A successful business is created through continuous, collaborative and purposeful learning

“In the global economy, producing knowledge and learning are viewed as means for organizational success.” (Tikkamäki, K.2006).

The rapidly changing or evolving world and global markets have made sure that everyone is on their toes when it comes to education and learning also in the field of business. Another phenomenon tightly related to this time are the feelings of meaningfulness regarding work. In this text, I refer to the term as something that connects an individual’s values to the task at hand and helps employees and professionals feel like the task is worthwhile doing for the sake of the persons themselves, but also the organization and the society at large. Individuals need to see the purpose of what they do to become and stay motivated, and committed.  

In this blog, I explore the relation of meaningfulness and learning through three aspects, participation, collaboration, and continuity. As a disclaimer, I state that meaningful learning is reached through participating individuals in designing learning initiatives, supporting collaborative information sharing, and knowledge construction through continuous practice and refinement. The meaningfulness of learning is the key driver for competence development and the capability of organizations to renew themselves and thrive across time.   

  

Participation  

Commitment is created by participating learners, or let us say, employees, in designing what kind of training they need or might benefit from in regards to their work and with the changing world. Because, to be honest, it is truly the ones involved with the everyday practices and tasks that are the best to identify the challenges and problems involved in their work to which then management can offer appropriate support mechanisms such as training, together with relevant partners. To foster the feelings of autonomy, purpose, and meaningfulness, key aspects for motivation, let your employees take part in selecting what training is best for them and help them self-evaluate what they need as individuals and as teams.  

  

Collaborative learning  

Collaborative information sharing over case studies or events, or pieces of new information or transformation, is the key to bring out tacit knowledge. The more practical the work, the more tacit or hidden knowledge is accumulated through a person’s working years regarding how to best handle certain situations, for example. Individual employees easily become invaluable, even irreplaceable, and are in a key role in redefining company practices. In online learning, learning content itself can work as contextual assignments to bring out hidden knowledge and provide a platform to construct new knowledge, ideas, and innovations.   

  

Continuous learning   

Since the world, businesses, and jobs change, something learned 20 or even just a few years ago most likely is not viable anymore. So as a leader of today and tomorrow, be sure to offer your employees and yourself continuous learning opportunities for updating competence, to reskill, to reward yourself and your staff, to help your staff stay competitive on the job market. Also, be sensitive towards the information you get from your employees regarding the future scenarios of your organization and the needs for further education.  

About the Author

Solja Sulkunen works as Head of Customer Experience in Claned Group creating the best possible learning experience for all Claned users. She ensures everyday fast and easy deployment of the platform for our new users.


Pedagogical scripting is the backbone of learning success

When you know why you are producing the course for and you know your learners, it is still not the time to produce any content yet. Instead, you need to create a pedagogical script to guide the content and course production. “Well planned is half done” applies here, too.

A pedagogical script is a project plan for your course production build on insights about the learners, the learning outcomes, and evaluation criteria.  Without a clear course flow, purposefully selected contents, and  meaningful learning activities, your learners won’t know what will be expected of them and won’t perform as well as they could.

When designing learning activities, course creators should keep in mind that learners have plenty of real-life experiences in their pockets. Utilize this and make your course as directly meaningful to your learners as possible. By applying what is learned or by utilizing real-life experiences in social knowledge construction (building knowledge together with fellow learners around a particular  topic) you  can enable the famous transfer effect – your learners will start using what they learn in real-life situations as well.  This helps your learners to see the impacts and benefits of participating in your course in a very concrete way.

To help course creators with this task, Claned has created Learning Design Program (step-by-step pedagogical templates and workshops)  for this purpose. This way you don’t have to be an educational expert, but you can still construct your course flow and its content in a way that supports learning and the learning experience optimally.

Your course has now a pedagogical structure and a purpose with defined learning outcomes. Now you need to make sure your learners understand them, too. You need to  explain to your learners how you intend the course content to be studied, what kind of materials and tasks you have included, what is the timeline for the course, what are the evaluation criteria for this course, and so forth. By explaining and showing your learners how you want them to behave, you are much more likely to receive that kind of  behavior, too.  This kind of prediction helps to increase motivation and prevent feelings of frustration.

