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SkillaJourney – an adaptive and verifiable learning experience

Mobile learning is increasingly popular

Within L&D departments for companies in all sectors, the demand for mobile learning in on the rise: the mobile learning market worldwide is projected to grow more and more, reaching over US$78.5 billion by 2025 from an estimated US$22.4 billion in 2020. Almost everybody has a mobile phone these days; these devices act as ‘digital companions’ in most of what we do. So it makes sense to include learning in that mix of activities.

Skilla noticed the growing movement to mobile a long time ago: that’s why all our courses have been designed to be mobile-friendly for many years. However, more recently, we’ve also developed a learning solution that fully embraces the use of phones, and optimises it for learning: skillajourney, our mobile app for applied learning. Feedback on this solution from a number of clients using it in sectors such as banking, automotive and retail has been extremely positive.

At Skilla, we wanted to create an immediate, intuitive and incentivised learning experience that facilitates interactive learning on-the-job: it quickly became obvious that mobile devices were the perfect place to make that happen. As language-learning and sports apps have demonstrated, well-designed mobile apps can be a highly effective way to increase learning retention and engagement. As a channel, mobile can facilitate quick, condensed and responsive learning opportunities at the learner’s point of need.

Inspiring ‘learning by doing’

What is it that puts skillajourney at the forefront of L&D and edtech mobile apps? It prioritises the power of learning by doing. The app doesn’t just allow people to complete courses anytime, anywhere, but it enables them to use those courses as an integral part of their on-the-job tool kit. For example, a group of sales executives can have client management learning content in the form of prompts integrated into their client engagement process. This empowering integration of the learning process with working practice delivers new efficiencies. 

SkillaJourney: an immediate, intuitive, and incentivised learning experience that facilitates interactive on-the-job learning

The format we use for content in the mobile learning app is based on learning cards, adapted for mobile viewing, which are reminiscent of the flashcards you may remember, proven as effective learning aids. Phone screens are the perfect size to convey, for example, a concise checklist of objectives for leadership qualities, or digital competencies, or sales scripts – the pocket sized format lends itself well to the process of committing to memory via cognitive, visual-spatial and tactile stimuli. 

As a content creator, Skilla wants to ensure that content delivered to the learner is fit for purpose, meets the pre-identified needs and enhances the learning agility both of the individual and the organisation. In essence, to be optimally effective, the learning needs to be adaptive. So content is fed through on an incremental basis, and adapted to the learners in the process, and assessment is built-in. 

The pattern is microlearning content (learning card, video, podcast, mini-infographic) – quiz – response – adapted microlearning content – quiz – response etc., with the learner building their profile and capability visibly via badges and leader boards, and the L&D manager able to manage individuals and groups according to their level of proficiency, follow progress at a glance and adapt the content access to the requisite level.

That ‘just as appropriate, just enough, just in time’ approach to learning is hugely effective for knowledge acquisition. For skills and training that need to be put into practice regularly, having immediate and easy access to the relevant content on their mobile device creates a huge boost in application among employees, and knowledge retention too.

While we can and do provide the entire solution, including our own specialist soft skills, leadership, digital content, skillaJourney is often co-created with the client, as you would expect given its adaptive nature. Customers can upload their own content to the app, and we work with them to transform it and integrate it into an effective interactive and personalised micro-learning experience, supported by communication campaigns.

Build an online learning community outside the office

Another great benefit of using a mobile app like skillaJourney for training is that learners operate within a community of learning within their organisation, which can be organised and stimulated as managers and L&D managers see fit. For users, Skilla’s app is a hub for social learning for them and their fellow learners.  

Each learner gets their own profile on the app, and can join or be added to groups or cohorts. Typically, these groups have L&D facilitators that oversee activities for them, assigning courses and access at appropriate levels, and occasionally sending out push notifications when necessary. The facilitators can manage the flexibility of the app in terms of how the training is then completed: it can be synchronous or asynchronous, or a blend of both, with strict or relaxed or stage-post deadlines. 

Real-time assessment and feedback capabilities mean that learners are constantly able to improve and locate target areas to work on. The phased and adaptive delivery of content at appropriate levels enables a strong degree of personalisation in the learning experience. Skilla’s learning app also makes it easy for managers and leaders to keep track of how everyone is doing with comprehensive learning analytics for courses, groups and individuals. 

The leaderboard is an essential feature too: employees that complete their training receive points, that reflect their engagement with the content and the successful completion of levels, and are ranked accordingly. This competitive aspect encourages learners to complete more courses, and more importantly it encourages them to pay full attention to score well in the end-of-course quiz, further reducing the risk of them forgetting content after completing each course.

Creating memorable learning experiences

Skilla’s interactive mobile learning app creates a powerful learning experience for individual learners, amplified socially as it takes place real-time within their own community. The combination of quick, condensed microlearning and question-driven interaction internalises content, while options for comments, adjustments, prompts and push notifications mean that learning becomes an active venture rather than a passive exercise in content absorption. 

As a learning solution, our mobile app requires a little time to be set up, since we ensure the solution meets the specific needs of each client; Skilla works with the client to clarify: the learning objectives of the app, the types of learner and their progression levels, the operational context to maximise on-the-job dimension, the communications campaign to ensure the solution is used optimally, and the learning outcomes to ensure results.

At Skilla we take a consultative approach to crafting learning solutions, and the mobile learning app is just one of our offers. If you have specific learning requirements that can be met by collaborating with Skilla and creating a tailored skillaJourney for you and your learners, do contact us.

