Alan Walton is a data scientist at Degreed, but he didn’t start at Degreed with that job title.

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Alan got a degree in math, with a minor in logic, and then landed his first job as a developer. Data science is currently one of the hottest jobs in America, but the term “data science” has only recently emerged. It was not a career that Alan had even heard of when he was in school. Like most millennials, Alan tried a few different jobs. His first job out of college was working for a startup where he wore a lot of hats. He worked on integrations, technical support, implementation, and technical writing. Alan started at Degreed as a developer, then worked as a product manager, and now a data scientist.

Alan’s career agility is enabled by his passion for learning. While in college, Alan’s quest for knowledge led him to learn speed reading. But, when walking through the university library one day, a quick calculation led him to realize that even when speed reading, it would still take him 200 years to read every book in the library. He knew he needed an alternative way to focus his learning.

Before Alan started working at Degreed, he stumbled upon Degreed online and became one of its first beta users in 2013. Alan has now accumulated nearly 40,000 points on his Degreed profile, which might make him the highest point earner in the entire Degreed platform. To give you some perspective, I have 12,000 points on my Degreed profile, which is more than most people on Degreed.

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When Alan first became interested in the data science role, he leveraged Degreed to make the transition. He created personal pathways in Degreed with resources from within the Degreed library, online resources, books, videos, and podcasts. He built pathways for data science in general with additional lessons focusing on sub-topics specific to the projects he was working on and the technical tools for his job.

Alan is a member of the data science group on Degreed, follows other data scientists, and follows the data scientist role so the popular articles, videos, and books his data science coworkers are reading plus the resources the organization recommends for this role show up in his Degreed learning feed, which he routinely takes advantage of.

Takeaways

Will Alan be a data scientist for the rest of his career? I doubt it. He says he’s really interested in AI. If you’re interested in gaining the same level of career agility as Alan, Degreed has the development tools to help.

  • Enroll in a pathway on the topic, create your own pathway, or clone an existing pathway and customize it for your needs.
  • Follow experts in the role you are interested in.
  • Join a group.
  • Follow the role, which will automatically link you to learning, pathways, groups, and experts.
  • Interested in learning more about data science? Follow Alan on Degreed or enroll in the Data Science pathway in Degreed.

Already a Degreed client and interested in initiating a targeted development plan at your organization based on roles and skills? For more information, contact your client experience partner at Degreed.

If you’re just getting started, check out get.degreed.com.

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Career development is more complex than it’s ever been. There’s no longer a straight ladder with prescribed steps. Employees are changing jobs at a record rate, and the change can now be lateral, diagonal, up or down, and jobs that require new skills are popping up all the time. 91% of Millennials expect to stay in their current job for 3 years or less, which means they will have 15-20 different jobs over the course of their career.

Here are three ways Degreed helps today’s workforce target their development across the roles, skills and learning they need for the jobs they currently have and want in the future.

  1. More relevant learning. Traditional approaches to development rely on conventional tools of the trade – things like classes, courses, and competencies, which are rarely reinforced, often forgotten or inconsistently applied. Which means lots of waste; 45% of L&D-led learning is wasted. All that wasted time, money and effort add up fast – more than $24m a year for every 10,000 employees for a typical Fortune 500 company [CEB]. To make learning more relevant, you need tools that target learning at the skill level. Degreed connects learning to skills, and skills to roles, giving individuals and organizations the ability to identify what skills they have, what skills they need, and the pathway to bridge the two.
  2. More self-directed learning and coaching. By a 3.5 to 1 margin, people tell us they believe their own self-directed learning is more effective in helping them be successful at work than the training provided by their employers. Degreed connects all the best learning experiences, both internal corporate resources and the world’s largest collection of professional learning content – making it easier than ever to promote a self-directed learning and a learning culture. In addition to self-directed learning, Degreed facilitates the touch points between managers and employees so conversations around development can happen more easily.
  3. More options to enable the lattice approach to career development. Gone are the days of the corporate ladder. Ladder careers had one direction of growth. The lattice career path moves laterally, diagonally and down as well as up. Skills are relevant and common to many job roles, in ways that are not always linear or obvious to the individual, and to the organization. By tracking at the skill level, individuals are able to see career progressions based on the skills they are strongest in and map those to the roles they are also qualified for. Degreed can help employees understand the pieces of parts of the role, help to educate people on what skills are needed for specific roles and then provide them the learning they need to achieve those skills.

