Establishing a Habit of Learning

In 5 Steps

Establishing a Habit of Learning

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

to Empower Your Learners

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

Thousands of dollars.
Thousands of hours of training and preparation.
A team of experts who offer support.

All those resources boiling down to a few hours of performance with limited results: a win or a loss. Sound like a situation we in Learning and Development know too well? How about every time we create a course or formal training.

So, what can learning learn from these exceptional Olympic athletes? You don’t become a world-class expert from one training session.

Mikaela Shiffrin, a 22-year old alpine skier currently competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, strapped her first pair of ski boots on at the age of 3. Now 22-years old, she’s been practicing for 19 years. Her success comes from many things, including incredibly hard work, and a variety of activities.

According to The New Yorker, she starts her days with a 10-minute warm-up on the stationary bike and stretching. Interval training is a big part of her training, Strength training is a major focus of her program, including circuits filled with sprints pushing and pulling a weighted sled, squats, rowing machine work, and skating on a slideboard. But that’s not all. She also spends time working on her balance and…wait for it… sleeping! She sleeps nine hours each night, on average, and naps every single day.

As proven by Mikaela, achieving Olympic glory requires mastery, over time, using a variety of techniques, repeated in a variety of intensities and even locations. This recipe serves as an example of how employee learning should look: varied, available in multiple formats, and based on the individual.

According to Degreed, the learning journey is similar.

Degreed was founded on the idea that we build our skills over a lifetime, stitching together a variety of experiences. It takes courses and books, articles, videos and podcasts. It also takes lots of searching, practice, trial, and error. And perhaps most meaningful is the guidance, feedback, reflection and coaching along the way.

So what does this mean for L&D Managers and organizations?

Learning happening in a variety of ways means we have to support a variety of modalities to keep our employees engaged.

Much like training for the Olympics, there isn’t one magical system to create greatness. You need an integrated ecosystem that approaches training and learning from different areas.

These ecosystems often include LMSs, but they are increasingly supplemented by solutions for curating open resources, managing micro-learning and automating feedback.

The near future of learning technology is here, and intelligent networks of tools, content, systems, people, and data all working together to empower your workforce to be world-class. To help them learn better, faster and more cost-effectively.

For advice on how to pick the right tools for the job, check out Degreed’s Innovator’s Guide to the Near Future of Learning Technology.

As Learning & Development departments adopt more technology to further their mission, new terms spread dizzyingly fast and useful terms float in a sea of jargon and buzzwords. To help you stay on top of the trends, Degreed is launching a new L&D Dictionary blog series.

In each installment, we go over the traditional or dictionary definition of an L&D term before going on to explain its significance to the modern learning world. Armed with these definitions, you can cut through the hype to apply new concepts to your training offerings so your employees remain on the cutting edge.


Curation
cuˈration, n.

 1. The action of curing; healing, cure.
2. Curatorship, guardianship.
Draft additions  1993
b. The supervision by a curator of a collection of preserved or exhibited items.
“cuˈration, n.”. OED Online. January 2018. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/45958 (accessed January 19, 2018).


Curation is one of the hottest topics in Learning & Development, but dictionaries haven’t quite caught up.

Degreed defines curation as the process of evaluating, organizing, and sharing learning resources around a specific topic while adding context with your own instruction to create a personal, relevant experience.

If you’re new to curation, where do you start? Curation is a valuable tool you can use to provide more tailored instruction to employees with the same limited time you have.

Traditionally, if you wanted to share new material, you had to analyze the need, find Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), interview them, design your learning activity, draft material, review it (with your SME, whose time is also limited), provide the materials, collect feedback, and (hopefully) update the material for next time. That meant each content area was a real commitment, and lots of emerging topics just couldn’t make the cut. In today’s dynamic learning landscape, you need to move faster to help employees keep up with the ever-changing nature of their work.

When you curate learning content, you don’t have to create all-new materials yourself. Instead, seek recommendations for relevant materials from SMEs or research to find some yourself. These can be from professional organizations, luminaries in the field, or your SMEs’ own materials shared online. By combining content from other sources to cover the general portion of your material, you leave yourself more time to create new content where it really counts—about organization-specific processes or concepts.

Interested in learning more about curation? Check out this Degreed Pathway.

Next definition: User-Generated Content

Many of us are starting the year doing a lot of evaluation. Evaluating ourselves, evaluating our fitness and health, and at work, evaluating our contributions. And some of us have decided to make changes.

In learning and development, many want to improve the way we support employees. We’re asking questions like:

– How can I convince my employees to make time for learning?
– How can we make learning part of the day instead of a tedious activity?
– What can we do to make content more interesting?

