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Social, mobile and gaming: the new training tools

As technology and workplaces change, the way we learn needs to adapt to meet the new needs of your employees. Classroom learning and traditional online courses aren't sufficient on their own anymore, but what replaces it? From social media and mobile technology to gaming and virtual tools, there is a lot to learn and there are lots of tools available.

Which tools are right for your organization?

Join us for the "New Paths to Learning: Emerging Trends in Learning and Development" webinar on May 15. Click the Global Knowledge logo below for details, or visit:

Watch the previous video in this series: Embrace new paths to learning

Video transcript below:

Caitlin Nobes, HRM Online
Caitlin Nobes:
 Welcome to Part 2 of Global Knowledge’s New Paths to Learning at Work, helping you link new technologies to on the job training.

New Paths to learning at Work – Part 2/3

Caitlin Nobes:  So you mentioned social learning.  What do you mean by that and what is its role in training?

Tom Gram, Global Knowledge, Senior Director, Leadership & Business Solutions
Tom Gram:
 Yeah social learning, it can be a pretty broad concept and it means different things to different people, but at Global Knowledge we see it as the use of social media in all of its forms for learning and development purposes, quite simply.  So by social media, I am talking about things like Linkedin and Twitter and Facebook and basically the web is a social environment now.  So taking advantage of those types of tools for, to help people learn in the environment through the types of informal learning approaches we were talking about earlier.  Although in the workplace tools like Twitter and Linkedin and Facebook are, these are public.  And consumer tools internally inside organisations, there are tools that serve the same purpose, so some of these consumer tools.  I am thinking of things like Connections and Yammer and VMware, collaborative tools that are emerging that are inside the firewall, if you want to think of it that way.  So at Global Knowledge we think about using these social tools in four ways for Learning and Development.  

Support for formal training
The first is as an adjunct or even as sort of like a back channel if you want to think of it that way for formal training.  So a classroom program can be going on and have a whole social environment that supports it.  

Collaboraive online learning 
Secondly, these types of collaborative tools can be used in a way that are integrated and are central to the learning program itself.  So teams of people can be working remotely in a social media environment or a social networking environment, working on business cases and solving case studies that are part of a learning program.  So in this way we are starting to spill away from formal learning and enter into that informal learning approach that we were talking about earlier.  So that would be sort of as an adjunct to instructor led learning used as a collaborative type of learning integrated into the program.  

Communities of practice
Another approach would be to develop Communities of Practice.  So these environments are for people to work together in an online environment using a social networking type of tool, where they can share information with each other, share best practices, upload documents, talk about what worked, what didn’t work, these are the types of things that people do when they work every day, but learning is a by product of that kind of activity.  So the more learning professionals and HR folks can support and pull new information and new best practices out of those activities, that’s what we mean by Communities of Practice for learning and development.  

Integrated in the workflow
And then finally these types of tools are just emerging as tools that people use every day on the job and as I mentioned before, learning is just a wonderful by product of using collaborative tools.  So when people work together they learn and the challenge for learning and development people is to simply capture that learning and format it and structure it in ways that they can feed back into the organisation to help others.

Caitlin Nobes:  You mentioned mobile learning.  Isn’t it just traditional e-learning delivered to a new device like a smart phone or a tablet?
Tom Gram:  Yeah, it can be that, it can be that and sometimes it is.  But can you imagine an e-learning program, an interactive e-learning program on a smart phone, you know with the small bit of real estate you are trying to interact with the program.  So it doesn’t always work so well, it can work with, in a tablet environment where you have a little bit bigger screen.  

Remote learning & performance support
So mobile learning is more than that.  It’s some restructuring and redesigning information so that it’s available on demand, as needed by people that are using that device.  Sometimes it can be a full e-learning program if you have a tablet device.  So really there is the new challenges trying to design something appropriate that meets the need in the workplace, that is suitable for that particular device.  

Local apps or web based
And there is also another challenge with mobile devices in that some of the learning applications that might be developed can be developed as an application that is, that sits on the local device or it can sit on a website that’s accessed by that device.  So those pose challenges as well for how you approach the design and development of information and e-learning that’s going to be delivered by a mobile device.

Caitlin Nobes:  So how is learning being affected by generational differences?
Tom Gram:  A good question.  There are differences in the way Gen-Y and millenials, the approach that they bring and the preferences that they have for learning when they enter the workplace. They are a little bit less patient for classroom and traditional approaches to learning and want information and resources available to them while they work, you know.  So it really does match up nicely to the types of approaches we have been talking about so far.  And also the popularity of video games and gaming approaches, I mean you can see the use of games in other parts of business now as business pros sometimes, administrative and other types of business processes are being gamified.  

Applying game mechanics to achieve learning goals
Well the same thing is happening in learning.  So  things like game mechanics and game thinking and badges and points and leader boards are being brought into the design of learning programs as well.  And it sort of happens in two ways.  

Gaming in the learning
One is like structuring a game with, sorry a learning program with those game elements are included in it or embedded in it, but also those game structures and game approaches are being used to motivate and engage learners, employees to access traditional training.  

Gaming to support learning
So far example you know they may access an e-learning program or a classroom training program and in doing so and applying those skills on the job, they can earn points and move up the leader board.  

Social gaming to promote engagement
So it adds sort of a friendly element of competition to the whole notion of learning, which starts to engage employees and motivate their interests in different ways than traditional training did.

Caitlin Nobes:  Watch the HRM Newsletter for the next instalment with Global Knowledge expert, Tom Gram discusses the long term implications of new learning techniques for HR.
Want to learn how to bring these New Paths for Learning into your organisation, register for the free webinar with Tom Gram, details below this video.