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Training & Learning

L&D Expert Bob Mosher Explains What YouTube and Google Can Tell Us About Learner Motivations

Learning in the flow of work is trending, and has been for some time. 

But just how far have organizations come in facilitating flow of work solutions? And how can you prioritize and implement learning in the flow of work in your L&D practice to help learners at their point of need?

In this L&D podcast recap (check out the full episode here), I speak with Bob Mosher, CEO and Chief Learning Evangelist at APPLY Synergies and co-pioneer of The 5 Moments of Need™ about what learning in the flow of work means for the types of learning people find most effective and the challenges facing L&D teams when implementing and prioritizing flow of work solutions.

Our discussion focuses on data insights from 360Learning’s new report on the state of learning in the flow of work which surveyed around 2,000 learners and 1,000 L&D folks across the US, UK, France, and Germany.

Read on to learn more about Bob’s insights on how in the flow of work is the most powerful and intrinsically motivating place for learning.

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What types of training do learners prefer?

The questions we asked in our survey were focused on what training types help people be effective in their jobs and what the barriers to learning at work are.  

As Bob explains, "The experiment that Google and YouTube have been running on L&D’s behalf for the last 16–17 years, if not more, has taught us that when there's a motivation for us to seek out information, that's when we are keen to do so."

The experiment that Google and YouTube have been running on L&D’s behalf for the last 16–17 years, if not more, has taught us that when there's a motivation for us to seek out information, that's when we are keen to do so.

Learn as you go

When asked what has been the most effective way to fit learning into their schedule, 64% of US learners responded, ‘Learn as I go, making the most of opportunities to speak with people and look things up for myself’.

And this statistic doesn’t surprise Bob at all. “This is my favorite aspect about this part of the survey, and I would challenge our colleagues to do this more. I don't think we ask our learners enough about this.”

“We ask learners about how something went or did they like us,” he says, “or after an intervention did they feel it will help them or did it have an impact? But there’s a difference between what was effective, and what do you prefer?”

We ask learners about how something went or did they like us or after an intervention did they feel it will help them or did it have an impact? But there’s a difference between what was effective, and what do you prefer?

Over the last five years, Bob has asked a similar question to L&D professionals as learners. “Overwhelmingly, thousands of you, when you look at your learning, have answered very similarly that we have to fit it into what we do or in the workflow. It's the most powerful and intrinsically motivating place for learning to occur,” he explains.

Mismatched learning: what is actually effective?

According to our study, there appears to be a mismatch in what learners deem effective training types versus what L&D teams invest in.

Just 29% of UK learners said online training (including eLearning, virtual training, and  MOOCs) was effective, despite this being the primary type of training they received. The problem is that investment in corporate learning tech has skyrocketed in the last two years.

“I think we got fooled by an acronym years ago called JIT,” says Bob, “and as we got into eLearning, we threw out ‘just-in-time’, but here's what a friend of mine said, ‘We confused accessibility with relevance’. This statistic shows us that just making training available in a different modality doesn't give you workflow learning.”

Just 29% of UK learners said online training (including eLearning, virtual training, and  MOOCs) was effective, despite this being the primary type of training they received.

“And I've been pushing this definition for months now because definitions are important if you explain this to your enterprise and get them to let you do it. The tip of the sword is not eLearning in the workflow or a SharePoint site with a gazillion links on it–they’re a part of the toolkit and the blend.”

Peer-to-peer learning rated as the most effective training type

Learning from peers, coaching and mentoring, and instructor-led training delivered on the job were rated as the most effective types of training for all four countries polled.

“I love where we're going with all this,” says Bob, “but let’s be careful with peers, coaches, and mentors. They are the most valued resource in any enterprise. They're full-time employees and often paid to do other jobs, so I'm not knocking those folks.”

However, as Bob explains, you have to be careful of some factors such as their availability, whether they're correct, and whether you can scale them well. 

“They have to be a part of the architecture, but we also have to understand that most organizations want an independent, self-motivated high-performing worker, and if it's done poorly, there's a dependency on peers, coaches, and mentors,” he says. “But I love where we're going here because this is rearchitecting and re-orchestrating the blend.”

