If you haven’t already had the pleasure of reading my interview on Why Content Aggregation is NOT the Answer to the Skills Gap with Fuse Product Director Rhys Giles, I highly recommend it. Rhys delivered a lot of insight and helped me to understand why LXPs’ approach to skills is not working to close the skills gap, and how important it is to build a picture as to how learners engage with content on learning platforms.
At the end of our chat about content aggregation, we’d identified some issues and had just begun to solve them when our time was suddenly up. So rather than leave a stone unturned, I sought out the opportunity to speak to Rhys again, in order to continue our conversation and hear his thoughts on how people actually learn, and how Fuse has been built to allow learning teams to facilitate the whole process of learning.
What became clear immediately is that Fuse has invested a lot of time in understanding the user learning experience and its associated workflow. Not surprisingly, I had a lot of questions, so read on to hear this top expert explain how learning actually works in the real world, and how Fuse is complementing the learning experience.
Q: Before we start, I think you said you had a diagram which may help me and our readers put the Fuse theory of learning experience and workflow in perspective. Could you share that with us?
Rhys: Certainly, here it is:
Q: Thanks. This is a great diagram that really illustrates the learning experience and workflow that Fuse is based on. Without being annoyingly linear, can you explain the Fuse take on knowledge, beyond what’s represented in the diagram?
Rhys: As you mentioned, we’re focused on how learning actually works in the real world, and really, that is going beyond general learning requirements and diving into the micro need for knowledge. For us, it’s about looking at how we start with all the different knowledge sources that a company needs, and bringing those together.
We have a content methodology, which allows all of our clients to focus on creating really engaging, modern types of knowledge, and bringing those together through video, internal articles, or even linking to external sites. For example, if there was a great piece of knowledge that sat somewhere in Harvard Business Review, we could bring that knowledge in. Click here to learn more about our content methodology, and how important it is to driving engaged learning.
To add an extra level of detail, it’s important to know that we’re not, for example, starting from 10,000 pieces of content: we're starting from the 200 that actually you really need access to because they help you to do your job. The point being that on other platforms, you have potentially hundreds of thousands of pieces of content. But what people want access to is a more focused number of pieces, with the ability to shrink that down further to just what's actually truly relevant. This is where customers really see the value of Fuse every time they interact with it.
Q: So, if the focus on knowledge is about the creation and contribution, is context about consumption and comprehension?
Rhys: Yes, but as the diagram notes, context is also about understanding, translating and enriching knowledge, and that is where our expertise and AI comes in continually increasingly. In using it more and more over time, we can mine content and create intelligent links and tags within that content. It helps us to understand, for example, more about the subject type and category, and where it might sit within an industry. This is important because knowledge needs context to be relevant to learners. Think of context as the lens through which you access and consume knowledge.
And then we can enrich this content by matching it and delivering it within the right context, which often means delivering it to the right communities focused around job roles, teams, or departments.
Q: On practice and feedback - can you explain it to me in a real world example - what does ‘safe spaces’ really mean?
Rhys: Definitely. Let’s tackle practice first. What you need to actually embed learning is to be able to practice in an environment where you feel at ease. The penny drop moment in understanding this was when I was gifted a piano. Learning the piano is such an intrusion on other people's lives that I ended up not learning! Even though I was motivated, I didn't have the right environment: the safe space.
So, last Christmas, I bought a digital piano and headphones that has allowed me to create the safe space. It has allowed me to practice until I’ve become confident and ready to play out loud (or to perform!)
It’s no different from how people learn within a business. We all need the time and a ‘safe space’ to be able to practice.
Q: And the feedback element?
Rhys: So, we’ve established that to build comprehension, learners need to practice in safe environments. But they also need feedback from those more skilled than them. The Fuse platform’s task-based learning allows structured practice activities on the job, which includes posting evidence into the community, to experts, or into comprehension assessments - all of this is designed to build comprehension and competence.
Q: When we look at the application of learning on the job, how is Fuse supporting it the flow of work?
Rhys: The more opportunities users see to practice and receive good quality feedback, the more they will apply it unsupervised on the job. The application drives competence, which in turn allows better practice and feedback. This leads learners to perform better, and eventually they become experts that can feed into the Fuse engine as those possessing tacit knowledge, which can add context to existing learning.
It’s about contributing through a social context to help fuel the engine and to solve more business problems. What we’ve seen is that this creates a continuous learning culture where Fuse is seen as the place where questions are answered and problems are solved. In this sense it’s truly about democratising learning.
Another point to add here is that when we reach this point, there’s a shift. It’s no longer the remit of the L&D team to do everything. Think about it: you cannot scale a learning strategy that’s going to run across a 250,000 person business with a team of only five or even ten people. You need to be able to set up a facilitator for the strategic initiatives and have the operational units take care of their own learning.
Fuse is about giving companies the tools to do that. We’re empowering learning teams to facilitate the whole process of learning, with engaging knowledge delivered in context, and a way to practice and gain expert feedback to accelerate performance.