We also have a skillaLibrary of off-the-shelf courses, specialising in transversal competencies and soft skills, as well as structured multi-course Learning Paths around themes such as Inclusive Leadership. Do get in touch with us for a Demo of any of these solutions and to discuss your learning needs and challenges with us! We have a track record of having helped hundreds of clients in this way already, but what is satisfying is co-creating solutions that match each client’s specific needs.


Organisational learning agility: an essential capability for surviving and thriving amid change

Organisational learning agility is an underdeveloped aspect of most businesses’ strategies. A learning agility strategy, together with related KPIs, helps organisations track, benchmark and recalibrate their learning and development objectives across the organisation, including responding and adapting to significant contextual changes, like the disruption brought on by Covid. Organisational agility depends in large part on having the ability to learn collectively and apply learning in complex and changing work contexts. So why aren’t people making more noise about it?

Organisational learning agility is not yet a fully recognised or mature area of knowledge or practice. As a learning provider, we at Skilla have seen it as core to our role for nearly two decades that we help develop organisations’ learning agility through our “multiple intelligences” method which stimulates heutagogy, our Learning Paths for key business processes such as Induction and Inclusive Leadership, and through deep L&D collaborations, for example with corporate Academies. 

We will soon publish more insights on this theme, including our evolving theory of organisational learning agility in practice. For now, we wanted to share our thoughts and conclusions so far to encourage others to raise the profile of learning agility within their organisations, and to consider how it might be driven and measured, as it will be key to maintaining efficiency and staying one step ahead in these turbulent times.

Why do we need it?

As businesses operate in an increasingly globalised marketplace, with all the challenges, risks and opportunities that this brings, and technology advances ever onwards, the world is becoming a smaller place by the day – and these changes are being massively accelerated by the pandemic. 

With the world growing smaller, then, every individual and organisation is being bombarded with more ‘noise’: more complex information for people to filter and navigate, processes to adjust to and integrate, changes to adapt to and embed. To deal with all this, besides the essential and broad set digital competencies, we need new strategies and competencies in the process of learning itself, to make the best use of the information we receive. For example, when does information become knowledge, and how do we then apply, transfer and disseminate that knowledge within the organisation, and beyond as appropriate? What behaviours help us do this effectively, efficiently and collectively?

That’s where learning agility comes into play: it involves our skill, judiciousness and efficiency in employing a range of different learning capabilities, utilising the different domains (cognitive, affective etc), learning methods, intelligences and sensory capacities to recognise, react and adapt quickly and effectively to changes in the business landscape. 

The basics of Learning Agility: An “agile” mind must let the 5 types of agility blossom by harnessing the 4 driving forces and eliminating the
retaining force.

What is organisational learning agility?

Before we explore learning agility at the organisational level, what is it in the first place? Several different definitions have surfaced over the years, but we offer this:
organisational learning agility is the capability to learn from experience at an organisational level, based on an embedded learning culture, so that individually and collectively staff can adapt to changing contexts with agility, cohesion and the optimum balance of speed and preparedness.

Learning from experience

It may be easier to first consider learning agility in the individual. For an individual, learning agility is how effective one is at employing different learning methods, approaches and strategies to adapt to changing circumstances. In other words, think of it as knowing how to tackle something, with speed and due consideration, when you don’t know what to do.

The different aspects of practising learning agility

Imagine you’ve been asked by your manager to compile a new report, using software you’ve never even seen before. Agile learners are those who, faced with that unknown, rapidly apply themselves to the problem, filtering different learning approaches, e.g. “What’s the best way to approach this? Should I read the instructions online, should I plan what I want to do before using it, should I find a colleague who can advise, or should I just experience first hand how the software works first?” – to decide the best plan of action.  

David Kolb contends that there are at least four different ‘doorways to learning’, through which learners can enter the experiential learning process: practical experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. An individual with learning agility is aware of the most appropriate doorway for them on a given challenge, before proceeding through the others. What’s more, it helps one practice different techniques to adapt to the situation and the level of complexity. If we master only one “learning style”, then our speed and accuracy will be more compromised the more complex the issue is.

The 9 techniques agile learners employ to adapt to new situations – how many of these do you use?

In the example above, the agile learner might first note the key features and commands in the software instructions, especially those needed to accomplish the task. After a period of practice and brief exploration of core features, and having established the source data, they might then start to put a test report together. Familiarising oneself with and experiencing the software, albeit quickly, is a more effective method for adapting it to the purpose than diving into the work blind, with no awareness of the tool.

For organisations, the same applies: in the face of new challenges, or blind spots discovered, how effective can the business be at learning from experience and applying it in different contexts in order to adapt? The organisation must operate as one body to respond, deciding on the best way to tackle the challenge based on considerations like ‘What have we experienced or do we know already that can help us here?’ (systems and processes obviously facilitate this); ‘Which learning tools might help us evaluate and qualify and utilise the new information?’; ‘Who’s best equipped in the team respectively to oversee the issue and to tackle each facet of it?’. In an agile learning organisation, such processes are habitual and systematised, so that results, and the right results, can be achieved more efficiently.

Embedding a learning culture

A crucial building block of organisational learning agility is that the organisation in question must have an embedded learning culture. A learning culture is one that allows, and encourages, employees to deal actively with new challenges (which can take a myriad of forms) and see these as learning opportunities, to share and collaborate in these opportunities, including taking risks (with the possibility of failure, but with support), and to reflect on both the outcomes and their own development, embedding the learning in work processes.

