How comprehensive is your L&D toolkit?
If you’re a trainer or educator, you’ll have plenty of tools in your arsenal for delivering effective learning. You’ve built these up over years of experience, from your education, research, communication with other educators, or even created some yourself.
But does your L&D toolkit meet diverse needs? Do they serve different types of learners? Or work across multiple platforms? Or use the multitude of technologies right at our fingertips?
In this episode of The Learning Xchange, host Matthew Brown, Schoox’s VP of Learning and Brand Success, takes a look at the broad range of L&D tech tools available to your organization and highlights how they can be used in the process of building or deploying learning strategies.
You can listen to the podcast episode here:
Or you can read on to find out more.
First: Take stock of your L&D toolkit
There are many tools available to help organizations build, embed, and deliver learning. You may already be using some in your L&D strategy, but there are always new tools to discover.
Taking stock of your trainer toolkit means assessing what’s already in it, what needs to be added, and if the tools are working for you and your learners. To do this, ask lots of questions about your organization’s existing L&D toolkit, for example:
- What development tools are currently used to create individual learning assets?
- Who contributes to L&D content creation within your organization?
- Does your organization’s L&D team deploy learning assets strategically?
Once you’ve audited your existing training tools, you may be able to identify some gaps, either in the kinds of training you create or the technology you’re under-using. From here, you can consider what tools you can build into your business to improve training and enhance learning experiences.
Here are 12 of our top tech L&D tools that you can add to your organization’s toolkit.
1. Course authoring tools
Course authoring tools are software programs that allow you to create learning content and entire courses for the end-user. These are key tools for leveraging interactive e-learning development.
Course authoring tools add content to a complete, built-in package. The software is more comprehensive than a SCORM package or video content and offers a wide variety of interactive activities. Some examples of course authoring tools include Adobe Captivate and Rise 360.
2. Content development tools
Organizations can use content development tools to capture content and create digital assets. These assets can range from video clips to images to infographics used for your courses and sharing on social media.
A software package such as Adobe Creative Cloud is a good example of a content development tool, but there’s also a wide range of web-based solutions, for example, Visme and Doodly.
Cloud-based content creation platform Visme allows you to create fun presentations, infographics, and videos. Doodly is a ‘whiteboard animation’ program where you can create professional-looking doodle videos, even if you have little design or technical skill.
Content development tools provide great value to facilitators, as embedding more diverse and interesting content types in your learning platforms can keep learners engaged.
3. Learning platforms
The learning platform is the whole system of tools that work seamlessly together to deliver a student-centric learning experience. Schoox is a learning platform.
There are a number of sub-categories in the learning platform arena, which include learning management systems (LMS), virtual learning environments (VLEs), learning experience solutions (LXPs), microlearning solutions, and digital assessment solutions. Which learning platform, or multiple learning platforms, does your organization use?
If you’re considering adding a learning platform to your toolkit, you should analyze how people currently leverage it. Does it exist simply for compliance or mandatory training? It doesn’t have to be a space just for learning. You could take advantage of other opportunities within the platform, such as community engagement.
4. Online learning options
Structured online learning engagements or courses, such as LinkedIn Learning, can be added to your own LMS or learning platform. These comprehensive, ready-made courses are a quick and easy way to provide value to your learners without trainers having to create a course from scratch.
Plus, these external courses often allow built-in integration, meaning you can launch them from within your internal platform. This helps keep learners focused on your core, central platform.
5. Search engines
Using your preferred search engine is an everyday occurrence for most people, but have you considered how it can fit with your L&D practice?
Trainers often overlook the power of search engines as a tool in their learning strategies, and yet many people use search engines each day to learn. You can incorporate search engines into your learning toolkit by guiding your team and teaching learners how to find the most useful content online.
6. Online video repositories
Repositories such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Ted contain huge volumes of quality content. Rather than spending time and money creating new content, spend some time researching, then pointing learners to freely available, existing, and useful content.
