25 Mar 2016 20:04 IST

Gurukul goes hi-tech

With mobile phones and the Net, enterprising organisations can nurture talent even before hiring

Fifteen to twenty years ago, when mobile phones made their presence felt in India, I never really imagined that they could be used for any other purpose beyond calling and messaging. But as time went by, we witnessed the power of the mobile phone to transform not just communication, but even lifestyles — the death of the quintessential alarm clock, for instance. The role of the irreplaceable mobile phone has not just impacted our personal lives but our professional lives as well, and this is making organisations look at engagement with employees in an entirely new light.

Let’s take the case of learning and development. We live in a highly dynamic work environment that needs us to evolve and stay on a continuous learning curve. Therefore, the Chief Learning Officer today needs to find innovative ways to adapt to the changing environment and also ensure that individuals continue to develop in line with the emerging industry and organisational needs.

In my view, there are multiple trends that will significantly impact learning and development.

The first and foremost is the blurring of lines that demarcate personal and work lives. Today, people spend a significant amount of time commuting to work. While this is a seemingly personal challenge, I see it as a great opportunity organisations can explore if this travel time can be leveraged for self-learning and development.

Generation Z and learning

The second important trend is the influx of Gen Z, an entire generation that has experienced a different kind of learning. This generation has acquired knowledge based on the need of the moment and discovered information using Google or any other searchable option. While Gen Z is filled with highly self-directed learners, this group also believes in leveraging technology to increase productivity and flexibility of working anywhere as a way of life. Gen Z is yet to join the workforce, but it provides organisations with an opportunity to leverage learning as a means of proactively engaging with, and nurturing, talent.

When the above trends are viewed in the context of business objectives of higher growth, revenue, productivity and faster delivery to market, it is imperative that businesses invest in learning. Therefore, companies need to prepare and invest in creating digital interventions that encourage real-time, anytime and just-in-time learning that is supported by feedback on a continuous basis.

Mobile learning

I definitely see the architecture of learning and development, and its existing delivery approach, completely transforming this fast-changing and evolving environment. In the times to come, learning will be seen as an ongoing affair delivered through mobile, social and informal groups/networks and not as programmes or courses that people go to.

Given the above scenario, I believe we can significantly leverage digital technology to drive more mobile learning. My top five picks to leverage the “trainer in your pocket”:

1. Learning nuggets: Research shows that a learner’s attention is typically for about 8 minutes, and after that it starts dropping. It’s best to have 8-minute-long learning nuggets or micro-learning opportunities.

2. Contextualised and personal learning: Taking a lesson from Google Search engine, create content that lends itself to the situation and is location-specific.

3. Adaptive learning: Provide learning based on the learners level, the content should re-calibrate itself to take the learner through the learning journey.

4. Augmented reality (AR): AR apps have already made their presence felt. Using AR and scannable book barcodes, video streaming can be enabled to support learning.

5. Mobile as a social conduit: Social platforms like WhatsApp that are available on mobile devices can become powerful learning platforms that encourage peer-to-peer learning.

Mobile learning gives an edge to enterprising companies that believe in nurturing talent even before they step through the door. The digital transformation that is happening across the world is causing tectonic shifts in learning and development. Organisations that understand and address this change are the ones who will differentiate themselves by creating stronger engagement and employer branding.

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