by All About HR podcast host Neelie Verlinden in AIHR Academy, the shift from in-person and instructor-led training to online learning has been greatly accelerated due to the pandemic. In fact, it’s safe to say that now all corporate learning is online.
We couldn’t agree more with her sentiment, that “this type of learning promises better accessibility, higher reach, and more opportunities for different types of learning content.” We are also very familiar with her stat from the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report 2021, which shows that 79% of L&D professionals expect organisations to spend more on online training.
Given the pandemic, and the success of online learning that began long before lockdown, it’s no surprise that L&D leaders don’t expect people to be filing into classrooms by the dozen. But Neelie then goes on to present a perceived conundrum, and it’s safe to say it’s one that puzzles us. She says:
“The problem is that before the pandemic, the bulk of training happened in the form of in-person lessons (about63% of total amount of training). The new training format would require the creation of new content. Companies now face the dilemma of building content of their own, or buying content from third parties.”
Let me ask you this: why is building content of your own or buying it from third parties automatically considered a dilemma? The so-called dilemma can’t be solely cost-driven. Creating in-person learning has never been without associated costs - in fact, paying instructors and having people give up days or even weeks of time for training is quite expensive in comparison to online options. Using budget to pay for third party libraries is also nothing new.
Yet the fear must be very real for companies staring down the barrel of their respective content conundrums. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to content in the shift to blended learning, it’s simple: start here. Read on as we explain our approach to content that drives performance.
Step 1: Don’t Assume Converting Courses to Online Learning Will Cut it
I hate to start with a warning, but this one may save companies a lot of time, budget and heartache. In the move to online learning, it may be tempting to take in-person learning and simply convert it to online versions of the same course-led approach. However, there’s a big problem with that….it doesn’t work!
Take our customer Avon, for example. The company had many LMS platforms globally and the majority of its learning was formal, but the approach to learning was not achieving the desired performance results.
The company began using Fuse and flipped its learning and engagement strategy on its head and today features 75% informal, user-generated online knowledge on the Fuse platform. These aren’t just online versions of what Avon was doing before. It’s concise, relevant knowledge available in the flow of work. And it’s really working to boost the bottom line.
There are so many great results to report from this that you should probably take a look at the Avon case study to absorb them all, but let me convey two:
When Avon analysed different metrics such as completion rates, consumption of content and levels of interaction, the data very clearly showed that it was the frequency with which its beauty entrepreneurs were coming back to the platform that made the biggest difference - this is where the company saw the really dramatic uplifts in business performance.
An incremental increase in monthly visits to the platform - the difference between low frequency (1 to 2 visits per month) and medium frequency (3 to 4 visits per month) - showed dramatic uplifts of +320% in aggregate sales over a 6 month period.
Removing the Fear Factor from Creating Inspiring Content that Creates Engagement
The same team also provides content workshops for companies looking to create their own content, which is a path many of our customers choose as well.
The thing is, regardless of how you want to create your content, there’s no need to look at it as an insurmountable challenge. We’ve got a set of 12 Commandments of Content designed to inspire content for learning that creates an engagement amongst learners that supports higher performance and results in demonstrable company growth.
Simply put, it means content that isn’t dull, that isn’t long, generic and expensive to create. It means relevant, concise content (think videos, podcasts and articles) that quickly answers your questions in the flow of work (true performance support!) It means content that is searchable, and content that will get tacit knowledge outside of the heads of your experts and into the flow of work to turn skills into habits that support higher performance.
SMEs and Tacit Knowledge: The Solution to the Content Dilemma
You may be asking yourself….what kind of content are Avon and other Fuse customers using that’s so effective? It’s a fair question, and the answer is this: tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is that knowledge you get from experience and practice which is truly invaluable, and which doesn’t usually translate very well into course-led learning.
Regardless of whether we create the content or our clients create the content, it’s all very much based on getting tacit knowledge outside of the heads of subject matter experts and into short videos, tutorials or articles. Our method is just like asking people for mentorship and coaching in the workplace, and the added bonus is that it lives on in Fuse for as long as it’s helpful.
Tapping into tacit knowledge is key when it comes to effective content creation for business performance. We’ve written a great blog post about it here, but let me condense why tacit knowledge is so important, and why the way Fuse handles it is so pivotal:
It’s the unrivalled expertise your leaders and experts have gained from past roles and during their time at your company. It’s based on experience and practice - it’s gold dust.
It’s presented specifically, not generically. In Fuse, tacit knowledge is presented concisely and filtered into user-specific communities that have an interest and need for that specific knowledge. It’s applicable to your job and role, and presented in the context of your work.
It’s interesting. We bundle our tacit knowledge up into videos, podcasts and articles, and because it’s based on a specific need that is searched for in the flow of work, users find it relevant and compelling.
We could go on, but instead, we’re going to recommend you read one of our newest ebooks created off the back of research we’ve done with Brandon Hall: Personalised Learning at Scale: Building the Corporate Brain. This should give you a bit more information about why tacit knowledge and personalised learning is so important for performance.
Expect More From Your Third-Party Content Library
Last, but not least, let’s address the fear factor that Neelie flagged when it comes to third-party content libraries.
First off - we get it! A lot of companies part with six-figure budgets only to find that they aren’t getting the value they had envisioned with their third party library. Half the time it’s because the content is too generic and they can’t find what they need.
We’re definitely not telling you not to invest in third-party learning libraries, as actually, we think they can be good resources and they are a valuable part of the L&D community. But we do think that L&D should expect more out of their third-party libraries, and we have, as a company, come up with new technology to extract more value out of them. We’ve written an entire blog post called How to Get Better Value Out of Your Third Party Content Library Investment dedicated to exactly this, so if you’re worried about third-party learning libraries, this is a great resource.
All of this is a lot to digest, but once you let good content lead the way, the sky's the limit. If you’d like to learn more about how to get started with a more effective content strategy, get in touch today.