It’s not enough for a business to merely provide its workforce with learning resources. Of course understanding the theory is important, but without the chance to apply it in a ‘hands-on’ environment, learners won’t experience responding to challenges in real time, with real consequences, and therefore will not be able to develop their learning agility.

Even in organisations where there is understandably less room for risk-tolerance, squeezing it in where possible goes a long way in building a learning culture. Learners can practice new approaches and techniques in semi-live environments, on internal innovation challenges, on small projects, or while shadowing a colleague, or in scenario-planning workshops and exercises. They can then reflect on the outcomes and their own practice, and adapt their methods, at both the individual and organisational level, making them better equipped to face change when it inevitably comes. 

Agility: a fine balance between speed and preparedness

When developing learning agility, we should not mistake agility only for speed. Businesses  are of course under pressure to get to market first and respond to challenges, whether customer or regulation-related immediately. But the product or service brought to market has to have been efficiently and effectively tested and experienced, the regulation properly understood and applied based on past experience, if it’s done with learning agility. 

Speed is of course an important factor in exercising learning agility, but it has to be tempered with other qualities and skills, like preparedness, technique, control and  a degree of systemic thinking. An athlete doing the high jump won’t clear the bar by just sprinting towards it at full pelt and leaping: they must know where to plant their take-off foot, at what angle, how to transfer their speed into their launch height, when to snap their legs to clear the bar and so on. Without this fine level of control, and full understanding of the challenge in the round, their speed counts for little.

The same applies to organisational learning agility: instead of just responding to challenges as quickly as practically possible and considering it done, agile businesses must prepare themselves by having strategies that can be adjusted, a memory bank of learning experience (which in young businesses can come from individuals and be shared), and operations that can be effectively reconfigured to deal with new and developing roadblocks. Even if some initial speed is sacrificed here, fewer mistakes will enable the agile learning organisation to make more progress, more often and more consistently, than the knee-jerk one (the Tortoise in the end was more agile for the task than the Hare, though these days businesses need to be agile Hares!).

How do you make sure that your organisation has this balance? A good starting point is to ensure that staff, particularly those individuals responsible for leading the business and managing teams, are continually developing their Transversal Competencies – future-proof skills, like collaborative problem solving, initiative and independent thinking, resilience, adaptability – and so have the tools for learning agility and facilitating it in others too. 

In addition, an agile learning organisation has a good level of self-awareness: an understanding of how well, and how efficiently it responds to both external and internal changes. This self-knowledge enables the assignment of the right tasks to the right roles in projects and teams when tackling business issues, so that each aspect of a problem or opportunity can be dealt with in synergy by suitably skilled people, while collaborative capability and capacity is enhanced.

Change is the only constant

“The only constant in life is change” – an essential mantra for agile learners, both individuals and organisations alike. For businesses, being open and ready for change is essential for organisational learning agility, and the benefits can be enormous. Learning agility enables us to perceive patterns in changes and sometimes, to anticipate them; learning agility is a fundamental prerequisite for effective scenario planning and futures thinking, an ability which is seen as increasingly important internationally. 

When an organisation develops strategic foresight through having practised and embedded learning agility, it can react to changes in context at short notice, while adapting the long-term strategy to continue to achieve key business objectives while integrating new ones, and it is better equipped to thrive in situations like the current pandemic. 

At Skilla, our mission is to empower learning agility in both individual and organisation. We’ve recognised from the start that business learning isn’t just about the content. We employ different learning techniques, methods and intelligences in our multimedia courses for learners to exercise and make their own, so when old content is eventually replaced with new, as is often the case, they can adapt to it smoothly and skilfully. 

If you’d like to know more about practising learning agility, or if you’re interested in developing it for your organisation, don’t hesitate to get in touch! We have over 20 years of enabling learners and companies to practise agile learning, and are always researching and developing new learning formats and approaches – such as our Mobile Learning App, an adaptive learning solution – to ensure they’re as effective as can be, and to facilitate learning as part of and an enhancement to the work process, rather than a separate activity.

Finally we are currently conducting a short survey on organisational learning agility: if you would like to help shape and mature this important new aspect of Learning and Development, please check back on our homepage in a few days time, where you’ll be able to complete our survey (it’s brief and multiple-choice so will not take much of your time!).


skillapath: learning paths to meet your business needs

What are learning paths and how do they work?

For employees who need to continuously develop their skill set, to keep pace with today’s rapidly changing business world, it’s not enough to be simply provided with a list of training courses, with no focus or structured approach as to how they should engage with them. Training needs to be responsive to the needs of the business, and be capable of enabling synergic learning among staff in response to specific business processes and needs.

skillapath is skilla’s answer to this requirement for structured, business-needs responsive learning. Typically comprising 14 to 21 of our multimedia learning courses, skillapath learning paths are tailored learning packages which take learners on a journey through a given topic. 

Available both as a pre-packaged solution or a bespoke one, learning paths provide a structured, interactive learning route through a key topic such as Digital Skills or Induction via inter-related courses organised thematically, complemented with quizzes and infographics. The experience is particularly suitable for group or peer learning, combining the cognitive structured elements with the stimulation of the multimedia format to form a memorable social learning experience online. 

The ‘Digital Skills’ skillapath combines courses surrounding information and management, online communication and productivity to familiarise learners with the five crucial components of digital literacy.

