The growing proportion of employees—and therefore learners—who are digital natives is transforming the face of eLearning. In February, Skillsoft will release new business-skills content for customers worldwide that embraces these changes.
It’s not only younger learners who expect a different approach to eLearning, according to Apratim Purakayastha, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Skillsoft. “We do believe that there’s a new class of users coming into the workplace. Users that are coming into the workplace—and also existing users conditioned by consumer user experiences—want much more short, video-based content,” Purakayastha said.
Gone are the days of multi-day in-person seminars; that shift began a decade ago. Now the early waves of eLearning—six-hour courses, 30-minute videos—are getting their pink slips as well. They are making way for snappy, interactive, engaging eLearning.
Skillsoft’s new business skills content—242 courses in all—is launching in February on its Skillport platform, and will include a wealth of videos that run anywhere from two minutes to about seven minutes. “You can actually do bite-size microlearning,” Purakayastha said. The launch, just the first step on a road map that will ultimately lead to updating all Skillsoft content (leadership training and IT skills are up next), reflects the goal of “right-sizing the content for the modern learner,” he said.
Repackaging content in shorter “bites” is just one aspect of the update. “The second aspect is actually refreshing the content from an aesthetics perspective,” Purakayastha said. Rather than old-school videos of a talking head on screen, the content includes animations, scenario-based learning activities, and access to a continually updated library of books and resources in mobile-friendly formats. A preview of the content included branching scenarios where learners got instant feedback on their choices and the opportunity to try out several approaches to solving a problem. Presentations ranged from one person or a panel of experts delivering short talks—some noticeably more comfortable in front of the camera than others—to simple animations. A “course” consists of several videos, books, and activities that can be consumed in short “bites” but that add up to a coherent package.
Accessibility is front and center; it’s mentioned in the demo, on the website—and, naturally, built into the content. “We have focused tremendously on accessibility over the last year or so,” Purakayastha said. Each of the thousands of videos in the business-skills library includes accessibility features, such as audio descriptions and transcripts, for example.
Next-generation learning platform debuting in May
In addition to updating content, Skillsoft is preparing to launch, at the end of May 2017, a new cloud-based content delivery and learning platform: Percipio.
“Percipio is not the next version of Skillport; Percipio is a completely new reimagination. It is a new platform,” Purakayastha said, emphasizing that there is not a one-to-one transfer of features. Skillsoft will continue to support Skillport users, and, he expects, many will migrate over time to the new platform.
“Percipio is a very, very consumer-centric, personalized learning user experience. It begins in a personalized homepage, where you’ll have favorites, popular channels, recommended learning, and so forth,” Purakayastha said. Learners can set and track goals, follow custom learning paths, and take a variety of assessments. They will interact with a collection of highly curated, personalized channels, he said, not a mass of “content thrown at you.” The “state-of-the-art search engine, which will let you discover content very quickly,” and the redesigned look and feel aim to appeal to modern learners. Percipio is also “one of the most accessible platforms” that will be on the market, according to Purakayastha.
Content on both Skillport and Percipio is designed responsively and available anywhere, enabling learners to access it when and where they need it. This reflects the way today’s employees consume learning—actually, the way today’s employees consume all kinds of digital content. Learners need content that is not locked into an office computer or LMS but is available for use on multiple devices. Responsive design and built-in accessibility support those learner needs. Eventually, the content will also be available on apps, Purakayastha said.While heavily consumer-focused, Percipio offers features geared toward learners’ managers as well—an operations dashboard lets managers track progress and identify ways to increase individual learners’ content use. The goal is to change the way learners engage with eLearning, improving results in the process.