• Rob Wright

Skills Data as Key to the Future of Learning



What's the real request that business leaders and managers are making of their L+D functions?


To train people? Educate them? Give them Resources? Yes, for sure.


But at its core, we believe the deeper - sometimes unspoken - ask of L+D is 'Help me make sure my people are ready + thrive in their roles.'


Until now, most learning technology platforms and tools have only been able to answer the those first few points.


  • Are my people trained? LMS answer: yes, 94% completed their courses by last Friday.

  • Are my people educated? LMS answer: yes, 90% of people got 8 out of 10 questions right on their quiz 12 minutes after they took the class.

  • Do my people have resources? LMS answer: yes, all our content is on-demand, searchable, and bite-sized.

  • Are my people ready? LMS answer... (crickets) The ability of training completion data and knowledge checks to predict future business performance is often fairly low, so answering this question is really hard for most organizations.

The Role of Skills Data

During a recent executive round table, we led a discussion about this dynamic and how the future of learning is immersive. (Side note: you don't need VR headsets to run an immersive learning program!)


This is true - in part - because immersive experiences help people learn faster. In our research and experience, people who practice can train for 20% less time and hit their performance goals as much as 2x faster than colleagues who go through more traditional training experiences.


But immersive learning is also the future because delivering immersive experiences enables your organization to capture data and insights you've never had before.


The core metric generated by simulation and practice-based training (our favorite immersive methods) is not completion or knowledge data - it's skill level according to some measurement of proficiency.


The insights generated look something like this:


"Rob spent 2.5 hours in simulations. His strengths are XYZ, his development areas are ABC. After another hour of some targeted practice and coaching, he will be ready. We'll keep coaching to ABC over the next 3 months."

Getting Started with a Goal

If this sounds too good to be true, the journey towards this future state is much easier than it sounds. And the first step is not technology. The first step is setting a goal for the use of practice in your organization.


Here's an exercise you can lead with your team to get the immersive learning conversation started with your team:


First, inventory your learning assets/classes by the amount of time a learner spends in them based on the kind of experience they represent. Are they an instructional class? A wiki-article? An eLearning? A video? Don't forget to include things like job shadowing.


Then run the same exercise based on the amount of money your company spends to create/sustain each experience type. Include all expense categories, including delivery, time off the clock, etc. to get an 'all in' cost.


Then create a pie chart like the sample below for both your learner experiences and spending levels.


Many companies' learning programs look like the chart on the left. Lots of classes. Lots of eLearnings + bite-sized lessons, with some practice.


An immersive model looks more like the pie chart on the right, with considerably more time and resources dedicated to practice, simulation, performance coaching, and more. And if you look closely at the pie charts, the total size of the immersive model is smaller - because the 'all in' costs of an immersive program are typically lower than in traditional models.




Some of the key questions to ask as you conduct this exercise are:


  • Do we believe more practice + immersive experiences would get better results than what we're doing today?

  • What would it take for our program(s) to make dramatically more time for simulation, practice, and coaching?

  • How would our processes have to evolve? Our budget allocations? Our L+D talent/hiring? Our tech?

This discussion promises to be an interesting one. And if you push in this direction, it is a powerful first step towards improving your organization's ability to answer, "Are my people ready?"


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