Takeaway

When you search in Degreed for a topic like “leadership”, you’ll not only get connected to content like articles but also specific pathways, job roles, and groups where those skills are relevant. You’ll also be able to follow people who have accumulated expertise in those skills and browse providers with content that’s been tagged as relevant. Clicking on roles, like “new manager”, for example, will highlight specific pathways, mentors, and content and related to those roles.

Degreed is a professional development platform that helps organizations and people target learning at their skills gaps — however and wherever they build those skills. Degreed integrates everything your people need to build their skills – internal and external systems, content and experts, including the world’s largest collection of free and low-cost open learning resources – so it can all work better together. Your team can curate, personalize and measure it all. And they can discover, share and track all learning happening across the organization, all in one place.

Interested in practicing a more targeted development plan at your organization based on roles and skills? For more information, contact Degreed.

Spending a lot of time with organizations, at conferences, and reading industry research and blogs, I see the phrases “out of sync” and “learning revolution” being thrown around a lot in reference to the current state of corporate learning. There might be some truth to those words – only 18% told Degreed they would recommend their employers’ training and development opportunities.

But a more accurate statement is that there is a massive shift happening in the way people are learning in their jobs.

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The fact is, most workers do spend time learning every week, and they progress every day, in all kinds of ways – not just sometimes, in courses or classrooms. This means that the L&D environment should enable self-directed development as well as formal training – and it should do that through both micro and macro-learning. Equally as important, we as L&D leaders, have to make the vast array of learning content and experiences more meaningful by curating the right resources and tools, providing context, and by engineering useful connections and interactions.

We call this a learning ecosystem. We are in an exciting time where technology, the gig economy, the vast demographics of our workforce have given us the opportunity to rethink our approach and the possibilities! So what does a culture of continuous learning that includes formal and informal, job training and career development, L&D and self-service, look like?

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You need a comprehensive ecosystem of systems and tools that include the following capabilities:

  • curate many different types of content
  • Allow learners to explore indefinitely
  • Aggregate data from all over the organization without manual work into one tool
  • Dashboards to monitor activity deeper than completions
  • Analysis without spreadsheets or data scientist

Perhaps most importantly, embrace APIs, and standards compliance using Tin Can/Experience to ensure that all of your tools will plug in together.

There is also no one-size-fits-all for tools, but platforms like Degreed and Bridge help facilitate L&D’s expanding requirements through their support of required, recommended and self-directed talent development, allowing organizations to meet the needs of a changing workforce.

Learning and development opportunities are a critical factor in making employee engagement (and more importantly, performance) happen. Today, people expect utility, relevance, and personalization, and you create that through a comprehensive learning ecosystem.

Want to know more about the Degreed and Bridge ecosystem? Check out the PR on their new integration.

Co-authors: Sarah Danzl – Communications & Content Marketing, Degreed & Katie Bradford – Director of Platform & Partner Marketing, Instructure

Training is a core function of many organizations, as employees need to be taught a few standard things to help them effectively work within a company, and best perform their role. But how many organizations put the learner first  when thinking about what needs to be taught?

This is the main differentiator between training and learning.

Historically, training is very business centric versus learner centric. We are all familiar with the transactional model of training: attend a lecture or class, and take a test. It’s easy to assume that because this style of training is common and widely used, it’s successful. Don’t fix something that’s not broken, right?

Wrong. In a recent presentation at Puget Sound, Degreed’s CLO Kelly Palmer shared some findings that suggest we might want to rethink our current methods. “Traditional training really hasn’t worked,” said Palmer. “$160 billion dollars a year is spent on training but 80% of what is taught is forgotten within 30 days. Even more astonishing is less than 15% of that learning is applied on the job.”

With less than 15% of trainees applying their learning to their positions, perhaps it’s time we re-evaluate.

Big shifts occur when we put the focus on learning and the individual instead of the old model of formal training and getting a “completed” mark in the LMS. Digital technology gives us instant access to learning, anytime, anywhere. Even if we think about our own personal habits, the internal LMS or formal training classroom is likely not the first place you look for an answer.

According to Degreed research, when people need to learn something new, around 47% search the Internet and 43% browse specific resources. But just 28% search their employers’ learning systems and only 21% rely on their L&D or HR departments. This tells us that employees go beyond what L&D is providing, and take matters into their own hands to find the learning they want in their time of need.