The multimedia aspect is crucial for learning paths, as it is for the individual courses. Each path integrates multimedia learning objects with other components like assessment tests, infographics, an introductory video and a digital badge upon completion, resulting in the active engagement of the cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning domains, which enhances the impact, efficiency and effectiveness of the learning experience.

Bringing courses together under one theme

So how is it that a designed learning path makes learning so much more effective than simply working through individual course content? Firstly, skillapath learning paths are theme-based. That is, each course within a learning path is directly relevant to the overarching topic, and related to the other courses in the journey. 

Take our ‘Future Proof Skills’ learning path, for instance. Each course within it directly helps to develop one’s transversal competencies, which are crucial skills for negotiating the changing landscape of business. These include adaptability/flexibility, collaborative problem solving, learning to learn and continuing to learn, digital skills and mindset, and resilience, to name a few. Every skillapath is constructed in this way: other paths include ‘Leadership’, ‘Digital Skills’, ‘People Management’, ‘Interactive Induction’, and ‘Performance Management’. 

The first section of our ‘Future Proof Skills’ skillapath infographic – just one medium of many to get learners fully engaged with each course.

Make learning a coherent and memorable journey

Secondly, our learning paths are structured. As mentioned before, we use learning path-specific multimedia content, like infographics and quizzes, to bring structure, clarity and built-in assessment to each path, and make them more engaging and effective for your employees. The courses are also ordered and grouped in innovative ways to make them more memorable. 

Our ‘Interactive Induction’ journey is structured as ‘stepping stones’ divided into three stages: self-efficacy; teamwork, personal values and responsibility. Starting with the awareness and development of one’s own effectiveness in the new working context, the learning path then extends this to teamworking skills and then finally to personal and shared responsibility in organisational value like to diversity. A logically sequenced interactive journey for integrating the individual into the new social working context. 

The layout for skilla’s ‘Interactive Induction’ learning path, which is separated into three stages of self-efficacy, teamwork, and personal values and resonsibility.

Similarly our ‘Leadership’ learning path contains 3 groups of content that cumulatively orientate and develop managers and leaders towards optimal leadership: firstly, leadership of themselves; secondly, leadership of teams and finally leadership of the business. Both these learning paths share a clear key message: self-awareness together with self-efficacy is an essential foundation for effective collaboration in teams and within and across organisations. 

skillapaths create a coherent journey for your staff to follow, where each stage in the journey builds on the previous one. 

These structured thematic approaches are more effective than a mere list of courses, since when we follow a structure though a learning process, the repetition of certain similar steps commits the content to memory a lot more sustainably than learning different disconnected bits of content separately. You can see that particularly clearly when the structure is a visually distinctive one – our ‘Interactive Induction’ path’s stepping stones are very easy to visualise and refer back to, so learners can recall the ordered journey, remembering which skills are most relevant when.

You could compare using a learning path to going on a road trip through a vast country like the USA. If you just chose one landmark at random from a list and travelled there, and repeated that process until you visited each one, your trip would be totally chaotic, confusing and exhausting. You’d go from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty via San Francisco without rhyme or reason, and not fully appreciate any of them. 

However, if you instead carried a travel guide with you, with suggested itineraries, information about each place, climate, equipment required and perhaps even how it relates to the previous location (e.g. history and development or demographics ), then your journey would be more engaging, more memorable and a more effective use of your time! And in your second road trip you would be able to apply this former knowledge, so would gain far more from the experience, and be able to immerse yourself in the culture to suit your own needs.

Design your own path around your business needs

Finally, a crucial aspect of skillapaths is that, in response to the business needs of the organisations we’re working with, we can create a learning path that suits their resultant learning and development objectives.

By selecting and combining relevant multimedia training courses, creating components like videos and quizzes to galvanise and assess, and even integrating client content into the microlearning format where this required, skilla’s eLearning experts can create memorable bespoke learning paths for any organisation, working with them to co-design the optimal learning solution. 

In the coming months we will be launching a diagnostic tool for UK and international to enable you to identify the best skilla learning path solution for your current business needs and technological context. More pre-designed skillapaths will be made available in English in the coming year, though co-designed bespoke paths are also an effective way to meet your business needs with a tailor-made solution, especially in a climate of rapid change. 

As an example, a UK client partner identified a strategic need to improve their workforce’s communication skills in order to encourage more effective and efficient collaboration between people and teams. We created a skillapath with them that weaved together training courses in selected communication and collaboration skills, with the other standard learning path components. Following a carefully prepared communication campaign and managers briefings, the client rolled out the bespoke path as part of a training plan that also included our Leadership learning path; both were well-received and deemed effective in addressing the needs identified.

Learning paths are essential strategic tools

As you’re probably starting to understand, learning paths can play a strategic role within businesses, to help employees become fully conversant with difficult topics or challenging processes. The current Covid-19-shaped work situation is a pertinent example of that: digital skills have never been so crucial. Giving your learners a structured way of developing and enhancing the transversal competencies and mindset required to optimise digital working or tools to support and guide the organisation’s digital transformation makes a lot of business sense.

Given how effective it has proved, we use our learning path approach widely – even when planning online events! Our Exploring eLearning event this year was designed around tackling four pillars of the learning organisation: Learning and Inclusion, Going Digital, the Future of Learning, and Connecting Minds. We wanted to engage learning and development professionals in a cohesive journey through the defining challenges of L&D, and to get them excited about how L&D will overcome these challenges in the year to come. 
If you want to find out more about skilla, skillapath, or any of our solutions, be sure to visit our website, or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter – we’ll keep you up to date with the latest thought-provoking and ground-breaking learning articles, in the context of our own learning journey.


