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5 Tips for a good digital training strategy in times of crisis

Digital learning has been on the rise for some time. Globalization, technological advancements, and the ‘gig’ economy all lead to an increase in the need for fresh, pertinent, and personalized online learning. Companies did step up to the plate and most did plan for the increasingly digitized future by developing digital learning strategies.

I wrote before about the first steps that should be taken in order to set up a qualitative and coherent strategy. In that article, I made reference to Admiral Nelson, one of the greatest strategists of all time, and even though I will not be speaking at large about him again, it seems rather apt to mention that in current times, a ‘battle-like’ attitude is required in order to conquer the times and stay afloat as an organization.

Read more: First steps for building a coherent digital training strategy

Here are some tips on how to improve your company’s digital learning strategy in disruptive times.

1. Take the disruption into consideration

I have seen a number of managers and L&D professionals advocate a sort of ‘ignoring’ attitude towards everything that is going on. There is a very popular idea online that this is the perfect time for people to take several online courses, get certifications, learn something new altogether, and move their career forward.

There may be a small number of individuals who will find that feasible. However, for corporate employees who have to work from home while also keeping the household together and quite probably a few children home-schooled, that sounds preposterous.

Read more: How to make remote work actually work for you

The stress generated by health scares, employment anxiety, and, quite often, added job responsibilities is not something that should be ignored. L&D specialists should design a strategy rooted in this reality, not in spite of it.

It has probably never been a better time for this department to step into its support role.

Read more: How to avoid work from home burnout: A room of one’s own

2. Communicate the plan well

There is a true bombardment of news, opinions, forecasts, case-studies, analysis, models and so much more. People are alert but also anxious so if you want them to be truly aware of what the organization is planning in terms of learning, you need to tell them in a way that is both transparent and engaging.

In regular circumstances, you would get the buy-in from upper management and ask them to send some e-mails or maybe agree to a short interview or video. Since we are not in a ‘business-as-usual’ type of a situation, it is best to get the help of corporate communication specialists when setting about to share the learning plans with its beneficiaries.

It’s best to send more e-mails than usual but keep them shorter. Actually, brevity is highly recommended where the actual learning modules are concerned as well.

Read more: On designing a great L&D communication plan

3. Keep it short and well-curated

A twenty thousand modules database is not the answer right now. As I have mentioned before, there are quite a lot of people who have to sift through these days so when it comes to learning they need to find what they need quickly and they need the materials to be adequate to their needs.

Solid advice and guidance are a lot more appreciated than the encouragement towards self-direction and endless options to choose from. To help your learners stay focused, it’s best if when you e-mail them you direct them to specific pieces of content and explaining why that module is relevant to them.

In times of crisis, frequent communication is better so if you can, you should set up a daily mode for touching base (a micro-learning episode, a video, a link to relevant articles). This way you ensure constant engagement and continuous learning.

Read more: The Micro-first Model for business training

4. Employ user-centered design

In order to do so, it is important to have a good understanding of the learners, their level of knowledge, their goals, and their expectations. Content that is constructed with the end-user in mind will be more flexible and will require a greater level of participation and involvement.

Instead of waiting for content to be delivered, people are engaged in creating their own meaning and learning. Shifting the “balance of power” gives learners a free rein in managing their own knowledge at their own pace and with the appropriate dosage of their individual efforts.

New technology supports a variety of ways in which this can be achieved from quizzes, discussion boards, interactive video content, and the immersive options that AR and VR offer.

Read more: 5 Types of immersive technology for training

Since work from home is here to stay even after the health crisis passes, it’s crucial that companies gear towards these state-of-the-art teaching methods.

5. Turn leaders and SMEs into instructors

With time being of the essence, the need for constant communication and quick solution finding, it’s best to make learning part of the everyday work. Given the right tools and a few tips, team leaders, managers, and subject matter experts can act as knowledge catalysts for the organization, all the while developing their own skills and expertise.

Read more: Harnessing the power of SMEs for successful workplace training

When leaders (both formal and informal) go into teaching mode, their teams automatically go into learning mode and that helps build a much-needed organizational continuous learning culture.

It is important to have relevant information and experiences shared and internalized in order to move the company further and out of murky waters. It takes a team effort in which the role of the captains (like the aforementioned Admiral) is paramount. People need direction and assurance.

Read more: Being an effective leader of remote teams

Closing thoughts

We can’t have an exact prediction of how the corporate world will look a few months from now. What is fairly certain is that digital transformation, which was well underway before this crisis, just got a huge boost and will not reverse. As a result, it is important to develop good digital training strategies for remote teams and prepare for the very near future.

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