All of us are on some kind of a learning path. And the beauty of such paths lies in the fact that each individual’s journey is unique. Every person has their own definitions of comfort and preferences, which is why each one’s learning path is also one of a kind.
The Global Human Capital Trends Report, 2016 revealed that 30% of executives see learning as the primary driver of employee development. Professional growth within the company is possible through customized and blended training programs, which allow employees to learn at their own pace and time.
Traditional training programs, such as a corporate classroom training does not create a journey per se for the learners. Everyone goes through the same curriculum and set of assessments, without any emphasis on the preferred way of learning. Such traditional training programs don’t do enough. Even if the training methodologies adopted are top notch, the training fails to be effective, as information is not retained. This does not justify the huge investment that goes into conducting such training sessions.
The past couple of years have seen organizations adopt online learning as a training option. This is because it has proved to be cost effective, efficient and engaging. However, the biggest mistake made here is not breaking online learning into smaller chunks for learners to remember it and use what they learn. Creating large modules in elearning makes it challenging for learners to retain the information they receive.
The Beneficial Role of a Learning Path
A learning path refers to a set of lessons or interactive content items such as videos, images, assessments and other training materials that are combined together in one compound course. The flexibility or rules of the path can be custom-defined by the instructional designer on the basis of learners’ needs. Specific criteria can be assigned to complete the learning path and get certified or increase knowledge in a particular domain.
Because each learner has his/her own learning style, choice of content and learning space, training will be most effective if it is tailored as per these individual preferences.
Here are the benefits of a learning path:
1. Training becomes more structured
Learning paths give a structure to training programs. A sequenced and structured learning route has many benefits. Firstly, it allows people to learn in smaller, more convenient chunks. Secondly, it empowers the learners by putting them in the driver’s seat and letting them choose what and how they want to learn. Thirdly, it can be customized according to individuals or groups. This creates self-paced learning experiences which makes the entire process more engaging and effective. Learning paths also give the ability to control the order and timeframe in which the courses get assigned and become available.
Learning paths are suitable to a corporate learning environment because it not only helps employees gain critical knowledge in their domain, but also translate it to real-life application. This makes employees more competent and skilled, which reflects in higher productivity and ultimately, higher revenues. The collective advantage of such a system can be huge from an organizational standpoint. With the help of learning paths, employees can learn vital skills, practices and protocols. It is relatively easier to deliver and prevents the loss of costly training knowledge.
2. Learning becomes a continuous process
For leaders everywhere, maintaining productivity of their workforce is a battle they face every single day. Employees need to be kept motivated in order to get the best performance from them. Today’s employees want to learn more and more, provided it is delivered in a way that suits their lifestyle and preferences. Employees do not prefer to stay in organizations that do not invest in their professional development. The lack of attention is also a major factor that screams out for training to be extremely engaging and continuous. Employees also need to be convinced about the benefits of continuous learning through communication and feedback.
Training is not a one-time event. If benefits of a training program such as retention and enhanced skills are to be achieved with high rates of success, learning needs to become continuous. Only when the same information is delivered over and over again in different ways, can it make its mark on the long-term memory of an individual. This can be delivered in smaller chunks on a continuous basis, without burdening the learner with too much information.
Learning paths deliver content over a span of time in an organized manner. Information related to different aspects of the same topic is delivered to the learner in engaging ways, such as short videos, rich images, assessments, push notifications and the like. This ensures that employees do not forget about the training.
3. It ensures continuous feedback
Providing just training is not enough. Employees also need to be told how they are doing. They need to be applauded for great performance and offered guidance in case of low scores. Employee training programs can have assessments or practical application of tests of what has been learned. The performance of each of these levels should be tracked. Regular meetings along with frequent feedback on the performance on various modules can lead to more engagement, enhanced productivity and much higher retention levels. Immediate feedback gives employee the reassurance that are heading in the right direction.
A learning path has various modules and sub-modules within it, the performance of each of which can be tracked and reported in individual and cumulative levels. For example, if there is a course on “Sales Process,” the entire module can be divided into lessons such as prospecting, asking questions, research, presentation skills, closing and follow up. Organizations can track how employees are performing in each of these lessons and/or also see the cumulative score. For example, an employee might have scored well in the prospecting lesson but might not have done well in presentation. All these need to be tracked regularly and simultaneous steps can be taken to improve or applaud performance through feedback. Such a system will not only foster an increase in interest among the employees, but also help them understand their strengths and weaknesses.
4.It fosters a learning culture
Every successful company understands that its greatest asset is its workforce. Without keeping employees happy, success is a distant dream. And today’s workforce demands a culture of growth and feedback. Keeping in tandem with the latest methods to keep employees trained with the right skills is what learning paths boast of. Learning paths not only pushes out content in ways that educate employees, but also keep it fun. It helps progressive companies transform themselves by embracing continuous learning as a culture. Employees that are more actively participating in learning and certifications, are much more satisfied with human resources and display a higher likelihood of staying with the company for long.
Through structured learning paths, organizations can understand where employee’s skills gap lie and close them through nurturing a continuous learning culture. Such a learning culture regularly trains existing employees to satisfy skill demands that arise across the organization. This keeps the internal talent pipeline full and reduces costs associated with traditional training programs. It also helps organizations gain a competitive edge in the market through on-demand learning opportunities. With a healthy learning culture, organizations can engage more often and more effectively with their talent and empower them with skills that benefit them.
Learning paths thus allow a powerful way to guide every employee to success, be it a new hire or an old employee. It can help organizations solve their onboarding woes, and pave the way for effective ongoing training. Learning paths can be created for any kind of training be it on the continuously evolving sales process, product updates or company culture snippets. Such customized journeys provide employees what they need and push them towards higher performance, engagement and business results.