By Claudia Mandelli
Today, most learning industry analysts agree that there’s a learner-driven revolution under way. The emergence of social media, a workforce shift, and new mobile technology is changing the way employees interact with each other, as well as the way they learn.
Employees are digitally connected, socially networked, and better informed. They want experiences that make life easier. And they want the convenience of simple, fast interactions, any time, any place. The same is true of employees as learners. They want immediate, user-driven learning experiences that occur at the moment of need, at a customer site or in the office.
The use of mobile and social media for learning is growing across every generation, though they are significantly more pronounced among employees in their early twenties. These trends are likely to grow exponentially. In fact, data is confirming this:
- Mobile workers will reach 1.3 billion in 2015, up from 1.0 billion in 2010 worldwide. (source: IDC, “Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2011-2015 Forecast,” 2011)
- By 2020, up to 50% of the workforce will be Millennials and Generation Y.
The challenge: Making new social learning models relevant
Learning organizations and professionals are trying to take advantage of today’s technology and learning modalities. Yet they struggle to make these new models for social learning relevant for business. Statistics bear this out. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nearly 70% of all learning in the workplace occurs informally, other statistics also show that organizations are still spending most of their money on formal learning programs.
As a consultant with the SAP Education End User Services team, I help customers address the ongoing challenge of balancing new social learning models with more traditional and formal learning. Based on my experience, I’ll tell you there’s one characteristic that seems to typify the new models: Agility. Because these modes are agile, you have the ability to deliver the right amount of information, just when and where it’s needed.
SAP Education has developed a consulting offering, the Agile Learning Service, to help you leverage the agility of new social, mobile, and microlearning methods to streamline learning and deliver the learning experience employees demand.
Understanding your needs, designing a unique approach
In the first phase of the Agile Learning Service, we review and assess your technical, cultural, and organizational capacity to deploy multi-modal learning. Specifically, we explore three sets of learning opportunities:
Social. Use of social collaboration in the learning experience
Mobile. The number employees with a mobile device, their daily patterns of mobile information consumption, and their attitudes about using mobile devices for learning
Micro. Training content development that emphasizes “in the moment” learning
In the second phase, we recommend appropriate social media products and technology platforms. Use of social media helps to build awareness, but learners often need to go deeper. Social collaboration platforms – including ANCILE uAlign – help groups of employees that have a common goal to interact, share information, solve problems, and learn – therefore, building a social learning community. (You can learn more about ANCILE uAlign in our software solutions summary, on page 10.)
Frequently customers have social platforms and internal sites for knowledge sharing in place. We evaluate their potential to be used to sustain learning and to build social communities. Some features are very important:
- Ability to restrict content or make it widely available
- Technical integration with content sources
In the third phase, we work with you to prepare an Agile Learning roadmap and pilot execution plan. We also identify opportunities to deploy micro, mobile, or social learning. An example of pilot could be the deployment of micro learning to a large number of casual system users who need to learn a simple procedure. Another example is the adoption of a new mobile solution, This adoption is accelerated by the use of brief, videos, simulations or and cue cards, delivered directly on the mobile, at the time of need.
Combining new and traditional
Social, mobile, and “micro” learning don’t replace traditional or structured programs They augment and streamline them into a more effective blended learning campaign.
How is this done? Here’s one example: We recently worked on a microlearning approach for a client with a large number of employees dispersed around the world. These employees are focused on developing the core business, and interact infrequently with SAP to enter their time or to report their expenses. The plan is to deploy microlearning to augment the traditional learning strategy.
The goal of this approach is to pair new and traditional modes to make learning simple, intuitive, and consumable at the moment of need. In this context, the availability of prepared super users plays an important role because they are the go-to people for users who struggle with the new processes or applications. We also use analytics, such as SAP User Experience Management by Knoa, to help us identify and correct proficiency issues quickly.
Building social communities
Our team frequently recommends using social communities in conjunction with formal courses. For example, you can establish learning communities where course participants can ask questions, validate their understanding, and share learning with peers. Instructors use social communities to distribute course material, respond to questions, and announce last-minute course updates.
A social community can also be useful in building and sustaining super users programs. Super user social communities become a place for alignment and bi-directional communication between the central SAP support organization and the broader user base. The project team or center of excellence can distribute updates, poll users, and share information about upcoming activities or enhancements. At the same time, super users can distribute information to peers, naturally fostering business process standardization and alignment by sharing best practices.
A winning combination
SAP’s Agile Learning Service helps you pair traditional and agile learning, transforming learning into the collaborative and personalized experience users expect from their workplace. This will help you shorten training cycles and harness the business potential of informal learning. In addition to Agile Learning, SAP Education offers an growing portfolio of services to help your organization prepare its employees to get the most from their SAP technology:
- End User Training Strategy
- Enablement Plan Healthcheck
- User Performance Sustainment Healthcheck
Claudia Mandelli is an SAP Education consultant who delivers SAP’s Agile Roadmap and other SAP Education services to customers in North America. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.