The Power Of Multimedia Learning

The nine forms of intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist and existential
The nine forms of intelligence – each one requires different stimulation to fully appreciate learning content.

Why use multimedia learning?

Typically when thinking about multimedia learning, most people tend to think about a course consisting of some text-based learning and perhaps an occasional video. However, true multimedia learning is a complex hybrid of multiple learning styles, aimed at giving the learner a well-rounded understanding over a given topic.

The way in which we understand intelligence and the process of learning is vastly different from the origins of the 20th Century IQ test. Kolb’s learning styles & Gardner’s multiple intelligences is recognition that there’s certainly more than one way of assessing intelligence, and that people learn in many different ways. The theory of multiple intelligences suggests that a ‘piece’ of learning needs to be presented in different ways and from different “angles” to reach everyone effectively. Sensory stimuli –  eg auditory or proprioception  – provided through multimedia components can enhance the emotional impact of the learning so that it is more memorable, especially when combined interactively with microlearning objects. 

Multiple intelligences

And that’s what we aim to achieve at skilla through multimedia learning – to provide learners with a coherent understanding of their given topic through a combination of concise visual, literary, tactile, or audio components, all designed to appeal to a wide range of learning styles, whilst also helping learners on their journey, by providing a comprehensive learning experience. 

Howard Gardner makes the case that people have eight or nine intelligences (existential intelligence was added to the original eight), all of which are all stimulated in different ways. For full engagement and comprehension  – and most importantly retention – of a topic, then, most of these intelligences (if not all!) need stimulating: that’s why taking an approach that caters to all the intelligences is an inclusive way of deploying learning that can reach everybody equally.

Catering to the multiple intelligences gives the learner a sense of autonomy and ownership over their learning journey, which tends to translate to a higher degree of employee engagement when interacting with course content. For that reason, skilla courses are composed of 10 learning objects, each designed to present or reflect on the topic in a different way to the others. 

This approach supports the learner in viewing course content through different methods and lenses, bringing the subject matter to life, whilst also helping appeal to different sorts of learners. Furthermore, reviewing and engaging with bite-size microlearning at regular intervals, represented from different multimedia perspectives, is an effective way of overcoming “the curve of oblivion”, and ensuring that the key concepts are committed to memory.

An infographic explaining how to manage, design and measure engagement. It focuses on dedication, commitment, involvement, emotion, passion, trust, inspiration and stimulation
A multimedia format is crucial in today’s workplace for getting employees engaged in learning – keep hold of this image from our Exploring eLearning event to learn how to manage, design and measure that engagement!

Learning muscles

And that’s our aim with the skilla method at the core of our courses: not to only teach the topic in such a way that it sticks and creates enduring engagement with the concepts, but to also develop the learning muscles that give learners more autonomy, enabling empowerment, so they can make an active and adaptive contribution to making the business a learning organisation. 

Not everyone has the same innate desire to learn within their role, so for us it’s extremely important to create course material that gives a sense of learner agency to inspire the learner to want to learn, rather than merely engaging with learning material out of necessity.

Businesses across the globe are having to adapt at a rapid pace in order to keep up with current external pressures, such as the ongoing pandemic, as well as the already fast-paced and increasingly digital context, and the uncertainties and opportunities of the gig-economy. 

These changes in the way we work require staff to be more adaptable, more open to change and to cope with new job functions, requirements, procedures and qualifications. This sudden demand for much greater workforce agility is not just limited to national levels either: in many cases large organisations are having to rethink the way their teams work world-wide. 

A screenshot from a skilla learning course on multiple intelligences - a quiz asking which intelligence in used in different instances
The modern employee has be to able to adapt to the situation at hand – nurturing all their multiple intelligences will help them do just that, with each intelligence being exercised differently in day-to-day life.

In 2020, then, multimedia learning plays a vital role in ensuring employees are given the tools they need to succeed. Course content that appeals to different styles of learners, and gives a well-rounded overview of the topic increases the chance that the employee will apply the information learned within their workplace.

Learning Cards

Aside from ensuring the content is concìse, appealing and informative to the learner, it’s also important to keep in mind that the channels learners use will also ultimately influence how engaged they are with the learning at hand. skilla’s ‘Learning Cards’ is an illuminating example of how to cater to employees who live their lives through their mobile devices. 

‘Learning Cards’ are presented via an interactive mobile app/learning platform that delivers learning in micro-sized chunks – much like physical flashcards – and works wonders for getting people who prefer quick phone activities to understand and engage with key issues, and help them to retain what they learn. They can take courses in a way that appeals to them, completing courses on-the-go, or even on their breaks. 

Small changes to the learning cycle, such as adding mobile learning as an option and competition or gamified components, are another excellent way of encouraging learner agility, and instilling a sense of ownership over the learning journey.

Finally, it’s pertinent to note that it isn’t just learners who can directly benefit from multimedia learning: so can the wider L&D and HR community! skilla have been running Exploring eLearning for several years in Italy. Our aim is to conceptualise, and put into practice, innovative ways of delivering meaningful learning experiences, which has culminated in a TV studio-style learning show for L&D professionals, where we can present content in a rich variety of ways and via a diverse array of voices, including discussions and debates, presentations, and futures thinking by learning experts.

