I work out of my house and I love it.  I love my commute of 10 steps vs my husbands 50 miles.  I love wearing pajamas from the waist down and quickly brushing my teeth at 4:00 p.m. when my husband comes home because I forgot.  One thing I don’t love about working from home?  Summertime.  With summer comes no school, with no school comes kids in the house, and with kids in the house there is no peaceful work environment.  Here starts every working persons nightmare known as “summer break” for those with children.

Every summer I am overwhelmed with answering the question, “How do you keep your kids busy all summer without taking out a small loan?”  If it were up to my kids, they would have a summer of unending computer time with occasional breaks to eat and sleep.  Last summer, I had the brilliant idea to take my two kids on a road trip and park it in the Midwest for a month and a half.  I had just bought a new car which had plenty of power outlet options to satisfy all your electronic device needs, and an open invitation from my sister some 1,200 miles away.

In my mind, I pictured a perfect opportunity to bond with my kids in which we would spend time playing car bingo, sing songs, deep conversations about what plagued my teenage son, and all the knock knock jokes I could manage from my ten-year-old.  My heart was full of joy to get a few days with the kiddos, they would have a fun summer adventure with their cousins, and I could work at a nearby coffee shop, uninterrupted, in my new remote, tranquil work environment.  This idea was brilliant.

After packing up the car with the necessities needed for a month in Iowa and enough food to feed a small army, I summoned my two kids to hop in the car.  I refused to let the argument between them about who got what seat and what pillow deter this epic Mother of the Year moment.  Deep down I believed this was going to be the best summer of our lives and a road trip we would cherish for years to come.  Car tank full of gas, husband hugged, cat fed, remote work station in backpack and we were off.

Ten minutes.  Ladies and gentlemen that’s all it took to dash my spirits.  Ten. Short. minutes.  Upon getting into the car, taking one picture, and backing out of the driveway, my kids had both put in their earplugs, laid down in their seats, and asked me to turn the music down.  I guess the car bingo and deep conversations would have to wait.

I was 450 miles into my northeast journey when I started struggling with being the lone driver.  My road trip playlist was on my nerves, kids were sleeping, and a flat Oklahoma highway was not the prettiest thing to look at.  I needed something to keep me awake and entertained by something that didn’t require cell phone service because I was in the middle of nowhere.  It was at this moment that my passion for podcasts was ignited.

For those that don’t know, a podcast is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to at will.  Podcasts have been around for years, but I discovered them when I started working for Degreed.

screenshot4Degreed also introduced me to other experts whom I might want to learn from. The ability to follow others that you would like to learn from, or who inspire you or have like-minded interests led me to  Kat Kennedy, Degreed’s Chief Product Officer. She was the first person I choose to follow and if you look at her profile, you instantly see that she is an avid podcast listener.  After listening to a few that she had consumed and liked, I started to explore, subscribe and recommend my own.  My favorites?  The Hidden Brain, Ted Talks Business, Ideacast, and Planet Money.

Back to the roadtrip! Failing to stay awake with my own personal rock concert of The Greatest 80’s Hits, I looked at my pretty new dashboard and saw the Podcasts app.  To be honest, I had completely forgotten about podcasts and as I started to scroll through all the ones my phone had downloaded for me over the past few weeks I felt my brain perk up.  I started with a Hidden Brain podcast called “Slanguage” in which Shankar Vedantam talked to linguist John McWhorter about feeling irked when people use literally vs. figuratively.  I then listened to Harvard Business Review’s “Dealing with Conflict Avoiders and Seekers” where I learned some tips to dealing with conflict in the workplace and how to defuse heated conversations (which, by the way, also works very nicely in a car at 10:30 p.m. between an adult and an unnamed teenager).

That day alone I listened to 10 podcasts which totaled almost five hours of drive time but, more importantly, learning time.  How do I know?  Because the first thing I did after checking into my hotel that night was to add all those podcasts to my Degreed profile.  I then proceeded to browse for more podcasts, videos, and audiobooks that would keep my kids and I entertained for the next two days.  Together (yes, together!) we listened to episodes about how Whole Foods Market, TOMS, and Rolling Stones were created. I learned from Adam Alter why our electronic screens are making us less happy, and what top athletes do to stay mentally tough.  And I know this because it is all captured in my Degreed profile, aligned to my skill development interests in creativity, personal growth and motivation.

