In my previous role, I was very clear on why I wanted to become a Learning Consultant: I wanted to get nearer to clients’ deployment strategies.
That sounds like the most boring reason to do anything and in many ways, it is. But I was sick of living my life like the world’s worst pirate; instead of burying my treasure, I was SCORM wrapping it. We devoted months of blood, sweat and tears (sometimes literally but mostly because of papercuts) to a course, only to have it buried on an LMS. Instead of a treasure map, learners got automatically generated emails with a multi-point sign in link.
Urgh. I mean arrrr… I mean urgh.
Digital learning is in some ways a victim of its own success. Its USP is its ability to give access to content remotely and asynchronously. You can cut out the logistical challenge of needing everyone in the same room at the same time. Suddenly learning could be uploaded centrally and can be accessed at a time and place that suits the learner.
‘Can’ is really the operative word here and it confuses access with enabling. What I’ve found more often than not is that access isn’t the biggest barrier to learning – it’s time. It’s having mental and physical space in your calendar to give a course the time and attention it needs. Making courses more widely available doesn’t address this challenge, but a well thought out deployment plan can.
It’s important to note that I’ve seen some great deployment strategies over the years. But it’s also fair to say that often there’s little more than an automatically generated email to draw learner’s attention to a course.
But that’s all changed over the last year. It seems that immersive technologies are keeping us honest. It’s harder to pretend that loading a well-crafted VR experience onto a headset is all you need to do to get it to your learning group. This ‘build it and deployment will take care of itself’ mindset, suddenly doesn’t fly. Automatically generated email or not, it needs a deployment strategy and I’ve really been enjoying having these conversations.
Often what you do with your learning assets can be as creative and as impactful as the content of itself. Below is a list of some of the deployment approaches we’ve been adapting and although they have been specifically designed for VR and AR solutions, the principles can be applied to any digital learning.
To bring a practical element to a theoretical discussion, a lot of what we produce is used to supplement and support face-to-face training sessions. It’s a great way to energise the room and give people a chance to practice in a safe space. We’ve seen a lot of different successful ways to facilitate these experiences from everyone having their own headset and going through the VR apps individually, to team games that make use of the space inside as well as outside the headset.
Although this approach won’t be right for all digital training, I’ve always been a strong advocate of creating digital training cohorts. Even if the training needs to happen remotely, arranging people into groups and encouraging them to support each other adds a meaningful timebound element as well as a positive social learning dimension.
Existing social or learning events are a great place to reach people. The content needs to be right and there’s an art to demoing. But if you’re able to do this, it’s a brilliant way to create a buzz.
One of our clients is looking to demo their experience in their lunch hall during a learning campaign. Not only does the experience itself play an important part in their learning journey, but it also helps create interest and enthusiasm for the other mandatory pieces of training.
What happens after a launch or a specific training event? How can you access refresher training? We’ve been advocating clients creating lending libraries where a headset can either be sent out or a dedicated room can be booked so that learners can take the experience at their own pace.
Although there are some logistical constraints to this, setting aside time to dedicate to completing a learning experience, away from your desk can actually be a really powerful approach.
Even if you’re not currently creating learning for headsets, you could take a similar tact by encouraging learners to put time in their diaries to complete their training and either book out a room or go to a breakout space to get away from their desks – and their emails. It’s not exactly embracing the micro-learning ethos, but distractions and time pressure are the enemies of a good learning experience and this is one way to tackle it.
Often in learning, as in life, one size doesn’t fit all. We frequently have requirements for deploying our courses over multiple platforms. It might be that VR is right for the classroom, but for quick reference later, a desktop version is needed.
In one course I’m working on at the moment, we’re creating a series of environments that are designed to be desktop-first so a facilitator can guide a whole class through them together, at the same time. There’s then an optional headset version so that individual learners can review the environments that relate to their job roles in the breaks and downtime.
VR training deployment has given me a chance to take a fresh look at what good looks like for training deployment. There are lots of lessons that can be learnt regardless of what learning assets you’re creating. The most important thing, as with everything we do, is that you take a truly learner-centric, solutions-focussed approach. If you can adopt that mindset, then the rest of it really will take care of itself.