Digital technology has drastically changed the way we learn and consume content. We gravitate towards solutions that are quick and easy, and as a result, informal options – social and on-demand learning – account for the bulk of workers’ development.

The most advanced L&D teams are embracing the trend towards informal, collaborative and social. According to the latest Bersin Corporate Learning Factbook, the best L&D organizations deliver significantly more on-demand resources like articles, videos and books, and up to 20% fewer hours via formal training (ILT, vILT, e-learning).

The general lack of insight into informal learning activities has many L&D leaders asking “How do I know employees are spending time on the right things?”

“We have to start trusting the learner. They know what they need and when they need it, and they’re going to find it,” suggested Jason Hathaway, Director, Content & Learning Solutions at CrossKnowledge.

But truly measuring the value of informal learning can be tricky. At Degreed, we believe in the bigger picture and recommend optimizing for utility and outcomes by asking ”Is the learning people are doing helping them become better at their jobs?”

How can you get an accurate measurement of how informal learning is working when results are not instant and much of the learning people do is happening outside of your company’s LMS?

Let’s say, for example, a salesperson spends lots of time watching product videos and reading about selling techniques. Certain tools allow you to capture data on the use of learning resources, but what you, as the manager or learning leader don’t know is if they are applying those ideas in practice.

So you look to their behavior and results. Are they setting more appointments? Are they closing deals faster? Are they closing bigger deals? Are their customers more satisfied? This is data you might be able to find in CRMs, ERP systems – maybe even in the talent management systems. But the one place you will definitely be able to see results (or not)? Observation.

True learning program success means observable behavior change. It’s a different way to think about ROI, but it’s a KPI’s that really matters.

Additionally, you can focus on the experiences you’re facilitating. “You can’t control what people do, but you can control the environment you provide them. Give learners easy access the best resources, including other peers, ” suggested Todd Tauber, VP of Product Marketing at Degreed.

Most workplace learning infrastructure doesn’t really work for today’s workers, partly because the current systems are built primarily for structured, formal training. But the key to empowering your learners and increasing engagement is recognizing, facilitating and measuring what’s happening in-between those formal learning settings – all of the informal learning that is happening whether it be reading an article, a conversation with a mentor or peer, attending an event, or taking a course.

Ready to start measuring your informal learning experiences? Create your Degreed profile today!

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