The last thing to remember before creating a top-notch service experience for your learners is to allocate enough time and human and monetary resources for your production. Do not think that you can just transform your classroom content into online courses directly, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. You need to put your mind to the course production and maybe even search for a trustworthy partner to steer you to the final line. Online learning has arrived to stay, and we can help your courses become the most desirable ones.

If you are interested in our hands-on learning workshops for creating successful online courses, email us at support@claned.com

About the Author

Solja Sulkunen works as Head of Customer Experience in Claned Group creating the best possible learning experience for all Claned users. She ensures everyday fast and easy deployment of the platform for our new users.


Why does service design matter when creating online courses?

Service design has been on everyone’s lips for a while now. Companies are not selling only products anymore, instead they are selling services and experiences with or without involving a physical  product. When producing digital courses learners are expecting more than just being able to access courses online. They are hoping to gain additional value that they can channel into their professional or private lives.

 

Adding value to online learning with service design

Service design in online learning is about designing the whole learning process through the learners’ eyes from the moment learner becomes aware of your course to the moment they have completed it, and even after. To be able to create high-quality learning service, educators and course providers need to rethink how their learning programs benefit the learners, and in what kind of world do they live in.

For us at Claned, this is the mindset we have when assisting our customers in creating successful learning experiences and thus tangible value for their organizations.

Companies  producing the courses often tend to concentrate on the commercial advantages they gain instead of taking their learners’ perspectives. Because online learning is still in its infancy, some easy wins can be made just by relying on heavy marketing and sales. However, as the quality and understanding of best practices in an online setting improve,  and competition increases, the overall experiences of learners and their reviews become more and more critical. So, if you want to succeed in the long run, start paying more attention to your end-customers now.

 

Delivering more valuable learning experiences to learners

Let’s start by paying more attention to what your learners want and how to deliver it to them? You can start by understanding the problems or questions your learners are hoping to solve during  or with the help of your course. Define your learning outcomes based on these needs and use them as the backbone of your course. Remember that a strong learning outcome is not “Participants have learned  x, y, z” because the verb “learn” it’s too vague and thus difficult to measure. A suitable learning outcome is a statement about what the learners will be able to DO after completing a learning unit i.e. “Participants can describe and reason two impacts of human behavior to climate change”. The objective is now specific, measurable, and observable.

Once you have your outcomes figured out, you dive in further to your learners’ worlds e.g. through existing research materials or direct questionnaires. Who are they? How do they spend their average day?  When do they study? How skilled are they with technological tools and devices? What motivates them in their professional and private lives? This way you learn to understand your customers better and how to engage them.

If you are not able to get this information directly from your customers by asking or observing them, there is an alternative: learning analytics with relevant insights for supporting successful learning outcomes. Our customers use Claned learning analytics to know which topics interest learners and to understand their studying habits better, for example. This approach helps them improve their course offerings.

If you are interested in our hands-on learning workshops for creating successful online courses, email us at support@claned.com

About the Author

Solja Sulkunen works as Head of Customer Experience in Claned Group creating the best possible learning experience for all Claned users. She ensures everyday fast and easy deployment of the platform for our new users.


Fostering connectivity and engagement in online learning

Fostering connectivity and engagement in online learning – how to do it and why should you even care? 

A rapid movement from live education to online versions is a big leap. Organization HR, teachers, education providers, trainers, you name it, are making huge efforts in forming online course scripts, allocating relevant existing materials, producing new ones in a speed of light, writing instructions, and designing assignments and evaluation criteria, just to name a few. Training programs and courses should’ve been active yesterday, employees and students are already waiting, and organizations are expecting to scale up and smoothen their operations already in this quartal, whether we talk about corporates, training companies, SME’s, educational institutions or NGO’s. Especially currently, during the COVID-19 crisis, things are crazy and transformation fast. There is a danger that this anxiety, insecurity, hurry, and even stress are unwantedly transferred to the otherwise so amazing online courses and training. The important question is, how can you overcome this?  

 

Viivi Pentikäinen a CEO and training program leader from Positive Education experienced first-hand this rapid and, according to her own words, even unpleasant change of moving from live training to online programs. She has always believed in people coming together, connecting personally, sharing their thoughts and feelings, and experiencing the feeling of being together, a team, a community. But she, too, had to bow in front of COVID-19 and figure out how to adjust her business to the new order of the world.

