How do you make next generation learning a reality?

Personalised programmes can transform your L&D offering – but there are important design principles to follow, says Paul Ashcroft

The concept of next generation learning has gradually moved its way up the boardroom agenda. Executed well, it enables organisations to build vital transformative skills, mindsets and behaviours, faster and more cost-effectively than ever before.

It’s also a learning style that is in high demand by employees. In fact, Ludic Group’s recent report highlighted that, currently, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of employees do not feel training is personalised enough.

Next generation learning provides the solution. But to ensure it is a success, there are several design principles it’s worth paying attention to first:

  1. Bespoke learning journeys

    The combination of self-learning, virtual and face-to-face classrooms, one-to-one (virtual) coaching and structured team and peer learning activities results in the best adult learning programme. Learners can structure and sequence activities of their own accord, giving them control over the depth and format of learning.

  2. Personalised learning

    Highly personalised programmes maximise limited time for training. Learning teams should be formed and personal development coaches recommended automatically, based on an individual’s location, role and expertise.

  3. Flexible platform

    This should have flexibility at the heart, for the individual and the organisation alike. For individuals particularly, timescales, activities and modes of learning fit around them.

  4. Scalable delivery

This allows transformative learning to be delivered at scale with large cohorts. The right technology platform creates peer communities and learning teams, automates the booking of classrooms and coaching sessions, and keeps participants on track through notifications and reminders. It is also cost-efficient as it applies expert resource as and when needed, using a lean core delivery team.

  • Connected experts

    This is about accessing the expertise that already exists in organisations. It maps expert knowledge through resource libraries and conversations, where these individuals become mentors and coaches for other participants.

  • Strategic outcomes

    Programmes are designed with a clear set of learning outcomes for the individual, closely linked to the specific strategic goals of the business.

  • Gamified experience

    Games, fun and competition are at the heart of this theory. Gamification allows learners to test ideas in safe scenarios and rewards participation and contribution within an engaging environment.

  • Multimedia and multi-channel

    People have limited time, so content needs to be compelling, on-demand and relevant. Through a range of media, such as film, games, quizzes and animation, engagement is increased and so is the effectiveness of learning. It also flexes to peoples’ lives – learners could watch a video tutorial on their phone on the train to work, then participate in a virtual classroom from their desktop in the office.

  • Curated content

    A key challenge is curating existing content and providing the most relevant elements. The goal is providing enough useful tools, concepts and examples around a topic to encourage learners to contribute and share their own best practice and other resources. Participants quickly add their own materials, which builds a dynamic library of curated content.

  • Real-time feedback

    Effective learning requires rapid and real-time feedback. Dynamic reporting and live feedback gives the individual and the organisation immediate analysis of the impact of learning. It demonstrates successes, but also means that issues are quickly identified and trajectories self-correct.

  • Community-based

    It is well understood that we learn better together. Next generation learning builds and maintains a community of learners with team activities, such as challenges and games that encourage sharing and collaboration.

  • People-centred

    Research shows that individuals excel when surrounded by the right support network. This type of learning puts the individual at the centre and supports them closely, linking with their manager, personal coach and others.

  • With these principles, next generation learning is the solution to scaling up learning cost-effectively. When the theory is followed, businesses can create world-class learning programmes that will deliver the personalised experiences that employees are so desperately crying out for – at scale, with transformative results.

    Paul Ashcroft is co-founder and partner of the Ludic Group