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How to Easily Scale Self-Directed Learning Across Your Organization

Big Think Edge | December 19, 2017

Self-Directed Learning (SDL) empowers employees to control their own development and education. A well-executed SDL initiative can improve the speed at which employees gain new skills and increase engagement with learning content and their overall organization.

However, actually implementing a self-directed learning program throughout an entire company can be a fairly difficult challenge. Major challenges include making sure that employees are:

  1. Actively participating in the SDL initiative;
  2. Able to access learning resources when they need them;
  3. Retaining information from lessons; and
  4. Pursuing the right lessons to help them develop.

Each of these challenges adds requirements to the program that can impact its scalability.

For example, the need to make sure that everyone is participating in the SDL program and benefitting from the lessons means having some kind of oversight or monitoring. This takes time and resources that make it more difficult to scale some SDL programs across larger organizations.

Also, the accessibility of resources can be a major issue for the scalability of a SDL initiative—buying physical copies of books, testing materials, and the like, can get prohibitively expensive in a large organization.

However, there is an easy way to overcome these challenges: using online learning platforms to deliver courses that are tailored to the needs of your organization.

How Using Online Resources Improves SDL Scalability

One of the biggest scalability advantages of using an online learning program is that these types of programs eliminate much of the costs associated with traditional training methods. Rather than having to buy scores of different hard-copy books and ship them to individual offices, it’s possible to give each employee access to learning resources instantaneously and on-demand via their laptop, smartphone, or another Wi-Fi enabled device.

This makes it incredibly easy to scale a self-directed learning initiative across an organization—especially if the established employee development solution allows for unlimited “seats” for employees to access resources.

Online learning platforms also make it simple to accurately track each employee’s progress in a specific employee development course. Analytics on when employees access training resources, how long they watch each video, how they perform on assessments, and more, can all be collected—allowing you to track the performance of your learning program and identify areas for improvement if needed.

By collecting this data automatically, monitoring the success of employee development is streamlined, and thus more scalable, since it doesn’t take as much time and effort to accomplish.

Going Beyond Scalability

While scalability is important for the success of a SDL program, it is far from being the only concern. The learners in your organization still have to engage with the actual content of the lessons and retain the information.

Part of ensuring the success of a SDL program is knowing how to introduce it to your organization. This includes:

  • Having a “Desired Skills” List. A major part of a successful employee development initiative is making sure the right lessons are available to your employees. Creating a list of desired skills and tailoring SDL courses/resources to match that list can help prevent wasted time and effort spent on unnecessary training.
  • Incentivizing Learning New Skills. Employees need a reason to spend time on training rather than just focusing on their day-to-day work tasks. Incentives can take many forms, including monetary incentive, vacation days, and promotion/transfer opportunities to motivate different kinds of workers.
  • Making Learning Resources Engaging. Rote lectures by impersonal teachers aren’t likely to inspire engagement or be particularly memorable. However, short-form videos featuring hands-on life lessons from renowned industry experts that the learner respects can do a lot to increase engagement. It’s one thing to be told that “vision is important for leadership,” but it’s another thing altogether to hear a personal anecdote from Elon Musk on the founding of SpaceX and how he’s disrupted an industry (again).

Scalability is important for making sure that training resources can reach each employee in your organization. However, it’s just as important to make sure that the right resources are getting to your employees when they need them, and that the lessons they take are related to your organization’s needs.

Discover more about self-directed learning and how you can tailor a SDL program to meet your organization’s needs by contacting Big Think Edge and requesting a demo today!

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Big Think Edge

Big Think Edge Big Think Edge is a one-of-a-kind organizational development solution that brings world-class learning programs to entire organizations, at scale, in the form of short video lessons from the best global thinkers and doers.