Last night was like many nights. I sat down in my recliner, grabbed the remote, and turned to Netflix. New releases … nothing looked good there. Based on previous selections … nope. Drama … not really. Comedy … never mind. Next, I tried HBO … sigh. Twenty minutes later, I sighed and turned off the television.
Too much content. After a while, it all looks the same.
Like the above experience with digital entertainment illustrates, we often find ourselves flooded with a multitude of online learning options. There are endless amounts of free and subscription-based content designed to improve our leadership skills, presence, and effectiveness. All too often, companies are looking for customized training that will fill a specific need, but they end up with a generic solution that has a large amount of content but no direct tie-in or connection with their company, their organizational goals, their people, or their unique needs. As a result, learners are left to their own devices and forced to navigate the seemingly endless sea of content without clear direction or an end destination in mind.
So, how do you take all of this content and create a curated learning journey designed specifically for your company, your goals, your visions, and your leaders? You turn to the experts.
Entelechy has more than thirty years of experience creating and customizing proprietary content to work hand-in-hand with organizations' additional resources and subscriptions. We've learned a few things over the years when it comes to using content from multiple sources within a single learning journey, and here are our best tips to utilize the content your organization already offers your employees with direction, purpose, and clarity.
1. Narrow the Scope
It's easy to throw a large library of content at people and assume that they will get the most out of it. But usually the opposite happens. A large resource library can be overwhelming to a learner — people will look once or twice to find something and then give up. For the more charismatic learners, they may enjoy digging through endless content, but there is no guarantee that they will get out of it the goals and objectives you intend. Provide a specific learning path or search guidance to help narrow the focus and make the most of their effort and time.
2. Focus on the Desired Outcomes
Identify the goals and learning objectives you want to share with your learners as key takeaways — what do you want them to get out of this? Are you expecting to introduce a new perspective, introduce new process, or change culture? Know why you are asking people to take time to learn, and then look to the experts for key insights and supporting perspectives. Don’t spend time reinventing the wheel.
3. Set Boundaries
Create structure to your learning by implementing clear boundaries and expectations, including an anticipated time frame, key deliverables, or completion criteria. These boundaries will help learners see an end goal, keep focused on the bigger picture, and stay on track. It will also help you determine what content you see as necessary to your overall learning goal, and what content you see merely as a suggestion.
4. Answer the "Why?"
Depending on who you are and the type of week, month, or even year you are having, learning can be everything from fun and exciting to stressful and burdensome. So, no matter who your audience is, you need to answer the bigger question of why they are being asked to do this. This is where most content libraries need extra help. It’s not enough to ask leaners to simply watch a video, read an article, or walk through a brief module. You need to provide tangible links for them to connect the content they see with the work they do. Set expectations for real-life implementation. Add these expectations to personal objectives. Hold each other accountable. Create the connections for them to follow — this takes time and expertise.
With these tips in mind, hopefully you are able to look at your content libraries (free or subscription) through a different lens. Our hope is that you see them more as supporting material rather than the whole learning experience in itself. To have your leaders get the "Ah-ha!" moments you want, you need to utilize the content available to create a curated learning journey that walks them through breakthroughs, provides opportunities for self-reflection, and delivers real-life implementation strategies.
We spent a lot of time in this article talking about the importance of a comprehensive learning journey. For good reason. A learning journey provides the meaning and the structure your learners need to fully embrace the new skills and concepts being taught. As the world moved virtual earlier this year, many organizations scrambled to get any type of virtual learning content in front of their leaders. Well, now that we know virtual learning is here to stay, we need to get back to basics if we want to drive long-lasting behavior change. With that in mind, mapping a virtual learning journey should be the first step your organization takes as you continue to reimagine what leadership development looks like in today's virtual world. For next steps, check out our recent article, Virtual Training Tip: Map Your Virtual Learning Journey.