In fact, the Exploring eLearning has been so popular that we’re making it an international event! Starting in 2021, skilla will be launching an international edition of online Exploring eLearning, connecting minds and exchange practices in the fast-evolving L&D landscape – make sure you follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up-to-date with this event and all our latest news and views.


Online learning as a systemic solution rather than post-Covid classroom transition?

The danger of the single story; the pragmatism of pluralism

Simon Whittemore

While online learning can never fully replicate the in-person dynamic, especially the latter’s affective impact,  it may be helpful, given current circumstances and future probabilities, to consider online learning as a systemic solution rather than think of it as the classroom transitioned online.
I would like to make three observations in relation to this (technology sustainability, availability and neutrality is also an important issue but I won’t try and deal with that here).

1. Lifelong learning is not only a Sustainable Development Goal but also an essential feature of modern education whether professional or “academic” (domains that are becoming better integrated), given the increased rate of change plus the complexity and ambiguity within which any individual or organisation has to operate. Lifelong learning needs to be to a large extent online if we are serious about equality of learning opportunity as well as breadth and plurality of content (by plurality, I am thinking of Chimamanda Adichie’s powerful message around the danger of the single story).

Image courtesy of TED talks: https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story


2. Making online learning effective and genuinely engaging is no easy matter; in fact it is the life’s work of many fellow professionals. The design of online learning – for example embedding andragogical (e.g. cycle of experiential learning) or heutagogical principles in the design, choice of format and media, interactivity enablers, technology flexibility etc. – is a complex cross-disciplinary craft. Online learning which is able to stimulate not only the cognitive learning domain but also the social and affective is likely to be more impactful. Online learning which, in dealing with a topic, is designed to stimulate different and various aspects of our intelligence – eg visual-spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, rhythmic-musical, emotional  etc. – offers more possibilities for sustained engagement and commitment to memory, especially given that everyone has different doors to learning.

Multiple intelligences, (Howard Gardner’s theory)


3. Perhaps most importantly, the practice of learning seems to be evolving towards an ever greater degree of learner autonomy and this trend appears to be accelerating. From how teenagers teach themselves, in many cases preferring to develop their interests using a variety of online sources over the “authority” of a “teacher”, to how professionals are required to continually hone and advance their skills to stay competitive in a rapidly changing working context, there is a clear movement towards, and need for, greater autonomy. Old didactic models no longer work. But here likes a danger too: the quality, plurality and integrity of online sources is more critical than ever, as are the critical faculties of the learner. Hase and Kenyon made the case in 2003 for heutagogy (self-determined learning) and while integrating this into mainstream education can be a significant challenge (Stoszkowski and McCarthy, online 2019) with much careful guidance needed, heutagogical approaches do seem to be an effective means of developing people’s learning agility (learning to learn, continuing to learn), which is arguably one of the most important transversal competencies of this century.


An artisan learning provider appears in the LPI’s Top 30

LPI title card - The top 30 highest performing learning providers

It may seem paradoxical but skilla is an artisan learning provider that provides global solutions, including for many well-known multinationals. With learning resources present in over 50 countries worldwide, skilla is committed to offering the best possible learning solutions to organisations: that’s what drives us to produce cutting edge resources and stimulating courses for every learner. It’s for that reason that it’s such an honour to be recognised by the Learning & Performance Institute (LPI) as one of the Top 30 Highest Performing Learning Providers.

The LPI is the body for global learning professionals and organisations: recognised expertise as a professional body in defining, guiding and tracking best practices in L&D makes it an authoritative source of continuous improvement in organisational learning for all. Being ranked in the LPI Top 30 is recognition that skilla “provide the highest quality of service and best user experience. They are trusted business partners, acting always in the best interest of their clients and, as such, fully endorsed by the Learning and Performance Institute.” 

Alongside our strong desire to keep developing all aspects of what we do – be it our courses, staff, or sales & marketing efforts – to help solve L&D problems and provide new opportunities, it is our distinctive methodology and tailored learning solutions that have helped us achieve this accolade, in only our second year of LPI accreditation….

Multimedia Training Courses

Everything we do to provide great learning experiences is backed up by years of research, both skilla initiated and skilla supported. Combined with our defining principles of a digital mindset and empowering learning agility, the respected theories of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Styles and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences underpin our methodology. As a result, each one of our hundreds of courses in the skillalibrary comprises up to ten concise learning objects each in a different format or media; over 3000 rich digital learning objects in total. 

Learners can take control of their own learning – a key aspect of skilla’s heutagogical method – by prioritising the objects that appeal to their strongest learning styles, and reflecting on their learning through the other learning objects and secondary learning styles, all in small doses and a very short space if time. Keeping the brain agile is essential for operational effectiveness and peak performance in the VUCA* world we are experiencing, and splitting up then revisiting learning in this way overcomes the risk of the curve of oblivion, as key messages are continually reinforced over time.

Learning Paths

In today’s learning environment, plain off-the-shelf content isn’t enough to achieve results in the workplace. Our clients, such as Santander, Fiat Chrysler, and Miki Travel, are seeing this on a global scale: training budgets are tightening, especially in the face of the current lockdown period, and a heightened focus on employee engagement due to remote working means organisations are having to rethink their L&D strategy, and as a result are tending not to buy bulk off-the-shelf courses. Instead, they need to analyse which resources work, in which form, and also how to optimise the resources they have.

That’s why we introduced Learning Paths: skilla’s offer of themed learning journeys that can be pre-packaged or co-designed as a bespoke solution to fit the varying needs of different organisations, without the demanding budget needed to produce new content from scratch. 

