is where it's really great to get to jump in and be able just to find that nugget, you know, and really eight users that are the cause well set this beautifully the other day, you know that accessibility is search ability. And that really is that key thing here, and this is why I made that point back when we were talking about creating and curating content around bite size, because this is the reason why you should create bite size. It's not for when they're doing the formal learning journey up front and the foundational knowledge element is actually when they're back on the job. And they just need that, just tell me the next step. Or I just can't quite remember what my top tip was but I know it was worth looking at. I've got to go and sell something, I can't quite remember something about this product. Well, I just need to be able to search for that particular piece of information. You know, so make it short bite sized, make sure it's well described, make sure it's tagged, you know, the easier it is to find, again, the better. And on the flip side of that, because that's really talking about getting people into the platform. But one of the things that performance support that we all have to move towards now is how do we then extend performance, support it to where people actually are? You know, so you might be in Salesforce, and you need to know what the next part of that process is? Do you always just go “I'm going to go onto my learning platform, I'm going to go and find that”, you know, maybe some people will, some people won't as well there, you know, and might again, they might ask that person next and we get the wrong answer, you know. So being able to extend, and whether it's Fuse, like doesn't really matter what platform it is, but you have to extend access and searchability into those platforms. So you can get that content at the moment you actually need it. It's really vital to be able to get people to, you know, to bet that they learn on the job and be able to stop performing to them at the top of their ability. It isn't just about search, but it's also about making sure that, you know, if you need a question answered, and you're in teams, you might want to be able to just ask this in teams or something like that. There's lots of different ways, but I suppose really, the point I'm trying to make is that you learn inside the learning platform, but when you need the performance support, it's not always, it shouldn't always be inside the learning platform. I was a learning technologies manager in the past, my number one problem and thing that I always had to deal with is how do I get people into the platform? Well, if I don't, if I can get the platform to where people actually are, then that's going to give us much more engagement off the bat, you know, much more consumption of content. And what I can add much more value into the system. If we do that in a way that that performance support makes it easy for people to start before going to become experts. Fantastic. So that is the end of the major parts, I'm going to skip because I've got this diagram, I'm gonna skip over this. I'm just going to summarise for you as well. So just the really key points to take away. So first of all, make sure that you are creating and curating engaging content in modern techniques as well. So let's find a way to be able to move past SCORM and old style learning techniques and really engage people in a way that they get engaged outside in the way that you all in all those examples that you talked about, start with fantastic examples. You know, the next thing is make sure that we're delivering content in context. So really understand why people want to learn and make sure that you deliver that. And it may be that you need to do two or three versions of content or a course. Because it may be that you have a course for people who are performing really well, or experts versus, you know, a beginner, you know, really think about that context as well and make sure that comes through. That'll create relevancy, safe spaces that we talked a lot about today. You know, practising feedback is huge. Think about that, that is the missing path and a lot of strategies at the moment. And then making content accessible so that people can actually search and get it while they're on the job in the place that they're actually working and existed, not necessarily just in the learning platform. And that’s it! 


[Nihal Salah]   53:01  

Fantastic Rhys. Thank you so so much. That was a great session. If anyone has any final questions, post them in the chat or in Slido. And while you do that, I will just very briefly talk you through the next session we have on the series, which is all about engagement. So today we talked about kind of passive engagement and active engagement. This next session, which will be hosted by Rhys, and we'll be joined by Shane, who is our community manager at Fuse and one of our fantastic customers James Hampton at Seasalt, Cornwall, we'll be talking about how to really drive that active and purposeful engagement with your audience. So make sure you don't miss that one, that's on Thursday, the 17th of September at the same time. And David would like to see your four circle model back up on the screen again. Yeah, you could just navigate back back to that. And we will, we'll share the recording of the session with you all in an email tomorrow. So you will, you'll have access to all of this then. But if you've got any questions and you want to hang around for a few minutes, we're more than happy to stay on and answer those for you. It's a great model.


[Rhys Giles]  54:22  

It's really funny actually, that this came out of me learning to play the piano and reflected back on that whole experience. Although I've been in the industry for 13 years, and you know that, of course, there are loads of models out there, but I think sometimes they are, they're complicated. Yeah. And they're not easily accessible for people. And I think just putting this together is, it's just the most simplistic way. Yeah, because I'm not academic. As I said, I dropped out of university. I'm not academic, but being able to explain things in really simple ways that really allow people to go, yeah, that inch that feels right to me, you know, I think is really important, and it helps to get the message out there.


[Nihal Salah]   55:02  

Well, thank thank you all so much. Thank you, John. Thank you, David. Thanks Pam and John and everyone who's taken the time to join in. Apologies we ran over but let's continue the discussion. We will share Rhys's LinkedIn profile so make sure you connect with him and we'll see you hopefully on the 17th.


[Rhys Giles]  55:23  

Look forward to it. Thank you everyone.


[Nihal Salah]   55:26  

Take care. Bye!


[Rhys Giles]  55:28


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