This may not be what you had in mind when building your training, but it speaks to the adaptations many trainers have made this year. This is also a great solution if your existing learning platform does not allow built-in elements.
7. Online communities
In the L&D arena, community and collaboration are key components for providing the best learning experiences. Social platforms, like LinkedIn and professional-focused Facebook groups, host great examples of sharing knowledge between educators. Harnessing social media’s potential gives trainers an opportunity to connect with other people, get different perspectives, share ideas, and perhaps leave with a solution to a problem.
You can create meaningful communities internally within your L&D activities through online peer-to-peer coaching, informal group learning, or by facilitating informed discussions between trusted and disparate colleagues. Encouraging learners to share how they’re progressing supports their development and often furthers their learning journeys.
8. Video meeting tools
Many organizations added the now ubiquitous video meeting tools, such as Skype, Zoom, Go-To, and WebEx, into their learning strategies this year. These tools allow L&D professionals to connect to people, to retain engagement, and facilitate interaction, in a live, real-time space.
While these may have already been part of your toolkit, many trainers have found new ways to use video conferencing software. The tools have also become more advanced. As businesses and education continue to work remotely, it’s necessary to stay up to date with the new features to maintain a more personable connection with your team and your learners.
9. Interactive software
Motivating learners to pay attention to training can be exceptionally difficult, but by getting participants to interact with training elements, you can feel more secure that they’re reaching their learning goals.
Gamification software or game-based learning such as Kahoot! can leverage the interactive and good-natured competitiveness of your learners. It’s a great way to motivate learners and enables you to add gaming experiences, quizzes, and polls to your L&D portfolio.
10. Collaboration and communication tools
Communication with learners is key, and although video conferencing tools provide the most “normal” communication experience, it’s not always necessary to call all learners into a video chat.
Collaboration tools such as Slack, Yammer, and Teams provide virtual workspaces made up of channels, where your learners can communicate and work together in an instant messaging environment. Here you can send messages and share files, as well as create channels private for one-on-one conversations.
This is a great tool to start a collaborative learner community or work privately with a learner to achieve a specific goal.
11. Forms and surveys
While live feedback and polls can aid learning in the moment, using forms and other software dedicated to surveys and data collection can help you evaluate the training’s effectiveness. Collecting feedback and data that can be used later to assess and develop your offerings is vital to continued improvement and engagement.
Tools that help you evaluate and progress as a trainer are equally as valuable as those that directly benefit the learner. When everyone aims to improve, the whole organization can evolve.
12. File sharing and office software
On a daily basis, people use standard workhorse tech tools that you might not consider an L&D tool. File sharing (like Dropbox and Google Drive) and office tools and suites (including Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, and Open Office) are common, but does everyone in your organization use these tools in the same way?
Deploying these tools strategically makes them more efficient and valuable, so consider a uniform approach across the organization. That way, everyone in the organization will know how to collaborate with one another. Consistency, clarity, and knowing what you’re working with is key.
How to evolve your L&D toolkit
After evaluating your existing tools, you should consider your organization’s over-arching learning strategy or create one if it’s not something you already have.
Engage colleagues that have involvement or ownership of parts of the learning process and discuss what tools you have and why you use them. You should be able to articulate your learning strategy clearly to your learners or stakeholders in the learning process.
By adding new tools to your strategy, or formalizing tools that have existed peripherally, you’re aiming to evolve the learners’ experience. For each tool, specify its purpose, its impact on your learning scenarios, and understand how it fits into your organization’s strategic approach to L&D.
Continuing to find ways to meet new demands is vital for L&D’s development. Learning and development professionals are always quick to adapt, however, we should also pull up some guard rails for the learner for the year ahead: be very specific and clearly define what experience you’re providing with your developing learning activities. Analyzing, refining and deploying your post-2020 toolkit will do just that.
If you enjoyed reading this summary of The Learning Xchange podcast episode, there are plenty more episodes to discover.
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