The dictionary says that a macédoine is a confused mixture or, more gently, a medley. You probably don’t really want a confused mixture of content and delivery methods but during the transition to whatever-comes-next you will want some kind of understandable structure—for your own sanity and for the sake of generating engagement, for being able to analyze whether your approach is working, and for providing continuity.
The first article in this Post-Pandemic World series dealt with the challenge of upskilling the workforce to support changes in business objectives and necessary skillsets. In it, Joe Miller pointed out how upskilling is important to development of mastery and competence, both of which are goal-oriented outcomes with higher stakes. It will continue to be important to maintain upskilling as those outcomes evolve.
Adding some structure
But there’s more than upskilling to be done as business and the world begin to emerge from the pandemic. The emergence will not happen overnight, and it will not happen at the same pace everywhere, or for all employees at all levels.
This article is about three groups of people, their situations, their needs, and your plans:
- Knowledge workers
- Frontline workers
Knowledge workers are the ones who have mainly been working from home. As the pandemic eases, will they remain at home, will some return to the office, or will they be in some hybrid or flexible combination? Your objectives are to maintain their alignment with business objectives as these continue to change, to maintain their connection to the organization, and to maintain and improve the corporate culture that sustains the organization. Upskilling continues to be important to maintaining their commitment, motivation, and productivity. For new hires, onboarding is more important than ever, and it needs to consist of more than a short-term introduction in order to position them in the corporate culture.
Many frontline workers may be returning to the workplace, so this is the second group for which onboarding is a critical activity. Objectives for this group will include updating them on how their jobs have changed, new (and changing) safety and health protocols, and any job-related reskilling and upskilling. Another important objective is reducing employee turnover; supervisors need to pay attention to employee concerns as well as know-how to reframe situations. A key question, especially for multi-location organizations, is to evaluate the details of relaxation of masking and distancing rules and how they affect your training plans, in terms of geographic location and numbers. This affects both the content of the training, and its delivery. Safety and health are important topics, especially as the virus continues to surge, abate, and return. Frontline workers will also need to have the skills to deal with unhappy and argumentative customers who do not wish to comply with those protocols, and dealing with potentially disruptive or even violent customers and clients. Classic customer service training may no longer match what is needed.
Customers are also returning to a different world. How will you support the need of workers to reset expectations and help customers understand the changes and accept them? How have your customers changed? Where are your customers? Are they physically on your premises, or are they at home, or in their own workplace? Are they “everywhere”? Your objectives with customers include retention.
Once you have assessed the locations, situations, and needs of these three groups, the next part of your planning should involve how you will execute. As states and cities open up, your delivery options will change but they will not change in the same way across the board. In all likelihood, changes will apply according to the locations and the levels within your organization. Some modalities will change in their character depending on location and level. You may have to ask if your LMS can handle this, and making changes can be complicated and expensive to implement.
Here are some delivery methods and where they might be useful.
Many organizations implemented virtual classrooms in 2020 to replace the way training was done in 2019. Much of this virtual format was provided for knowledge workers, managers, and for reskilling and upskilling across many organizational levels. Organizations generally reported that they were happy with the results. At the same time, one size does not fit all, and “Zoom fatigue” entered everyone’s vocabulary. As organizations come back online it will be a good idea to look for ways to improve on the experience. At the very least, look at whether and how well the learning objectives were met, according to organization level and location.
When applied to an appropriate use case, microlearning may be ideal at many levels. If correctly designed and delivered through mobile devices, this can work extremely well for frontline workers and for knowledge workers who are at home.
Gamification and simulation, including short sims
Gamification, simulation, and short sims are very similar to microlearning, with the advantage that engagement may actually be higher, retention may be higher, and transfer to the job may be more effective, especially with designs that incorporate practice and reflective practice.
Social learning and collaboration
Recent research has revealed that use of social learning techniques can greatly increase learning. How can you apply social learning techniques online? Consider streaming. If you have ever taken part in a Twitch stream, you have seen online social learning happen, and keeping people involved can require very little effort on the part of a facilitator. There are more streaming options available every day, or so it seems.
Use the next few months to prepare
The Learning Guild's Learning Solutions Digital Experience (May 3-14) includes many sessions that address alternative ways to deliver instruction in the next 6 - 18 months. Key L&D tracks (Instructional Design, Management & Strategy, Emerging Tech, Tools, Learning Platforms) organize the sessions in a way that makes it simple to match your choices to your organization's situation.
You should not miss this opportunity to expand your preparation for the transition that is on the doorstep. For example:
- Keynotes that include Learning in the New Normal: Five Perspectives. In this fast-paced and thought-provoking closing session of the Learning Solutions Digital Experience, industry leaders will focus on how to apply what we’ve learned in the evolving world of “the new normal”.
- Pre-conference session P1: Designing Engaging Virtual Classroom Experiences will help you move beyond "listen only" webinars.
- Sessions that specifically address how to design and use microlearning, simulation, gamification, social learning, as well as redefining the learning ecosystem in 2021
Register now for the Learning Solutions Digital Experience while you have time to begin getting familiar with the alternatives as you do your planning. Lay out your curriculum plans and identify the best delivery options. Bon appetit!