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Learn Where You Are

The mobility revolution allows a new level of training magnification and reinforcement. Get the message? By John Higgins
One of the more exciting learning innovations in the market is the learner’s ability to access assignments from any location at anytime. The continued advances in mobile devices—laptops, tablets, and smart phones—combined with the ubiquitous nature of network access, have served as catalysts to support mobile learning. Further, digital messaging via the mobile phone, supported with applications such as Twitter, allows learners to receive messages that reinforce their learning. This combination of mobility and messaging represents opportunities to enhance learning efficacy in ways never seen before.
Recall that a couple of key elements increase the efficacy of learning. These elements are reinforcement and spaced repetition. Ample scientific research is available for you to consume on these topics elsewhere. For the purpose of this month’s discussion, let’s acknowledge that the level of learning that is actually retained and applied (to achieve business results) improves when learning is reinforced through repetition. Stated another way, your learners do a better job of actually applying what you’ve taught them when you remind them of the important learning points they need to apply from their formal instruction.
So what does this have to do with a discussion on innovation within an LSO arrangement? Two points here for you. First, infrastructure. Second, offering capability. In order to create a seamless and integrated learning experience, your provider needs to deploy infrastructure that supports the integration of mobile learning and messaging with your total solution. Several years ago, it was quite sufficient for your provider to create content, host courses, register students, manage instructors and facilities, and report results. Today, the global corporate learning environment is far more dynamic than what the typical traditional learning infrastructure can support. Today, you must be able to offer your learners options such as the ability to take learning with them as they travel. You must also have the ability to rapidly develop content that aligns with the particular device a learner will use to access and consume content. I’ve seen several providers fail to keep pace with this ability to rapidly develop and align content, and thus, they place their buyers at a disadvantage.
In terms of offering capability, it is important to ensure that your provider understands the implications of learning innovation. It would be an interesting exercise to invite your provider to describe the top five social and business trends that will have an impact on your learning strategy. You would then want to hear what your provider is doing to support these trends and how this positions you for success. It is critical your provider is developing capabilities to deliver the right content, at the right place, and at the right time to your learners. In addition to infrastructure, the ability to develop and deploy specific capabilities, such as messaging, enriches the value you receive from your provider.
Imagine how much more effective your learning impact would be if you could “push” key learning points to your students in an automated manner. I was recently with a home healthcare client who saw a demonstration of mobile messaging to reinforce the culture of excellence in the delivery of care. Given the shortage of healthcare workers, and the turnover within the industry, the ability to reinforce the culture of an organization helps to speed time to competency and serves to improve the patient experience. Messaging is helping this client to move learning out of the classroom, or from the web, to the place where the home care worker is actually doing the job. In this case, the client’s provider understood that offering capability must move beyond traditional LSO capabilities.
Jeremy Bellman of the L7z Group, a leader in messaging capabilities, reports that messaging to support learning is one of the market’s rapidly growing segments.
According to Bellman, “Buyers understand that learning content needs to be deployed where the work is being done. The ability to support and reinforce learning with messaging is improving the ability of learners to create business impact and results.”
Contrasting a culture of learning innovation with some of the behavior I’ve seen in our LSO market, I recently learned of a provider who debates the value of social networking (a subject we covered in last month’s column). This is typical of a dated point of view and a provider who has yet to fully embrace innovation. It’s simply irrelevant as to whether or not a provider “thinks” a particular innovation is worth providing. The real question is, “How is the market leveraging innovation to improve the business impact of learning?” Reality check: Learners are using this technology anyway—with or without the provider’s support or innovation. Innovations in learning position you to optimize learner impact and drive business results. A number of LSO providers understand this, and they actively bring innovation to their buyers.
How are you innovating with your provider?
John Higgins is founder of Higgins Learning Group and was previously global senior director for Accenture HR & Learning BPO Services. He can be reached at


Tags: Consultants & Advisors, Engaged Workforce, HRO Today Global, Learning, Professional Contribution

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