Blended Digital Learning to Make Classroom Training Stick

sticky learning

How to Use Blended Digital Learning to Make Classroom Training Stick

With all this talk about digital learning, many people are asking “Is Instructor-led Training dead?” Of course not.

We can address the forgetting curve and provide solutions before, during and after class, just by blending in aspects of digital learning. With the tools readily available to us today, we can make ILT/VILT stick.

But how?  

Let’s start by covering some basics. The reality of Instructor Led Training (ILT) and Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) is that they typically cram a lot of learning into a short time. A typical example would be a two-day ILT class or a 4-half day VILT class that builds a skill. In that time, an instructor will introduce many new concepts and new ideas. Even with great exercises, there is a lot to learn and remember. Many studies show that retention  drops quickly after classroom training.

How can we make it better?

Digital learning gives us the tools to blend formal, informal, and experiential learning. It also provides an easy way for a designer to prep, communicate and reinforce skills on a topic.  Bottom line: shorter class time, more reinforcement and better learning. Instructors can evolve from lecturers into coaches. With a blended approach, micro learning and personalized approach, learners learn better and even develop a learning habit.

How does an Instructional Designer or a Learning Program Manager move to that goal?

First of all, incorporation a solution to make “training” stick can be accomplished  gradually.  There are basically three steps:

First, keep the current classroom structure as is and append spaced learning and reinforcements to the end, using digital learning tools. This is a simple way to transition. Gradually, start adding pre-work that provides microlearning with the key concepts, preferably with assessments.  The valuable time in-class then becomes valuable experiential learning with practice and coaching.

Second, formalize the flipped classroom. Learners take modular courses on the topic, with assessments at the end of each. Then, in the classroom (face-to-face or virtual), they use the time to practice and get coaching. More exercises and reminders follow the class. Reinforcing experiential learning builds better skills.

Lastly, the cohort can be moved to a full digital experience. Timed components can be assigned to a group (cohort) and they work together with a coach in a social network. As before, reinforcements, practice and reminders reduce the forgetting curve.  Now, the instructors are coaches and the learners’ expectations are met.

To fully implement more digital learning components, add in Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and/or Influencer content and connections. Take advantage of the tacit knowledge in the company. Think about what can be accomplished in a blend of informal/formal content from inside and outside of the company. Remember, instructors make great coaches and mentors. All of these efforts build skills, reward SMEs and add practice.

Of course, it helps if you have technology that allows easy integration of all of the training elements and systems to personalize the experience. As always, providing your learners with a good user experience will drive engagement.


Digital Learning as 2017 Closes

2017 Digital LearningDigital Learning as 2017 Closes

December is always a crazy month – a lot to do in a short time.  It is also a time for reflection.

One of the topics high on my list to reflect upon is:  where are we with Digital Learning?  For me, this has been a journey over a couple of years with a bit of turmoil, lots of innovation and change.  But, wow, exciting!  I feel that I am in the center of the swirl.  Time to look at all those colors and take stock.

Personally, I have seen some of my opinions shift this year.  Chiefly, I see the value of a blended content solving multiple needs.  I see how addressing the moment of need is critical and how we can build skills, knowledge and drive engagement while meeting learner expectations.

I recently reviewed a slide on the modern learner that Josh Bersin, Founder and Principal of Bersin by Deloitte, presented a couple of years ago.  It placed learners in the center of an overwhelmed, busy, impatient environment, looking out to the  new world.  Josh created that in 2015 and it is even more true today.  Our audience has new expectations.  As learning professionals, we need to let go and guide self directed learning.  OK, great, but how?  How do we respond to the plethora of content; how do we deliver to the learner’s expectations; how do we blend what we know (ILT, VILT, elearning) and the new (micro, informal, external)?  How do we still build skills?

That brings me to the new digital learning world.  A place where we can do all of that and more.  We can do it better with these strategies:

  • Curate:  Find, filter and blend the best content
  • Personalize: Deliver the right solution to the right person
  • Aggregate:  Whitelist, blacklist content. blend modalities and allow machines to help
  • Engage:  Pull tacit, informal knowledge from people within the company
  • Context:  Put knowledge where you need it, when you need it.

I could write pages on each of these bullets.  I love to talk about  how you integrate them and make them work to create the learning environment you need.  Yes, there is tech involved, but there is a whole lot more.  In the past several years we have evolved.  We see the disruption and we have a strategy.  

Corporate Learning has moved into digital learning and we are all stepping up to new skills, new ways of operating and new strategies.  

It is going to be a fun 2018!

Digital Disruption & Learning Fueled by AI

Digital Disruption

Digital Disruption & Learning Fueled by AI

Coming from many years in L&D and Sales Enablement,  I have spent many hours creating, curating and searching for good stuff.

Today, we all are overwhelmed by too much content and too little time.  We need tools to help find, filter and blend content that is relevant and timely.  This is one of the key areas that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help.  

First of all, let’s put a consumer lens on AI to provide a reference point for all of us.  When you shop on Amazon, play music on Pandora or select a video on Netflix, AI is running in the background helping to find, filter and deliver content that’s personalized for you.  All of these great tools learn what you like and react to that growing database, learning as it grows.  All of them process queries using Natural Language Programming.  “Hey Siri, what is the weather?”

Learners today expect this type of user interface.  They want an easy way to gain knowledge, get answers and, ultimately, learn.  They want, even need, that consumer experience.  EdCast delivers that experience and more.  

EdCast and AI

EdCast is an award-winning,  AI-powered knowledge cloud for unified discovery, knowledge management and personalized learning. EdCast aggregates and curates over 10,000 pieces of content/day using AI.  Customers can set parameters and refine the scope of the search.  And these tasks are performed in the background to learn what each learner and each company wants/needs. EdCast applies deep AI knowledge in three key areas:

Discovery:  One key to digital learning success is finding the right answers anywhere, anytime.  EdCast solves the discovery dilemma with broad search APIs that use AI.  That solves the Moment of Need.  Then, the designer or curator can build from there to increase engagement.

Curation:  I believe Curation is both an art and a science and AI truly helps on the science piece.  The AI behind EdCast curates external, internal, formal, and informal content and a way that’s contextualized to the relevant topics.  

Relevance: Google search is a great way to find things.  EdCast’s AI betters that traditional route by incorporating learning topic parameters specific to each customer and/or learner.  EdCast takes millions pieces of content down to a configurable number 5 pieces of relevant material to fit a learner’s daily learning needs.  EdCast provides more than just Moment of Need content, it delivers content a learner wants to learn, driving  continuous learning habit with aspirational learning, enabling a learner’s skill and knowledge for the  future.

All on an easy to use platform.  

Breakthrough Technology, delivering great user experience

EdCast provides the user experience for employees to want to use the system to drive continuous learning.  The AI-powered software reacts to actions of the user, learning habits.

We also use AI to help with virtual coaching, voice commands, and dynamically building pathways, as well as curation, aggregation, and personalization.  

Why now?

There is no denying the digital learning revolution.  Our job as learning professionals is to adapt and learn the new skills to make it work for the learner.  With EdCast’s AI, we can:

  • Make discovery easy
  • Promote continuous learning
  • Recognize and share skills and expertise
  • Drive usage with great user experiences
  • Aggregate and curate overload of content – anytime, anywhere

What are your thoughts on these topics? We’d enjoy hearing them and discussing with you and your organization further. Email us at