“There was no choice left but to start transferring our materials, training programs and learning to an online format. Of course, the first versions of our training programs were pretty much hard-wired, not so pretty, but we made it. We were able to get our content online and keep running our training programs. For us, the most important thing, as well as a concern, was to figure out how to help learners to maintain the feeling of social connectivity as a group as well as a sense of well-being even when studying online. Another thing that we paid a lot of attention to was to figure out how to build and maintain a safe learning environment and encourage dialogue in an online environment. These are things our training are known and praised for, in addition to the quality of content, and what our customers kept in high value.” Viivi says that she sighed from relief and even wrote in social media about it when she got customer feedback thanking Positive Education for being able to create such a warm and welcoming, inspirational atmosphere in their online learning environment.  

 

So, what did Viivi and Positive Education do right?

Here are some tips on how to create a safe and encouraging atmosphere for your online course environment and how to ensure the feeling of social connectivity even when studying online.  

1) People first – Social connections are a must! For Positive Education it is important that people know each other and trusts each other when they learn together. They use online live sessions actively for strengthening the social connectivity of the group, not so much for teaching new content and without very intense learning objectives. They have assignments over which learners can get to know each other, share ideas, and team up. “We had people call a study partner from the group and just chat how everyone was feeling at the beginning of the learning modules as a way to add social connectivity at the beginning of each module,” Viivi says.  

2) Good instructions with a personalized message create a safe learning environment. Remember that not everybody is used to or comfortable studying online. For some people just logging on to a new platform might cause anxiety and negative feelings that in turn make learning not optimal. Good instructions and welcoming introductory videos on how the learning process will unfold provide people with a safe feeling because now they know what is coming and how to proceed. Also, a personalized greeting from the teacher to the learners give a sense that the learners are important and that the teacher is “walking with them” on the study path. “I am terrible at following instructions and impatient if I don’t understand something right away which makes me pretty good at writing instructions because I make them SO clear that even I would understand them!” Viivi laughs.  

3) Take breaks, recovery, and wellbeing seriously. With live training, there are a lot of things that enhance wellbeing that is not present when studying online. In live training, most people get energy from social interaction, discussions, and even coffee breaks during the teaching sessions. It is important to include restorative practices, breaks, and wellbeing sessions such as mindfulness moments to an online learning experience to strengthen wellbeing and energy levels during the study time.  

4) You get learning engagement by engaging people. A successful online learning experience is one where the learner feels engaged during the learning process and completes the learning tasks. If the learning experience is not engaging people drop out. So, to get more engagement you need to involve and engage people in the learning process personally. A good way is to ask questions, add personal reflections and commentary assignments, and utilize activating, emotional hooks to catch the learners’ attention.  

5) Use humor and activate positive emotions as much as possible! Humor and sharing of positive emotions connect people. Laughter clears out the tension and anxiety and is often created together when teams feel secure enough. It is a good idea to use laid back wordings in your instructions, materials, and assignments and smile during video conferences. Laughing about your own mistakes and showing your learners that even though learning might not always be so fun, you can still have fun in your learning group, are essential in helping your learners relax, too. Or why not share jokes at the beginning of the zoom-session?

“Here is one of our favorite shared to me by my son: “Most students know that pressing the control+f4 key is used to exit a game or a meeting. So, when teachers ask students for advice on, for example, how to get the brightness up or the camera on, be aware of the reply is: …just press the control+f4! – bye-bye, teacher!”  

 

So, what do you think? Have you remembered to include elements to your online courses that foster social connectivity, dialogue, feelings of togetherness, and make the environment psychologically safe and engaging?

Not to worry if this has been forgotten during all the hassle, you have plenty of time and iterations to start doing small changes and additions, one by one. And of course, we are happy to help!

Our mini course on the topic will be out for purchasing already this spring. If you are interested, contact us at info@claned.com to be the first one to get it. 

About the Author

Solja Sulkunen works as Head of Customer Experience in Claned Group creating the best possible learning experience for all Claned users. She ensures everyday fast and easy deployment of the platform for our new users.