Our courses are designed to work as groups of courses in topic areas, so we collaborate with clients to co-design the learning experience that suits the individual client. Based on different themes, such as future-proof skills, leadership and diversity, and including quizzes to assess learning, Learning Paths offer a more coherent and effective way to absorb complex information: with different courses contextualising one another, within a systematically presented theme. 

Learning Cards

Usually the fruit of longer-term collaboration with skilla clients, Learning Cards are our latest offering in developing, and staying at the forefront of, the workplace learning environment. 

As analysts Fosway have observed, “mobile learning is not a requirement for buyers, it’s a necessity!” (Report: 9 Grid Digital Learning, January 2020). And because people are increasingly reliant on their mobile phones, the effectiveness of mobile learning keeps increasing. 

Our Learning Cards combine the microlearning, self-learning principles of standard skilla courses with the technique of utilising flashcards, in the powerful yet flexible platform of an interactive mobile app, for dynamic and accessible learning, enriched by built-in assessment and gamification, which stimulates competition and leaderboards. Learning card solutions can be skilla content-driven, bespoke or (typically) a hybrid of the two.

Looking Forward

With skilla’s unique learning method and empowering learning solutions, we’ve demonstrated our ability to adapt our strategy to continually respond to evolving needs in the learning market, which goes a long way to explaining how skilla reached the Top 30 Learning Providers in only two years of being accredited by the LPI.

And we have no plans to slow down or rest on our laurels. By working with L&D good practice organisations such as the LPI, Fosway (we are a “solid performer” on the 2020 Digital Learning 9-Grid) and the Leadership Board, we’re continually evolving to match the shifting learning landscape, developing our programmes and courses to deliver the some of most engaging learning on offer.
If you’re interested in reading the full LPI Top 30 report, you can download that here. If you’d like to hear more from us and what we can do for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch: we look forward to hearing from you.


skilla: TOP 30 LEARNING PROVIDER

The leading authority on workplace learning, the Learning and Performance Institute has nominated skilla among the Top 30 Highest Performing Learning Providers in its latest international report.

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Letter from Italy

By Federico Amicucci, Managing Partner of skilla

‘L&D in the time of Covid-19’ part 2 

Previously, I wrote about how the changing demand for eLearning in the UK was following the trajectory of Italy’s online learning scene, and as I write this, it seems that it continues to do so. 

Our team in the UK have reported that the initial reaction of companies was to work to produce content that taught digital skills quickly to employees who could work from home, and content that consolidated on-the-job skillsets for those who were unable to work due to the Covid-19 restrictions, just as it happened in Italy. 

As the UK is now in mitigation phase 3, looking towards recovery, Italy is entering phase 4 with the majority of lockdown restrictions having been lifted. Obviously, as recent news from Spain shows, there is no room for complacency. In terms of eLearning trends, therefore, I thought it might be useful to provide an update on the situation here, to give an idea of where the UK may be heading.

eLearning as a systemic solution

At first glance, the most noticeable change from two months ago is that eLearning has stopped being a stop-gap ‘emergency solution’, and become a desired ‘systemic solution’. To begin with, companies were scrambling to pivot from face-to-face to virtual learning, development and management, and needed to learn how to produce eLearning content, as well as how to function as a remote organisation in general.

As organisations grow more accustomed to this ‘new normal’, and can operate more efficiently and coherently online, they’ve turned their attention towards the quality of virtual learning on offer. An unfortunate and unintended consequence of pursuing eLearning as an ‘emergency’ solution was that businesses became inundated with low-quality, “quick-fix” content. 

The main priority of learning providers was to convert their successful face-to-face and blended training to 100% online, not necessarily to make it perfect. As a result, companies based here in Italy noticed that many employees, who were more used to classroom learning and preferred it as a result, weren’t engaging with eLearning. To them, it was boring and a poor substitute for the training they would get when they return to the office.

Counteracting this face-to-face replacement tendency, the demand for engaging and high-quality virtual learning content shot up. We, and other L&D professionals we’ve spoken to, feel a responsibility to provide high quality, fit for purpose eLearning that will make the online experience the experience of choice for learners, even if/when offices open again. 

The (learning) revolution will be multimedia

To get learners engaged, we wanted to look beyond the new default of video conferencing systems. Companies need to understand how to make and share engaging content, without being forced to dive too deeply into their wallets. 

Training the trainer, that is, teaching L&D staff how to produce great content online, is the way to ensure that your digital learning solutions can continue to engage and reach your workforce, even as they continue to upskill in all matters digital. Furthermore, businesses need to understand that good eLearning does not require a giant budget – the content doesn’t need to be overly flashy and laden with special effects, it just needs to be presented in a way that gets the continued attention of its diverse viewers. The ability to present andragogically sound content in multiple media makes an appreciable difference. 

For example, as part of our multimedia approach, we looked for inspiration from the medium that can always get people glued to their screen: the humble television. TV shows consistently pull in audiences of every demographic, so we wanted to try and apply that formula to digital learning, to see if we could keep both younger and older learners entertained and interested in what we taught. 

Our first run at this has been aimed at helping companies facing the problem I described above: they want better quality online resources so that employees continue to utilise them in the months and years following the end of the lockdown period. We ran the Exploring eLearning: Digital Edition (our major eLearning event) as a TV-style event with 35 speakers (and hired a film director to direct it), to help people understand that good eLearning exists, and, more importantly, it can be achieved with a limited budget. And I’m pleased to report it was a great success! Over 1,000 people signed up to Exploring eLearning: Digital Edition and to watch the event, proving in its own right the power of TV studio-based approach to learning content.