Are organizations still prioritizing learning in the flow of work?

According to our survey, learning in the flow of work keeps the same priority as last year for almost 6 out of 10 L&D leaders across all four countries. 

“But here's the interesting thing,” says Bob. “I wanted to lose weight for years too, and I also wanted to be a better golfer, and I'm neither. So, the journey between desire and doing is the pivot.”

In his experience, Bob has found that where L&D has fallen short is taking a step back and doing the hard things we need to do differently. “We sometimes reconstruct what we already know and expect a different thing.”

“A survey came out about the most popular tools our industry uses. I went through all one hundred of them, and only four had anything to do with workflow learning or designing for it. So, how do we expect to build a house differently if we don't change the tools we use to build it?”

The desire is at a place like never before, Bob explains. Now, we need to have the tough conversations, take the complex steps, let go of some things we’ve held on to for too long, and invest in what we need to do differently.

During his career, Bob has learned and relearned three crucial learning in the flow of work elements over and over again:

1. Learning in the flow of work is not new. “We're not inventing anything,” he says. “Workflow learning has been around as long as the learner has been doing their job.”

The desire is at a place like never before, Bob explains. Now, we need to have the tough conversations, take the complex steps, let go of some things we’ve held on to for too long, and invest in what we need to do differently.

2. Learners face barriers when it comes to learning in the flow fo work. “No one's ever systematized workflow learning for learners. So, they do it as best as they can by posting notes all over their monitors, they bother others, and two people end up doing one person's work.”

3. L&D team's deliverables don’t align with learning in the flow of work. “eLearning doesn’t move the needle,” Bob says. “Therefore, we have to look at it very differently.”

No one's ever systematized workflow learning for learners. So, they do it as best as they can by posting notes all over their monitors, they bother others, and two people end up doing one person's work.

What learning in the flow of work challenges do L&D teams face?

According to our survey’s findings, the biggest challenge facing L&D teams is that they don’t have the budget or resources to support learning in the flow of work.

“We hear this all the time,” says Bob. “One of my favorite excuses growing up to avoid things in life with my dad was that I didn't have time. And my father's favorite quote was, ‘No, you had time, you didn't make time’. You make time for things that are important to you.”

“When there's no time or resources, that means you chose to use them on something else. They may be limited, and I'm not saying they're not, but the question becomes, ‘what do you choose to spend those time and resources on’?” Bob often hears that L&D teams have to get the training class done first or build a solution, to which he responds that they haven’t made the pivot to learning in the flow of work.

When there's no time or resources, that means you chose to use them on something else. They may be limited but the question becomes, ‘what do you choose to spend those time and resources on’?

“I wrote an article years back called, Do You Teach Swimming or Prevent Drowning?” Bob explains. “If I saw someone drowning in the deep end, I wouldn’t say, ‘Look at me, I’m going to show you how to swim’. No, you'd throw them a life jacket immediately. You'd give them something in the context of drowning and go from there.”

“However, we send learners back to drown. We don't build the life support of the workflow first, and then we pile on all these assets that stun them. Again, we're not refuting them, but we have to be sure we're prioritizing and standing behind this idea first,” he says.

4 practical recommendations on where to go from here

By now, you must be considering how to kick start or better facilitate learning in the flow of work in your organization. Here are four practical tips on where to go from here.

1. Identify performance needs: You need to understand what people are trying to do, what they're unable to do efficiently or effectively, and that their inability to do so is having a critical impact on your organization or department. 

2. Encourage peer learning: Learning from peers, coaching and mentoring, and instructor-led training help keep the context of your organization in your learning the flow of work solutions.

3. Leverage technologies and integrations: Even though you may be hamstrung when it comes to technologies, you can still run experiments with the technology you have or tech that is free. 

4. Demonstrate impact: If there is a critical need and you've done your analysis, you know your ground zero. Don't stop your experiment until you start making an impact. Then you turn the dial and do more of the stuff that works.

Thanks to Bob for sharing his expertise and insights on learning in the flow of work and discussing our survey results with us! Keen to learn from more L&D experts? Check out my conversation with Mirjam Neelen about how standing on the shoulders of L&D giants is so crucial when trying to make an impact.

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