I’ve been asking these questions too, and in my search for answers, I found the best place to start was better understanding my employees (learners).

Here are my top 3 recommendations for facilitating a good learning experience.

  1.    Support employees so learning can happen available anytime, anywhere.

Workers don’t confine their development to the “office” or typical work hours. In Degreed’s “How the Workforce Learns” report, 85% of people said they learn at work, 67% do so on personal time and 18% are learning during travel or commutes.

While this feels like you might have less control than you’d like, it’s actually a good thing for retention.

Benedict Carey, author of How We Learn and writer at The New York Times, actually recommends changing locations while learning. New scenery maximizes the number of associations tied to a certain memory and makes it easier to access when trying to reconnect with the content later on.

So, creating the environment and culture where employees feel that ALL the learning they do, wherever they do means increased valued and they’ll likely retain information and make connections more effectively.

  1.    Stop worrying about millennials and boomers and start worrying about learner preferences.

I led a panel discussion last year on the generational differences in the workforce with eBay and BlueBeyond consulting. We had a representative from the 4 generations in the workforce today, and what surfaced was that societal trends, more than age, influence preferences for digesting information.

70% of the time, learning still happens on PCs. But smartphones (17%) and tablets (13%) account for 30% of digital development.

While there is some broad truth to generational differences, there were plenty of boomers in the room who prefer YouTube “how-to’s” and a significant number of millennials who still to write things down and would choose face to face over IM.

The takeaway? Learning preference is just that, an individual’s preference. Regardless of generation, we should give each employee options that appeal to their unique learning style and  preferences in content themes

  1.    When investing in new tech, consider more than efficiency.

Many L&D teams are trying to do more with less. Content that appeals to a broader audience, templates that standardize and one system that can do it all.

But how does this approach cater to the reality that we build skills over time, and from a variety of sources including books, conversations, and experience?

As Degreed’s new Innovators Guide points out, the problem with this approach is that in a typical L&D environment, the content (as well as the systems, people, and work experiences) are isolated. They rarely work together to interact or share data. “As a result, they don’t give anyone a useful picture of our learning activities or, more importantly, our skill-sets,” said Todd Tauber, VP of Product Marketing at Degreed.

Instead, we need to consider the benefits of being in the age of technology, and thanks to things like APIs, organizations can form world-class systems from multiple, best of breed solutions. “This is the near future of learning technology: intelligent networks of tools, content, systems, people, and data all working together to empower your workforce to learn better, faster AND more cost-effectively,” added Tauber.

Ready to learn more? Check out Degreed’s Innovator’s Guide.

 

Degreed is proud to announce our partnership with IP Innovations.

Our partnership enables IP Innovations to offer Degreed to the commercial enterprise markets and makes Degreed the first skills-building learning platform in Japan.

As a country, Japan currently relies on traditional learning management systems (LMS) and formal learning processes and training programs. However, there is an appetite for informal, efficient learning platforms within the country. The forecast for the Japanese e-learning market in 2016 was 170 billion Yen ($1.7 billion USD).

Through the partnership with IP Innovations, Degreed will be the first informal learning platform offered within the country. Degreed allows Japanese companies to better and more efficiently build skills, track learning and measure mission-critical skills development.

“We’re thrilled to announce a partnership with IP Innovations,” said David Blake, CEO of Degreed. “IP Innovations’ brand equity in Japan uniquely positions us to reach thousands of businesses and offer them Degreed’s seamless learning platform. We believe the agreement is further validation of our mission, vision, and strategy and that informal learning has market appeal on a global basis.”

“We are really excited about partnering with Degreed,“ said Masashi Urayama, CEO of IP innovations. “Degreed is a learning platform that is based on the very different concept than the traditional LMS. While the LMS is a platform that supports formal learning, Degreed is a platform that supports the whole process of learning, including informal learning. In the future where the digital native generation accounts for more than half of the workforce, it is essential to have a platform like Degreed. Through our partnership with Degreed, we are going to foster the culture of learning and spread the method to support performance improvement in the Japanese workplace.”

About IP Innovations
IP innovations is a Japanese company where experts with long experience in the field of human resource development gather. We propose our customer’s distinctive approaches to help create innovative workforce and promote organization development. Founded in 2003, IP innovations is headquartered in Tokyo.

Learn more about IP innovations at their Website.

Interested in a partnership with Degreed? Please visit our partner page.

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide songs being sung by the choir …”

“Oh wait, hang on one sec, I just need to check in on work real quick.”

“Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow …”

“Oh, you know what, I should post this to Instagram. That mistletoe is just perfect.”

“Will find it hard to sleep tonight

The holidays are a special time filled with family, friends, old traditions and new memories. It is a special time filled with the opportunity to connect with one another, to share meals, to share conversation and laughs, to share gifts and the moments that matter.

Something is lost though. Something is lost when the flicker of a screen replaces the flicker of a fire. Something is lost when the bright red alert of a new email consumes our attention instead of the bright red noses of kids coming in from playing in the snow. Something is lost when instead of time spent with family making dinner, our attention is with work, with our technology. Something is lost when we are physically present but mentally remote and connected to our tech.

This isn’t news. We already know this. There are countless articles on the benefits of disconnecting from technology. We already feel the pang of guilt when we check in instead of focusing on our family and friends. We already know that social media detracts from our real-life social lives. We already know that the moments we spend checking in are moments stolen from our families, stolen from our friends, stolen from the memories we will one day wish we had.

christmas-quote-hills

We have all sorts of excuses. It’ll be quick. I need to stay on top of it so I don’t have 100 emails when I get back to work. It’s just one short reply. My family likes it when I post photos. It won’t take that long. We all have our excuses and they are just that: excuses.

So this year, drop the excuses and celebrate yourself. You need a break from the totally connected life, we all do. You understand the value of turning off. And the end of the year is a perfect time to power down and to give yourself a mental break. It will do wonders for you. It will do wonders for your career. It will help you to recharge, to refresh your energy, to reignite your creativity and imagination, and help you start the new year inspired. 

The holidays are a special time. Or they can be. This year, unplug. Give yourself, give your family, give your friends something truly special: the unplugged version of yourself. The disconnected version. The full color, fully present, fully in the moment version of yourself. Give yourself time away from the screen. Give yourself permission to fully experience your holiday. In real-time. There is no better gift. There is no better time.

From all of us at Degreed, we wish you and yours a peaceful, relaxing holiday.

As the year draws to a close, I spend some time reflecting on how I spent the year.  With coffee in hand on a cold Minnesota morning, I consider various things: What did I accomplish this year?  What did I learn? What skills did I develop?

All of this thinking then leads to the anticipation for the new year.  What skills should I develop next year?

Maybe you’ve done something similar reflecting on your accomplishments.  But, why do we wait until the end of the year for introspection?

I suppose it’s because we’ve associated the end of the year with the annual performance review that organizations deploy: filling out forms, struggling to recall accomplishments and skills developed throughout the year and wondering how to put into words what you will accomplish 12 months from now.

Been there, done that.  It can feel frustrating.

Truthfully, the end-of-year annual performance process is an outdated process and many organizations have moved away from the annual review, but many have not.

If you’re lucky enough, you might be employed by a company that has evolved to ongoing feedback and regular development discussions with your manager.  Be thankful, if that’s you!  I hope you’re actively engaged in collaboratively building a skill development plan that aligns with your career goals and growth.

At Degreed, I used our Skill Development Plan feature to create a personal development plan where I’ve identified a few key skills I’d like to develop.  I’ve self-rated my level in each skill and set targets of where I’d like to be with each skill.  I’m beginning to work with my leadership team to coach me along the way.

But if continuous feedback and ongoing mentoring does not describe your current experience in your workplace, please keep reading!  The good news: there is hope. Sure, your manager should be there to help and coach you, but YOU are ultimately in control of developing your skills.

As you navigate through the annual review process and begin the new year with goal-setting, go into it with a new mindset. Initiate your learning and development plans with your manager.  Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Be proactive in building a development plan to improve your skills. This means thinking about and writing down your career goals, or the next role you are interested in pursuing, etc.
  • Think of areas that you want to grow your expertise or think of new skills you’d like to learn about and develop – it doesn’t have to be a long list.  Start with one skill.
  • Ask your manager to help you build a development plan with learning resources you can benefit from.
  • Find and ask a mentor for career development and guidance.
  • Seek and use learning resources you can find on Degreed or elsewhere.

Whatever the case, be proactive in making a personal development plan to build current or develop new skills.

I’ve been lucky to have worked for various organizations and managers who have implemented continuous feedback and development discussions in conjunction with a full year performance review.  The common thread was the honest and transparent discussions with my manager of where I would like to develop my skills.  Start with questions like “how am I doing in my role?” and have an answer for  “where and how do I want to progress in my career?”  The key: build a development plan collaboratively.

If you don’t have a way to begin to track and measure your skill development, consider signing up for a Degreed account.  It’s free! And if you have Degreed, add your skills to your profile and accurately rate your level of expertise.  Better yet, certify your skills through Degreed Skill Certification.