This is not to say that formal training isn’t important, just that the investments and priorities need to be rebalanced to include many individual-focused learning opportunities. “What I’ve learned over time is that it’s not so much the classroom training experience that employees still ask for,” said Palmer. “When together, that’s where employees get to network with peers, collaborate and actually interact with other people from the company. I think in-person training still has a huge part to play, especially when you’re trying to encourage peer-to-peer knowledge transfer.”

The best learning organizations are focused on learner needs and finding a balance between formal training, and individual, learner-driven opportunities that create a thriving learning culture.

To learn how you can better meet the needs of your learner, check out Degreed’s How The Workforce Learns Report.

If you don’t think your organization is creative enough to implement design thinking, think again.

Design thinking isn’t about how good you are at design tools such as Photoshop, but rather it’s about using human elements when figuring out how to create products that addresses the real needs of people.

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Using the design thinking process, everyone is a designer and design is everywhere – the way you plan out your day, the way you arrange furniture in your room, the way you match clothes. In the corporate setting, it’s important to find out and integrate the end users’ needs from the beginning, so that you don’t end up spending all your time solving the wrong problem.

As Degreed’s Project Manager Ryan Seamons pointed out on the Design Thinking webinar with Chief Learning Officer, it’s important to realize that design thinking isn’t something you tack at the end of a project, but rather, it’s a mindset. It’s the process of constantly trying to understand the user and the problem at hand.

This diagram shows you a simple framework for approaching a problem using Design Thinking:

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As you can see, this framework is applicable to many types of organizations. Earlier this month, I wrote about how a design thinking program at a local high school positively impacted the students’ confidence and creativity. Here are the 4 actionable steps you can take to implement design thinking and bring its benefits to your organization:

1. Focus on the problem to solve

Companies fail to effectively solve their problems or meet their goals because they don’t correctly identify the person or problem.

Tips for identifying the problem:

  • Listen. Put yourself in other people’s shoes or problem and think from their perspectives what the problem is
  • Ask questions. What is the problem? Who is it for?
  • Have un-siloed conversations. Engage with not only one but multiple people; sit in that area and aim to understand what their life is actually like
  • Stay unbiased. Don’t impose what you think the problem is or the solution. Be open-minded and you might find something else you weren’t expecting

2. Get design thinking skills on your team

In past, ideation phase of the design thinking process were typically saved for Project Managers or Engineers, but that doesn’t mean it can only be used by that department or function. Since design thinking is the mindset of asking questions, understanding and testing, everyone has the ability to do this. Don’t worry if you don’t have the budget for a new role.

Tips for getting design thinking skills:

  • Practice the mindset. Start implementing the process in your role whenever you can. For example, if you oversee onboarding, think about ways you can test a new approach or understand the new employee mentality by getting  feedback via survey
  • Foster interests in design thinking. If you have someone on your team who wants to take initiative and expand their skillset, make sure to nurture that interest, whether it is encouraging experimentation or reimbursing them for design thinking classes

3. Have more debriefs (or start having them)

This is the part that people have the most trouble with: it’s important to understand that design thinking isn’t a one time thing, but rather it is a process of iterating on previous experiments so that the product can improve and become better. However, learnings can’t be implemented if there is no feedback process.

Tips for creating a learning culture:

  • Be open about what went wrong. Set an example that it’s okay to talk about what tests failed and use that to determine what can be better next time.
  • View failure as learnings. If one approach did not work, it narrows down the list of possible approaches and gets you closer to the approach that will work.

4. Embrace the feedback loop

The goal of design thinking isn’t perfection, but to get the best answer possible. The best answer likely won’t be the first answer; thus, there needs to be a constant loop of getting feedback and testing new assumptions.

Tips for implementing loop:

  • Test and iterate as much as possible. Find new ways and angles to test your assumptions, you might come across something you would’ve never thought of otherwise.
  • Have feedback sessions often. When you embrace feedback, not only does it create a safe space to innovate but also by talking about it, it prevents the same mistakes made again.

Design thinking can help leaders like you to identify and solve meaningful problems for your organization. Like anything new, the process is like a muscle that you need to build and use. With a design thinking mindset, you can spend time effectively on solving the right problems and building things that will impact your organization’s success – and you can start now.

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