How many digital learning trend blogs have you read so far this year? Five, ten, twenty?
Added on 13 April 2015 by Erika Lucas
Every spring the internet is bursting at the seams with experts telling you which new technologies are going to be the next big thing. In reality, predictions often fall flat, or fail to give any actionable input for those seeking to understand digital learning.
With this in mind, we thought we would instead discuss the three key elements of a successful digital learning solution and the best ways to achieve them. In our experience, this provides more long-term success than chasing every new trend that surfaces.
Engagement is key to keeping users interested, and as the only sure-fire way of making sure learning ‘sticks’, should always be prioritised in a digital learning solution. Currently, two of the most popular methods for achieving engagement in digital learning are gamification and socialisation – or creating a ‘social space’ that encourages users to discuss content.
Though gamification can seem gimmicky by contrast, it has the benefit of creating a competitive atmosphere among learners, and can easily be used to measure the impact of content. In order to learn effectively, students need to be motivated and proud of what they accomplish, and gamification can quickly solve this need through leader boards, reward systems, and similar features.
Socialisation relies on the opposite instinct, encouraging users to learn from and help one another during the learning journey. Social interactions with peers energise learning, ensuring that knowledge becomes emotionally significant enough to be retained and digested. This makes it a preferable option when it comes to heightening engagement, serving the end user much more effectively in the long run.
While social engagement can help users to build emotional connections around their knowledge, good digital learning platforms also address the need to make that knowledge more relevant to everyday life.
There are several ways to do this, not least of which is linking theory to practice via examples from the real world. Ensuring information relates to current affairs helps learners retain information for longer, as linking their learning to existing knowledge builds neural connections and long-term memory.
Alternatively, some of the best solutions customise user experience and content to create a personalised offering for each client. This ‘curation’ technique not only taps into the trend for customisation, recurring several times over recent years, but allows clients to hone in on the challenges they know particular employees face. Preventing the end user from being overloaded with information also creates a more focused learning environment.
Flexibility in delivery is something we always assume is inherent in digital learning – it is often the reason users choose learning online rather than traditional qualifications. However, providing a flexible digital learning tool has moved beyond simply offering online learning 24/7. With increasingly tech-savvy users in the form of Millennials and Generation Y, more clients are expecting solutions that go beyond the basics and tackle accessibility issues by allowing use across multiple devices.
‘Multi-device’ solutions open doors for wider audiences, letting those who may be ‘out-and-about’ as part of their role, rather than desk-bound, take part in company-wide learning initiatives using their mobile devices or tablets. This type of flexibility means employees can learn in their own way, which is equally important in creating a successful learning environment. One person might sit and do an hour of CPD, but others may achieve more through learning ‘bites’ of five to ten minutes. Consequently, content needs to be delivered in a way that allows learners to absorb it on any device, whenever they have the time.
This blog post was produced by Virtual Ashridge, an award-winning collection of online materials created by the faculty and consultants of Ashridge Business School. Customisable, relevant and insightful, Virtual Ashridge is the leading digital learning solution that allows your learners to access a business school education anytime they need it, anywhere in the world.