Debates about the efficacy of digital learning seem like quaint artifacts from a lost era. These days, corporate educators and learners are getting a crash course in two of the biggest lessons from COVID-19 : how to follow strict safety measures and adopt the latest technology innovations for business results.
“Across the C-suite, there’s tremendous demand to provide people with the skills and knowledge to support innovation for successful digital transformation,” said Eva Zauke, chief knowledge officer at SAP. “We’re seeing companies ramp up learning to be well-positioned as economic recovery emerges. What’s different is that everything has gone digital and organizations need a direct link between learning investments and business impact.”
SAP’s learning portfolio trains millions of SAP professionals and business users across customers and partners each year. The learning offerings’ recent name change to SAP Training and Adoption is the latest evolution and reflects the new corporate learning reality. In an eye-opening conversation, Zauke shared five ways corporate learning is evolving for educators and learners.
Attract Learner Attention and Measure Results
In a recovering and post-pandemic world, power flips from the educator to the learner. We can expect learners to begin where it interests them and proceed at their own pace. To keep these learners engaged, educators need to teach in smaller and more interesting segments with hooks that capture and keep their interest. The objective is to inspire groups of learners to get fired up, explore their own questions, and report back with their findings.
Both educators and learners also need continuous communication to measure the effectiveness of any digital program. For instance, people using learning offerings from SAP regularly share feedback about their experiences, allowing educators to adjust content and format for optimal business value. Zauke said that SAP also measures the impact of its learning programs based on customer feedback about its effectiveness as well as the customer’s innovation index.
Community Fosters Learning
Even with an eventual return to some in-person contact, digital enterprise learning elevates the importance of groups. Learners will form virtual groups based on shared interests and skill levels to pose “stupid questions” and explore new directions.
“People are naturally social,” said Zauke. “They want to ask questions and hear what others are thinking about. That’s why people come to online learning rooms in SAP Learning Hub, where they gain updated product information from experts and participate in moderated discussions with experienced coaches and peers. It’s a community for exchanging ideas and fostering learning about the latest products and technologies.”
Since the crisis began, SAP Learning Hub training course log ins and completions increased by 33 percent. Recent popular topics across the digital learning platform included SAP S/4HANA Cloud, with over 22,000 members in that learning room, supply chain resilience using technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and analytics, as well as how to use the latest tools from SAP to manage a company’s carbon footprint.
Educators Become Coaches
As learners increasingly operate as self-organized, contained groups, a educator’s role shifts from handing down knowledge to filling gaps and introducing new topics. Self-motivated learners may move too fast, transforming the educator’s role into providing direction or putting on the brakes during individual and group coaching sessions. The best educators use questions as fuel, guiding learners through the struggle of learning and helping them emerge with hard-won understanding or even more questions.
Learn by Doing
Like everything else in a post-pandemic world, enterprise learning must be faster given the speed of innovation. People will increasingly learn by doing instead of knowing, shedding old skills to gain new and more valuable ones. For example, SAP Enable Now delivers relevant tutorials to people as they use the company’s software solutions, including products co-innovated with customers. This kind of in-the-moment training, directly built into most cloud solutions from SAP, speeds up learning – not just about SAP products, but also customer-specific business processes such as human experience management, procurement, and customer experience.
Corporate Learning as a Full-Body Experience
In the future, virtual, augmented, and mixed reality headsets — VR, AR, and MR respectively — will help corporate learners break away from the tyranny of a flat screen. Educators will stimulate learners’ curiosity through storytelling and simulations. Learners could enact situations, such as applying a new technology on the factory floor or in the operating room. VR for education is estimated to be a $13 billion industry by 2026.
Reinvent Learning for Business Results
Corporate learning may not fully replicate our favorite binge-worthy entertainment series, but they can inspire educators to develop well-constructed narratives and engagement tools that help entice learners to stay fully engaged. After all, the future of every business depends on innovation.
“The more skilled and knowledgeable people are about the technologies that run their business, the greater their job satisfaction and productivity,” Zauke said. “With an engaging learning experience, people can innovate faster – whether it’s our customers directly or consultants and partners cascading our tools to create learning materials for their customers. All of this learning has significant business results.”
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This story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.