As Covid-19 continues to make eLearning an essential part of standard business practice, the demand for engaging and high-quality content is rising. More and more, I’m seeing that the virus and the lockdown it caused have accelerated the differences between those who have prepared to move learning online, and those who have not: the latter are left to play catch-up to those who have spent up to 20 years laying the groundwork for virtual teaching!


L&D in the time of COVID-19: which learning resources are in demand?

By Federico Amicucci

As a Managing Partner in skilla, a leading elearning supplier to organisations’ Learning and Development in both Italy and the UK, I’ve found myself in a prime position to observe how organisations are looking after their employees during the lockdown caused by Covid-19. In particular, I hear what L&D managers want to provide to most to their staff, who in turn have had no choice but to stay at home. In the working world there have been few times when sharing information and helping others has been so important, both for individuals, for society and for the economy, so I wanted to offer my insights into the learning and training challenges we are all facing, based on what’s happened over here in Italy. 

The demand for different courses in the UK seems to be following a similar trajectory to what we have seen in Italy. Though in terms of the number of cases of coronavirus, and preventative measures taken by its government, Italy has been 3-4 weeks ahead of the UK, the easing of lockdown in Italy is mirrored by the gradual relaxation of restrictions in the UK, albeit the latter at an earlier stage in the evolution of the pandemic (and with differences among the home nations). 

The UK put in place restrictive measures on 23 March. As we experienced in Italy, there was a mixed reception to the news. Whilst some people responded by rushing to supermarkets to stockpile essential items, some concerned companies reacted by suspending staff on-mass. Many companies had to accommodate colleagues dealing with childcare due to school closures and the logistics of managing the house-bound family for the duration of the lockdown, and this of course has had to take precedence over other considerations. Many of my colleagues are working shorter hours, particularly those with children whose grandparents may have been their primary source of childcare. This is perfectly natural and we, like other employers, have done everything we can to support them.

What happened next, though, was compelling, and this is what the UK has just begun to experience. Once domestic arrangements had been settled and colleagues were fully focussed once more on work, managers considered the business requirements of remote working, and how they needed to reorganise to optimise it. In Italy, HR managers saw a massive surge in demand for three types of courses, for different segments of the workforce:

  1. For colleagues on furlough who can’t physically work from home, organisations wanted to provide formal eLearning that consolidated skill sets, thereby ensuring that they are ready and able to return to work as soon as restrictions are lifted. 
  2. For those able to work from home, the demand for courses in digital skills shot up dramatically. Obviously, everyone needed to know how to access virtual networks and hubs, but also how to work remotely and coordinate work with other colleagues.
  3. Many companies wanted to provide ‘extra-curricular’ courses to workers too, like learning to cook or play an instrument. This was the most interesting trend, as it relates specifically to the unique circumstances created by the lockdown. Firstly, organisations wanted to keep spirits up in the workforce by offering stimulating content and creative alternatives to bingeing on TV shows. Secondly, the brain can be viewed as a muscle. You’ve got to keep exercising it with new learning opportunities, even if the learning isn’t work-related, in order to keep it stimulated. Organisations need to keep colleagues intellectually fit. 

These aren’t industry-specific trends. I’ve spoken to large companies such as luxury brand Gucci and telecommunications company Fastweb, and they all tend to ask for specific types of courses. However, I’ve recently received requests for courses that no-one was asking for 2 months ago. Our experience seems to be to some extent mirrored by recent UK trends, .

Much like the previous set of courses, there are three kinds of courses that are exploding in popularity:

  1. Wellbeing and work/life balance courses. Companies are noticing the toll remote working is taking on staff: being stuck at home, possibly on their own, with limited opportunities for healthy physical exercise. It can be draining for many. Having resources to teach them how to keep themselves physically and mentally healthy, to manage emotions and develop resilience will be crucial for many organisations in the coming weeks.
  2. Remote leadership courses. While at the start of this situation most organisations focused on technical practicalities to get everyone working online, leaders are now realising that managing a team remotely is very different from doing so face-to-face. They want courses that help them lead from behind the computer screen, and to establish a culture of trust and transparency in a world where tracking performance is tremendously difficult.
  3. ‘Smart working’ courses. Digital upskilling used to be a ‘nice thing to have’ in the workplace, but now it’s essential: partly for managers who want to know how to produce learning content quickly and run high-quality, educational webinars, and partly for those who don’t have the minimum required digital skills to function effectively in the online workspace. I’ve seen CEOs so used to having a personal assistant that they can’t even convert a Word document to a PDF!

Across the world, people and organisations are dealing with dramatic changes. Being ahead of the curve and cultivating a culture of agile leadership and supportive resource management, including digitalising large parts of their learning mix should enable organisations to operate with minimal drops in efficiency. However, even for the most vigilant amongst us, it would be prudent to prepare for a prolonged increase in interest in these three topics over the coming months, and we are seeing the list of in-demand courses expanding, of which more in a subsequent post!

Federico Amicucci is Managing Partner at skilla


Part IV: The Learning Organisation- Maturity Models and Development Enablers

We have seen in the previous blog posts the prerequisites that an organisation needs to become an effective learning organisation, and the range of learning strategies such an organisation needs to select from, implement and experiment with.

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