Creating an agile learning environment is no easy task. But in this current state of the business world, flexibility and agility are necessary to survive.
Not all companies have the learning initiatives in place to cope. In fact, only 17% of companies surveyed in a recent study stated they manage change effectively. Only 30% have change management and learning and development teams in place to support employees adapt to change.
In relation to organizations that are more agile, 59% of them rely on outside providers to create learning agility for them. If you recognize your own company as being included in these statistics, there are ways you can become more agile and independent with an agile learning strategy.
The Components of Agile Learning
In order to create an agile learning environment, a company needs to have a strategy in place to help guide the organization in a certain direction. Whether the company creates agile learning on their own or with the help of an outside organization there are certain elements that will make the strategy a success.
1. Evaluate Your Needs
In order to develop an effective strategy, you need to know what your current state is, where you would like to go, and what you need to get there. In a 2015 Human Capital Institute survey 74% of companies interviewed stated that they wanted to develop a learning culture. They felt that they needed to develop various values in order to make this happen: a growth mindset, risk taking, supporting mistakes, more flexible learning systems, and managing challenges. How many of those values align with your own?
The survey found that the 11% of companies who include those values in their own values saw many positive changes in their business practices.
If you want to figure out if you need to put some of the above practices in place, you can start by asking yourself a few questions:
- Have I created an environment that is supportive of learning?
- Have I created clear learning practices?
- Do I or the company’s leaders support a culture of learning?
By asking yourself these questions you can begin to determine what your needs are and how you need to proceed.
2. Set Goals
Part of creating a strategy is setting SMART goals. After you have evaluated your needs, you need to make sure you create measurable goals to see how you are progressing in creating your agile learning environment.
Your goals should have certain qualities: specific timeframes, metrics related to success, responsible people, and specific tasks.
3. Make Culture a Priority
There can be no agile learning without a strong learning culture. You can create a culture of learning by exhibiting the importance of learning throughout the organization. Some key steps would be to:
- Make sure learning and development has proper funds
- Model learning through sharing what you have learned
- Encourage different departments and teams to provide feedback about their learning styles and what they need to learn
- Provide opportunities for learning everyday
- Use technology to supplement in-person learning
When you make learning a priority and show that is an important aspect of the business, everyone else will begin to participate in learning activities and ultimately they will begin to love learning as much as you do. Creating a culture of learning starts with you.
4. Meet the Needs of Employees
Having an agile learning culture should improve the business as a whole, but its main focus should be on employees. Employees want learning that is just enough, just in time, and just for them. They want speed and flexibility when they learn.
That means that your strategies need to conform to the needs of the employees, not to the needs of the leaders. Creating goals and initiatives that do not relate to the needs of employees can actually damage the culture of the organization, leading to less learning and more frustrated employees.
5. Embrace Technology
One important aspect learning is knowing the types of technology that are out there and knowing which ones will help your employees during their learning journeys. Technology can come in the form of learning management systems, MOOCs, videos, social media or gamification, among other things.
Also read: 11 Technology Trends in LMS
Technology can also help facilitate on-demand learning, personalized learning, continuous learning, informal learning, peer learning, mobile learning, microlearning, and team learning. All those types of learning are crucial when you want to create an agile learning environment.
Many employees already expect technology when it comes to learning. High-quality videos, images, and design have become the norm. Interactive elements and quick animations or audio elements are familiar parts of new learning systems.
Another important aspect of technology in learning systems is the role of data and analytics. Learning systems that use technology are able to collect data about learners and send feedback to learners and employers. This can allow you to provide more focused and personalized instruction.
Cloud technology allows you to provide information across various platforms and to update the information with the click of a button.
Mobile allows you to encourage your employees to access learning materials wherever they are.
The list of ways technology is changing learning goes on and on. But one simple fact remains clear: technology is essential for agile learning. Involve your IT teams in your learning and development meetings to see how you can add more technology to your learning strategy.
While agile learning is necessary in today’s world, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you follow these elements of agile learning, you will be well on your way to helping your employees and your business adjust to the sometimes chaotic nature of business nowadays.