As you reflect on your accomplishments and your learning and development this year, ask yourself: What did I learn this year?…In what areas did I develop my skills? How do I want to grow my skills next year?  Take 5 minutes right now to put your development plan into action!

Degreed supports users around the world. Users come from more than 146 countries, and that grows every month. Degreed has many international and multinational organizations with offices across the globe. Degreed itself has offices in the US, Europe, and Australia and remote employees located in more than 7 countries. Degreed provides a seamless experience for our users regardless of language or location and complies with international laws for security and data privacy.

world

Multi-Language Support

Degreed provides multi-language support for 26 languages, including right-to-left languages, with new languages added all the time. Degreed will automatically detect the user’s language based on the user’s browser settings, and display the platform in their preferred language. To see the complete list of supported languages visit our last post on the topic.

languages

Security and Privacy

Security and data privacy laws vary from country to country. The EU has some of the strictest guidelines. Degreed leverages the global network of Microsoft Azure data centers to comply with all of these international guidelines. Microsoft Azure includes more than one million servers in more than 100 data centers in countries, including the United States, Canada, Germany, UK, India, Japan, China, Australia, and Brazil. Azure data centers in Germany are controlled by a German data trustee to comply with requirements in Germany.

EU Cookie and Data Privacy Laws

Cookies is a hot topic in the EU right now, so Degreed complies with the Cookie regulations by warning users in the EU of cookie use. For more information on how Degreed uses cookies, visit Cookies.

To comply with EU data privacy laws, Degreed will provide a customizable data privacy notification for users.

Takeaways

Regardless of where your employees are located, Degreed has your back.

Twelve years ago, my sister in law and I were sitting down for a family dinner and she leaned over and informed me she was training to run a marathon.  “I’m in the best shape of my life,” she exclaimed.  We had both just given birth to our second children and one of us (me) was NOT in the best shape of her (my) life.  My competitive genes kicked in and next thing you know, I’m signed up for a half marathon with only three months to train.  I was not a runner, had no desire to run, and to be honest, thought all runners were crazy.  However, anything she could do, I could do so – off to the races.

The next few weeks I spent purchasing new shoes, new headphones, downloading the best mixtape ever curated, and going to the gym a few times a week to run on a treadmill.    I figured that as long as I could run 10 miles on a treadmill, I could run a half marathon.  Right?  How hard could it be?  I honestly had no idea what I was doing, no training plan in place, but I knew that if I had shoes, music, and determination, I would be amazing.

Race day came. I was up at the crack of dawn with nerves.  When the gunshot rang out, I sprinted out with complete abandon.  Halfway through the course, I was in pain, my music player had died, and I was miserable.  I finished my race, took my expensive shoes off, drove home and threw them away.  I did not feel in the best shape of my life. In fact, I was sore from head to toe with three new blisters.

Fast-forward ten years. I have moved into a new home in a new neighborhood and know no one.  A friendly neighbor came by to introduce herself and asked if I’d be interested in meeting her and a few other girls in the morning to run.  “Run,” I laughed, “ah no thank you.”  She didn’t take no for an answer and I found myself waking up at 4:00 a.m the next morning to be picked up by my new friend to go run.

As we pulled into the dark parking lot, I saw a group of eight women waiting, and flashes of misery, doubt, and pure panic set in.  These people, however, welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me from beginning to end.  We ran five miles that day, stopping along the way to stretch and laugh.  I didn’t feel pain or misery, anger or shame.  I felt encouraged, strong, and accomplished.  Sure, I wasn’t running a four-minute mile, but I had just run five miles and it went by fast and I was actually having fun!  I was hooked.

You see, when others are in the trenches with you and there to support with encouragement, it means more.  You have more energy and more drive because the people surrounding you don’t want you to fail.  The same goes for learning.  Without a good support system around you, who will be there to continue to encourage you during your points of frustration?  Who will be your coach along the way when you don’t understand a concept or have the same question over and over again?  When looking to learn something new, 69% of people turn to a boss or mentor first to point them in the right direction.  I find that to be personally true because I am more likely to want to read, listen, watch something that has been recommended by someone who knows me.

Degreed has been my coach in the world of learning and development for the past year and a half.  Degreed gives me credit along the way for any learning activity that I do throughout my day.  I get recommendations from others who have like-minded interests on topics that really motivate me.  I’m challenged with ongoing development opportunities by being able to capture my skill level goals and get manager’s feedback along the way.  I receive suggestions for new and different modalities of learning that spark my creativity.  I get tangible results by seeing how much learning and development I am investing in my career.  Just like I see all the miles I run on my Garmin watch, Degreed shows me all the learning I’ve accomplished in my lifetime.