Last summer’s road trip did not go as I originally had planned, but what I gained will stay with me forever.  I now have insight into what inspires me, I found an interesting and unique way to connect with my kids and I learned many things along the way.

As you go about your day, I encourage you to remember that although it may not be a course or formal learning, what is available to you informally, at your fingertips is very valuable articles, news, podcasts, videos.  And don’t forget to capture all the learning you do with a simple click on your mobile device in the Degreed app, so you can showcase to others and yourself what interests you, how you like to learn, and what topics are important to you.  Had Kat not captured her learning and shared her interests, I may not have found my own love of podcasts.  If you look at my Degreed profile, May and July of 2017 will show a spike in my learning activity – also capturing a time in my life that I will always cherish.

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.

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.

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!

Digital technology has become the gateway to smarter work, learning and play. For Learning and Development and HR leaders, it has fundamentally changed not only our roles and organizations; but our goals and how we accomplish them, as well.

Our roles have expanded. We’re still responsible for education and development, but now add  compliance, performance, restructuring, change management, and culture to the list. All of this is accompanied by technology; but is it really helping us keep up? How can we really utilize technology to enact change and engagement within our organizations?

During the Degreed Lens event in New York, learning analyst Josh Bersin shared 5 things all HR and learning leaders need to know.

Structure needs to account for cross-functional connection.

According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2016 report, 92 percent of survey participants rate redesigning their organization as a critical priority. This tells us that the number one thing on people’s minds in medium to large organizations is structure. Our org charts are no longer reflective of how work is done. Thanks to technology we operate cross-functionally, with specific people that have the expertise needed to inform specific projects. When a project is complete, we move on to the next network of people for the next deliverable.

Not all digital helps productivity.

Today’s worker has hundreds of thousands of apps and websites at their disposal, many of them making promises of improving time management and streamlining work and life. But they’re doing just the opposite; enticing us to lose focus every second. Deloitte reported that U.S workers check their cell phones, in aggregate, eight billion times a day. The productivity lost is almost unfathomable. By carefully curating what technologies you choose to use with your L&D initiatives, you can engage employees by utilizing the apps and websites they learn from organically.

If employees don’t have opportunities to grow, they will leave.

What’s the biggest predictor of economic growth for an individual? According to Economist Thomas Piketty, it’s skills; the more quality and in-demand skills you have as an individual, the better. For L&D leaders, this means we need to provide diverse, meaningful opportunities for every employee to learn and fuel their career, or they’re going to find it elsewhere.

Learning is key to individual and business growth.

Learning is important for employee growth and engagement, and it’s also critical to the success of your business. At the Degreed Lens Event in New York City, Josh Bersin said, “you want people to have enough skills to move to new assignments, to move away from business areas that are shrinking. You don’t want to have a business area that’s going out of business where no one wants to quit or switch. That just makes it even more impossible to transform your organization. So we have to build infrastructure and tools and reward systems and culture programs that facilitate development.” Mobilizing upward growth within your company is key.

Learners need the right mix of formal and informal learning.

The percentage of money spent on traditional formal training is dropping every year.

According to Bersin’s Corporate Learning FactBook, from 2009- 2015, investment in instructor-led training dropped from 77 percent to only 32 percent.  While formal training is never going to disappear, it’s not enough to create a true learning culture. We’re learning every day in a variety of ways, on and offline. As an L&D professional, you need a way to bring the best of that content to your organization through curation.

The right learning architecture will create an ecosystem in which learners know where and how to find content.  Most course catalogs contain thousands of pieces of content, so curating becomes crucial. Bersin explains, “you know what happens when you give people ten choices? They don’t pick anything. When you give them a hundred choices, they just shut down the browser completely and don’t even look anymore. But if you give them three choices, they’ll pick one.”

While technology has fundamentally and permanently changed our roles, We can embrace the change by using technology to empower our employees to learn in better, more engaging ways that will benefit their careers and our organizations as a whole.

Want to be live at the next Degreed Lens event happening in November in San Francisco? Request an invitation here.

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