By Kirti Seth with Swati Saini
Gone are the days when classroom learning was considered as the prime delivery method of learning and development. While it still remains irreplaceable in many learning situations, organizations are now depending more on online learning solutions to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse and multi-generational workforce. Key factors spurring online learning, are, affordability, flexibility, accessibility and the effectiveness of interactive learning. 69% of Indian IT professionals feel that online learning is more impactful than offline training. By 2021, more than half a million people in India are expected to pay for online courses to reskill themselves in technology, spending around $463 million.
How is the tech industry driving online learning?
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), online discussions and virtual classrooms are just some of the many tools that are helping recreate powerful learning experiences for online learners. The industry is constantly experimenting with innovative ideas that motivate learners to not only complete the courses, but to actually enjoy learning the skills and knowledge set before them. Here are 6 key ways how leading tech firms are making online learning more efficient, engaging and ultimately more effective:
- Microlearning: This approach refers to the breaking up of content into smaller, focused bites that can fit naturally into an employee’s daily flow of work. This makes it easier to process the knowledge bite. E.g., courses on Mindtree’s home-grown platform, Yorbit, are structured as bite-sized modules, which allow for easy assimilation. They are organized as 101, 201 and 301 courses, based on the depth of skill they cover. The platform has been widely embraced, with 90% of Mindtree minds having completed their courses on Yorbit.
- Learning through crowdsourcing: Though it may be trendy right now, crowdsourcing is not a newly invented approach. It has been around for years, allowing organizations to tackle a wide range of challenges, from designing a new product, to solving a particular problem. It is now beginning to impact the way individuals learn as well, building up their skill sets, while they complete more complex and creative tasks. E.g., at Wipro’s TopGear platform, real projects are presented as challenges to employees where they can compete and win cash rewards. In the process, they gain hands-on experience in emerging digital skills. Till date, over 92,000 employees have registered on the platform. There are about 38,000 users who have completed one or more learning assignments, and over 3,000 employees who have won cash rewards.
- Collaborative Learning: Many organizations are employing engaging tools to facilitate better learning amongst their employees, rather than using passive content. The Livestream feature on the NASSCOM FutureSkills platform allowed [x]cube labs to create a powerful learning experience very quickly. Two experts conducted a ‘Jugalbandi’ or duel on a technology topic. As they livestreamed the conversation, questions from the audience led to an interactive session that was then directly uploaded to the platform. The viewership and completions on this piece of content was amongst the highest [x]cube experience, indicating that content that is topical, engaging and has context within the organisation has massive takers.
- Learning Analytics for understanding employees’ learning behavior patterns: Learning analytics include measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data on learners and their behaviour in the online environment. Data drawn from Learning Management Systems (LMS), Learning Experience Platforms (LXP), Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS) and Recruitment Systems can be used to derive rich insights on what learners are doing, forms of e-learning content they like and things they don’t like. For example, quality control of employees’ learning journey is done by following their learning journey at Genpact. They have used the Edcast LXP to capture granular data on how much the person has learnt, what skills they have acquired and what they have learnt about. The data is there for everyone to use. The strategy around it is what makes it effective or irrelevant.
- Continuous Learning: A focus on continuous learning is especially critical in today’s workplace, where technologies, processes and how we interact with them are changing constantly. Employers are therefore taking an active role in cultivating the right learning environment. WNS Education, the newest entity in WNS’s learning function focuses on building hard-core skills amongst associates. It operates like a university, wherein students know exactly what they need to learn because of a set curriculum. While some companies leave it to the learner to decide what they need to learn, WNS has followed a format that learners are accustomed to and provided a guided journey. This curriculum offers use-cases, applications and news on recent updates in technology on a regular basis with updated content from the NASSCOM FutureSkills platform, allowing for continuous learning. Curated content from validated sources, matched to what the learners want to learn, helps them stay in touch with what they have learnt in the their formal sessions.
- Learning through play: It is not just children who learn through play, adults do as well. Research shows that at any age, games do a better job of activating the cognitive functions that help individuals learn better in comparison to standard approaches of training. E.g., Infosys has employed a cricket theme based leaderboard with rewards in its gamified platform, ‘Accelerate’. The platform aims to maximize the potential of Infosys’s talent that is currently trained and in between projects by connecting them with short-term project opportunities, posted by project creators. The leaderboard incentivizes top scorers by tapping into their competitive spirit, acting as a powerful engagement tool. Accelerate has seen tremendous response since its launch.
Unlike earlier times, when employees learned to gain skills for a career, the career itself has now become a learning journey. From microlearning, to social learning, to learning through play, it’s a fascinating journey packed with innovative ideas that is making learning more interesting and easier. These learning trends provide a good indication of where the industry is heading. It is about continuous learning and growth that is helping employees keep pace with the rate of technological change.
 Pluralsight Study: New Pluralsight Studies Reveal Learning Styles of the Indian IT Professional and Innovations in Learning in India
 Study on online education in India by KPMG & Google
 Mindtree Annual Report 2017-18
 NASSCOM Reskilling series – Wipro’s Journey
 NASSCOM FutureSkills – [x]cube case-study (2019)
 NASSCOM Reskilling series – Genpact’s Journey
 ‘Using gamification for employee engagement’ https://www.peoplematters.in/article/lnd-week/using-gamification-employee-engagement-12387?media_type=article&subcat=gamification&title=using-gamification-employee-engagement&id=12387, ‘How Infosys is tapping into Gamification’ https://content.timesjobs.com/how-infosys-is-tapping-into-gamification/articleshow/57945384.cms