Best Practices in Learning and Development
Training & Learning

Best Practices in Learning and Development: 5 Essentials for UK Organisations in 2022

If you struggle to develop structured training programmes for your employees, know you’re not alone. Just 29% of UK organisations say they have a clear learning and development plan in place for employees, and 74% of workers say that a lack of employee development opportunities is preventing them from reaching their full potential, according to CIPD research.

This suggests UK L&D teams are finding it hard to deliver the training courses employees want. Many organisations simply don’t have the resources to deliver great learning, and creating courses takes too long, making it difficult to produce timely and relevant learning materials. 

For many UK businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these problems. And as our priorities shift, it’s clear employees are willing to walk away from companies that fail to offer enough training opportunities. L&D teams now need to deliver engaging materials that cater to each learner's unique needs—and that starts with involving everyone in the learning process. 

In this article, we’re going to look at five essential best practices you can implement to enhance your learning and development strategy, from tips to encourage employees to address their own learning needs, to leveraging Collaborative Learning platforms, mobile learning, and the new blended learning.

First up, how to give your employees a voice.

1. Let employees address their own learning needs 

In the UK, 97% of organisations still have L&D, Senior Directors and line managers identifying learner needs. This needs to change. That’s why the first best practice toward creating an effective learning and development programme is to decentralise the learning process. You can do this by turning top-down training on its head and instead letting learners declare their own learning needs. L&D teams can then facilitate content creation of those topics. 

Today, learners expect to have a real say in how–and what–they learn. Are employees hungry for a blended learning approach with a mix of online and in-person training, or do they want to consume bite-sized, interactive and social information? Figuring this out early on will help L&D teams develop training materials in the best possible format. 

For L&D teams, understanding the skills your learners want to develop is the number one best practice in L&D— it also happens to be one of the key pillars of Collaborative Learning.

2. Take a collaborative approach to learning

Your organisation’s knowledge is its greatest asset: L&D teams need a way to put it to work. Collaborative Learning is a methodology that allows you to do just that— it enables employees to share their knowledge and expertise so that each member of the team can learn new skills from their coworkers. 

Research shows that using Collaborative Learning increases course engagement rates to over 90%. That’s because employees can teach and learn from each other at the same time, developing skills that are directly relevant to their day-to-day roles. 

One of the main benefits of Collaborative Learning is that it's democratised, giving employees greater control over the type of training they experience. More control increases training relevance and decreases reliance on the L&D manager, which fast-tracks the overall content creation process with iterative learning opportunities. 

And another benefit of Collaborative Learning? L&D teams can leverage subject-matter experts within the business to guide the course creation process. This helps to develop engaging course materials, encourage peer-to-peer learning, and increase employee engagement through actively drawing on internal knowledge and expertise.

A collaborative approach to learning is the second best practice UK L&D teams need to consider in 2022. Learn more about leveraging Collaborative Learning in our ebook: What is Collaborative Learning?

What is Collaborative Learning?

Our next essential best practice? Incorporate mobile learning into your L&D strategy.

3. Implement a mobile learning solution

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are more open to offering hybrid, flexible, or fully remote working options. With this new way of working, organisations must reach learners where they are. For many of us, this means on our smartphones.

The ubiquitous nature of smartphones (and tablets—just over half of Brits own one of those), makes them an excellent hub for upskilling and professional development. Learners can complete bite-sized courses on the way to work, during a 10-minute at-home break, waiting in line at the post office, or pretty much anywhere else.

Implementing a mobile learning solution is a great way to create a seamless learning experience, and organisations are opting for this type of solution more and more. In fact, 70% of UK companies have reported they’ve increased usage of mobile device-based learning over the last two to three years. 

So what should you look for in a mobile learning solution? Checking off these criteria will help you create a mobile learning experience that meets your learner's expectations:

  • Real-time updates across devices—opt for an app that allows you to reach your mobile audience just as easily as your desktop learners for increased ROI of course creation.
  • Timely push notifications, gamification, and an immersive UX/UI—these features make mobile learning lively, engaging, and delightful. 
  • Fostering collaboration and connection no matter where your learners are—an app that enables learners to ask questions and get answers in real-time will drive greater engagement. 
  • Offline sync—this facilitates continuous learning without worrying about devices or signal.  

Mobile learning will be critical in reaching your learners in 2022 and beyond. But to execute a mobile learning strategy you need a learning management system (LMS) in place first.

4. Invest in the right collaborative learning management system 

Learning management systems are the foundation of online learning. A modern, collaborative LMS platform lets you create, distribute, and manage your learning programmes. 

But to get the most out of an LMS, you need to facilitate Collaborative Learning with the following features:

  • Fast course creation—shipping new courses and learning programmes should happen at the speed of business. L&D teams need to be able to create courses within minutes, not hours, weeks or months. Look for a solution that has a co-authoring tool as this drastically accelerates course creation.
  • Promote peer-to-peer learning—top-down learning experiences have never been engaging for anyone. Instead, use a platform that allows you to leverage subject-matter experts to help create content.
  • Distributed ownership—LMS software should have a decentralised structure that allows teams to design their own learning environments. This type of software should include group roles, content access rights by group, and group-based reports to enable small teams to have their own learning environment, whilst still providing total visibility to the central L&D team.
  • Collaborative features—discussions forums, instant feedback, and content relevancy scores will facilitate learner engagement and increased completion rates. 

Focus on these LMS features and you’re sure to build a culture of continuous learning. But what other learning solutions can you adopt to ensure you’re following L&D best practices and taking the steps to become a true learning organisation? Blended learning.

5. Incorporate the new blended learning solution

Blended learning—as many L&D teams know it—is a combination of teacher-led classroom sessions (e.g. lectures and presentations) and self-paced eLearning prepared by an instructor (e.g. video lessons, slideshow presentations and text-based modules).

The problem with this format is that it relies on top-down training, or one-way flows of information from instructor to student—hardly particularly collaborative or engaging. That’s why we here at 360Learning have been advocating a new type of blended learning solution—and this is set to really take off in 2022. 

Even before COVID-19 hit, experts were pointing toward a future defined by collaboration and digital connectivity. Today, learners expect more collaboration, personalisation and flexibility than top-down training can provide, regardless of whether it’s in-person or online. 

So what will this new blended learning look like? Well, splitting training into two types of learning is worth preserving. But it’s not about digital vs physical. Instead, training should be a combination of:

  • Synchronous Collaborative Learning—(e.g. Live video discussions and collaborative workshops in breakout rooms)
  • Asynchronous Collaborative Learning—(e.g. Collaborative Learning platforms and peer feedback on projects)

This new blended learning asks which learning experiences should be asynchronous and which should be synchronous, collaboration being the key factor for success in both cases. In addition, this new format allows faster content creation, more engaging content and it offers learners increased flexibility.

Give your employees a Collaborative Learning experience  

So, that’s a wrap. Here, we’ve outlined the five essential best practices in learning and development you need in 2022. And what do all of these have in common? They all utilise aspects of Collaborative Learning.

Collaborative Learning is key to ensuring that your learners have control over the type of training materials and opportunities they have access to. For L&D teams, developing a culture of Collaborative Learning and implementing these best practices will be imperative to creating structured learning materials and maintaining employee engagement in 2022 and beyond. 

If you want to find out more about how Collaborative Learning can help engage your employees, get in touch with one of our experts today.