Training Industry Magazine - January/February 2018 - 61

WHAT'S NEXT IN TECH
ERIC SHARP

3

CONSIDERATIONS
WHEN PERSONALIZING
LEARNING

The past decade has rapidly increased
our access to personalized experiences
in every part of our lives. Heading to
lunch? An app of your choosing will be
there to recommend restaurants based
on your past experience. Leaving your
house for the day? A prominent map app
will make an educated (and most likely
correct) guess at where you're heading
based on the day of the week, time of
day, etc.
As our use of technology becomes
more and more personalized, we
should be clear in assessing the

WITHOUT A
"BIG WHY,"
ENGAGEMENT
WILL BE
SHALLOW.
potential of personalization in learning.
It is important to not overlook the
context and overarching end goal of
learning personalization, aligning our
employees, our initiatives and our
technology accordingly.

THE BIG WHY
At our company, we often talk about
our "big why," the motivating and
inspirational reason behind our mission
and vision. The "big why" allows all of
us to passionately take part in driving
forward the mission and vision we share.
Some of the examples of personalization
I mentioned above, and others in

areas like music, entertainment and
tourism are useful, but are missing a
"big why." Without a "big why," interest
and engagement will be short term
and shallow.
Fortunately, in learning, the "big why"
is consistent and easy to call out. Every
employee is interested in their career
and the development of their skills. We
need to emphasize the "big why" when
we provide personalized learning so that
employees are always reminded of their
long-term goal. We believe that each
employee should have a skill plan that
contains personalized learning, giving
them direction and bringing them closer
to their career goals.

CONTEXT MATTERS
The personalized skill plan is great at
guiding and directing employees to
progress in their career goals. However,
if a skill plan is something I, as an
employee, have to explicitly visit on
my own, it will have limited traction. In
other
words,
what
good
is
personalization if the user never sees
it? Personalized learning should be
surfaced to the employee in an efficient
and low-energy way.
In addition, our team has seen a higher
level of activity on learning items
that contain the context as to why
the user is seeing it. For example,
I am much more likely to watch a
video if I know it was also watched
or recommended by a coworker. The
context makes all of the difference!

TECHNOLOGY
Everyone is talking about putting the
employee at the center of the learning
universe, but how do you put that
into practice? Now that we all agree
that personalization and adaptive
learning are key to putting the learner
at the center, how do we make that
happen? I would suggest an examination
of your current technology is the best
place to start.
Technology can have a dramatic effect
on your ability to personalize your
learning landscape. Machine learning
can be leveraged to draw correlations
from similar employees across your
business and surface the personalized
learning to them. Technology capable
of analyzing the complexities and
variations of employee learning and
presenting a personalized, engaging
learning experience is transformational
in an organization. Do your due
diligence on the technology you use;
buzz words are not enough!
I am pleasantly surprised at the level
of engagement our employees have
when you place a personalized skill
plan in front of them (reiterating their
"big why") and then create frictionless
ways for them to find the context of
learning presented to them. Bring
personalization to the forefront of
your efforts and you will see increased
employee satisfaction and employee
engagement, which can transform your
company culture.
Eric Sharp is the co-founder and chief
technology officer at Degreed. Email Eric.

T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - ADAPTING LEARNING 2018 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - January/February 2018

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