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Opportunity Issue 103

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).

Why eLearning is crucial

Why eLearning is crucial in our brave new world How do L&D practitioners keep re-equipping professionals with the insights they need, asks Michael Hanly, Managing Director of New Leaf Technologies. Credit: Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash There is no question that our work lives are being disrupted more than ever before, with the acceleration of change occurring across our daily interfaces, routines and work culture. The increasingly competitive business environment, rising complexity and the digital nomad revolution is dramatically reshaping the workplace mix of employees. While a subset of full-time knowledge workers has been the norm, companies are now seeking out talent, rather than talent coming to them. As businesses and economic demands shift, so do the skills required to do the new jobs that are being created. The increase in job automation has catalysed the demand for retraining, upskilling and reskilling. Simultaneously, the change is resulting in widening skills gaps and employee attrition. Especially in today’s recruitment cycles, it is becoming harder to effectively induct new hires remotely while bridging the gap to productive performance where time is of the essence. Training is vital for employers to support digital needs at the speed of change and so the scope of Learning & Development (L&D) beyond regular training practised within organisations has been greatly elevated. The question is: how do L&D practitioners keep re-equipping professionals with the insights they need to stay relevant in their professions? The fact is that many organisations don’t have the internal capacity needed to design, implement and manage multiple training solutions for multiple business units at the same time. That means the onus is on L&D professionals to oversee and create a systematic process to enhance an employee’s skills, knowledge and competency, resulting in better overall performance. The key is to cultivate a culture that helps individuals and groups perform better. To get the most out of any investments in training, L&D leaders must embrace a broader role within the organisation and formulate an ambitious vision for the L&D function. An essential part of this is a comprehensive, coordinated strategy that engages with departments, SMEs and the business holistically. To achieve this, proper collaboration needs to be encouraged, with the focus always on a business’s goals and objectives. Importantly, L&D professionals should constantly be on the lookout for the latest learning trends, know the pedagogic and didactical theories and track developments in digitallearning technologies. Where pedagogy speaks to the theory and practice of learning, and how this process influences 44 | www.opportunityonline.co.za

ELEARNING and is influenced by the social, political and psychological development of learners, didactics is intended to convey instruction and information-approach methodologies. Systems are evolving quickly Digital learning systems are evolving at a rapid rate, bringing out more value-added features daily that allow for effective, interactive and memorable learning experiences. It is essential to keep track of the latest technological advancements to keep on top of L&D initiatives. Traditionally, systems have been expensive to measure because many were server-based and slow, but with how technology is shaped now, there is no reason why small to medium-sized enterprises can’t have access to the same tools as bigger companies. What is required is deep-dive analytics, which is so much more than whether a learner has achieved a result or not. Questions need to be asked on whether the provided content is actually working effectively. If trends are picked up on this content, it may need to be reshaped. By studying metrics, the organisation can easily identify and measure knowledge gaps. The use of Excel spreadsheets, which have to be downloaded, filtered and added to before being sent to other stakeholders, can be an incredibly time-consuming process. The New Leaf Training Intelligence System for the aNewSpring online-learning platform can be configured in such a way that it can be analysed once and thereafter provide meaningful, analytical dashboards that happen in real time. It can assess where there are currently gaps, where there may be gaps in the future, and what sort or interventions can be looked at. Another key aspect is personalisation. With adaptive learning, where a learning experience is tailored to the skills, understanding and interests of individual learners, rather taking a "one-size-fits-all" approach, the instructor creates an outline that defines the relationships between the content items and their most effective order. This adapts based on a series of defined rules by using algorithms to detect a user’s needs and provides personalised recommendations. This learner-centric and accelerated approach to content delivery can greatly reduce overall learning time and increase knowledge uptake that addresses an individual’s knowledge gap. With the dawn of the Metaverse on the horizon, and virtual reality/ augmented reality and immersive technologies entering the realm of training, a new and completely different learning experience awaits. Artificial intelligence (AI) can take a much broader set of learning variables and quickly turn them into personalised learning paths. It has unlocked more capability to address specific and personalised knowledge gaps. On the other side of the spectrum, there are tools such as Wildfire that unlock training material creation through AI, essentially creating eLearning materials based on the specific outcomes the individual would like the learning experience to deliver. The deployment of a training solution can be easy, provided the solution meets relevant needs, is fit-for-purpose and supports the achievement of business goals by promoting a human capital advantage. But it also requires a focused, pragmatic approach involving specialised solutions to ensure every member of the organisation is au fait with the strategy. Failure to do so effectively renders it useless to owners, managers and employees. One of the big advantages of implementing trainingintelligence systems is cost-saving. Companies often don’t account for all the costs associated with classroom training – the juice and biscuits, out-of-office time and the cost to company for non-productivity. That is why having training intelligence mapped to behavioural metrics, bottom-line metrics and safety metrics is so insightful and valuable. Businesses ultimately want to account for every rand spent on training and see real-time evidence on performance indicators. Another benefit is accessibility. The system detaches a learner’s geographic location to an exam that needs to be taken, while also taking out a lot of administration and the human-factor errors when it comes to assessing and moderating examinations. Essentially, it saves money while being more efficient. And because there is far more automation with remediation and communication, the skills divide is bridged faster. About New Leaf Technologies Hanly is Managing Director of South African end-to-end digital learning service provider, New Leaf Technologies. He has been in the e-learning industry for more than 10 years, overseeing a variety of projects in the corporate training space, working on a multitude of well-known brands such as Bidvest, Nando's, Allan Gray, Nissan and the Emirates National Oil Company. He has also developed high-level strategic eLearning programmes across a variety of sectors. Michael Hanly www.opportunityonline.co.za | 45

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