Since meeting those girls, I have run seven marathons, twelve half-marathons, and had more blisters than I care to count and I have loved every minute of it.  What made the difference?  Support, encouragement, feedback, and like-minded connections.  Do you get that with your learning and development coach?  If not, check out Degreed.

 

I was valedictorian of my high school class. One of five actually – in a graduating class of 44 students. Needless to say, it was a very competitive environment with perhaps a somewhat flawed measurement system. I fought for the achievement, though, and consider myself a strong learner still, priding myself on my curiosity, critical thinking, and capability to make connections between new and existing knowledge.

What I have never been is a very “social” learner. At least not in the sense that was measured in high school and college. I despised having to achieve that part of my grade based on class participation, because to me, the things that helped me to learn – curiosity, critical thinking, making connections – happened internally, and not by sharing my thoughts with others.

It’s a bit curious then that I’ve spent the last 10 years or so of my career tangled in the power of social learning. When I think about why, it comes down to this: being “social” while learning isn’t just about helping me learn, but rather helping those around me to learn, too. And I find it immensely fulfilling to help others to learn.

So what is the big fuss about social learning?

In a few words, it’s powerful and preferred. And really, just starting to take off.

From Degreed’s How the Workforce Learns report:
Workers have more options for development than ever before, but they still want guidance. When they need to learn something new, though, they are most likely to ask their boss or mentor (69%) or their colleagues (55%) for recommendations.

From the same report, we know that more mature learning organizations deliver 13% more learning via social interaction.

hiimp

Human behaviorists have their own body of research on why we learn with and from others. For many people, it is helpful to their own learning when they dialogue with others. If that describes you, you probably naturally gravitate to the social aspects of learning: sharing, recommending, adding comments, rating content, because those are the ways you improve your own skill.

Those of us who reflect internally in order to learn may not immediately see the value of recommending content, leaving comments on it, or providing ratings. Experiencing the value of social learning though, I would now recommend that we internal learners shift our paradigm a bit.

Consider that rather than helping the individual learn (whether the individual person or someone else), these social experiences help others learn, providing value beyond myself and instead to others. Think about it: when you are choosing articles to read, videos to watch, podcasts to subscribe to – do you look at the ratings? Do you read or skim comments from others before making your final selection? I do too.

We can contribute to the social ecosystem even more by creating original content with things like social posts, articles, videos, and podcasts that we upload and share with others. The value of sharing knowledge is great, and the need for perfectly produced products is decreasing, allowing everyone to have a voice.

So as you take the few moments to rate, comment, share or recommend, think about all of the value you’re driving to future content seekers, and the extra learning you may be gaining for yourself.

In high school, it seemed really hard to find that right moment to raise my hand and share my thoughts in front of the entire class. But with this mindset shift, sharing learning today is easy, and that is better than any participation points!

At Degreed, we know the skills gap doesn’t just affect Americans. People outside of the US also have the need for transparent, lifelong learning tools that can help effectively communicate skills, and better lives and careers. That is why we are so excited to partner with Alexander Forbes, on an exclusive basis in Africa.

Alexander Forbes is a pan-African diversified financial services firm operating in the Retirements, Wealth, Investments and Insurance markets. They provide thousands of clients with specialist financial advice and solutions and have recently launched Alexander Forbes’ Empower to enhance their financial well-being proposition. Through its partnership with Degreed, Alexander Forbes Empower now offers its corporate clients access to thousands of courses, videos, articles, books, podcasts and more. This makes it possible for employees to embrace lifelong learning as a daily habit – a massive employee benefit that boosts skills and experience and ultimately helps to secure financial well-being.

Africa is ripe for personal skills development and ongoing learning and the continent’s economy is predicted to boom over the next few years. Africa is also home to some of the most underdeveloped economies in the world, which provides an even greater need and reason to bring low-cost, scalable, individualized learning to the region.

“This is a momentous event for Degreed as we partner with one of the most innovative companies in Africa, Alexander Forbes,” said David Blake, CEO of Degreed. “Alexander Forbes’s vision to better the people and companies of Africa through learning perfectly aligns with the mission and purpose of Degreed. We’re excited to create the next generation of experts in Africa.”

Alexander Forbes Empower was created with a clear and distinctive mission to empower customers to achieve better outcomes, through developing a lifelong relationship with education and learning. At Degreed, we’re excited to be a part of this movement.

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