Thinking about how law firms can introduce more effective and comprehensive training, not just for lawyers, but for management and support staff too; we have been tracking options to use a blend of traditional face-to-face training supported by more affordable and manageable e-learning.
If we can find effective ways to develop more skills in law firms and increase the uptake, we should be making it happen now as there is still a significant gap that needs to be filled. Particularly for support staff; but also to develop and embed more personal skills at all levels.
How is e-learning developing?
There are reservations in the legal sector about the effectiveness of e-learning to be weighed up against the benefits; more affordable, more accessible anytime, anywhere, with manageable options to plan and track progress.
I don’t envisage e-learning being the only solution for any practice, but there are many benefits in an e-platform (Learning Management System) to plan and track learning in all it’s guises – and there is potential to be more innovative and make more use of what are now more effective and engaging e-learning options too.
The experience that can now be delivered through e-learning, which can include challenging simulations, is moving fast, with improvements in relevant technologies. The success of Lynda.com discussed below is just one significant indicator. It is therefore well worth exploring some of the new developments in e-learning that might make it more attractive and effective for you in more situations as part of the blend of training available to your people.
Learning Technology’s Summer Forum – Top 3
Ask any three people at June’s Learning Technologies Summer Forum what the hottest topics in eLearning were and you would probably get three different answers. Yet there are some definite ‘buzzwords’ that get repeated out there as the ‘must haves’.
The ‘Top 3’ things people were talking about there:
The use of ‘game thinking’ and ‘game mechanics’ in e-learning and simulations was unquestionably one of the hottest topics. Whether it’s a game used in an assessment at the end of some e-learning, a mini-game through the e-learning, or a standalone game, 40% of the top 1,000 firms now claim to use games for staff learning. Reflecting this, e-learning providers have seen a 35% increase in requests for ‘gamification’ in the past year.
The beauty of gamification is that learners can learn while having fun, learn from getting it wrong, see how they compare to others, check progress and improve.
The trick is simply to get the user immersed in the game (or simulation) from the start. But beware, there are tricks to getting it right with gamification. If you don’t, you may leave the learner wishing they just had the information on an A5 sheet! It works best when combining skills in designing fun games with experience in learning design. As a taster, you can discover some of the principles behind learning games from Dan Mascall here.
If gamification is high on the priorities for some commercial business, others cite one of the hottest trends in this areas as the end of dull and daunting ‘point and click e-learning’. In tthe past, this has often taken months for the various teams to get together, with panels of people ‘sucking the life out the content’ before it’s published. Instead, people now realise they could quickly and cheaply listen to experts by pulling bite-size videos together, creating discussion boards and sharing links.
It takes only a few hours for an expert to publish a video on a subject. Once published and readily available, it has a higher chance of staff listening to it – possibly even in their own time, on their own mobile.
Learning & Development could find themselves with a growing role in collating videos and other packages for their Learning Management System (LMS). It’s interesting that Lynda.com – often quoted as the market leader for producing bite-size, expert videos – was bought up recently by LinkedIn for a staggering $1.6bn; perhaps the most dramatic sign of the times. This trend has important implications for Learning Management Systems too.
Integration of published videos as trackable SCORM objects in any LMS is increasingly a key differentiator between learning providers now.
The training industry and the learning platforms available are behind other sectors in terms of customising and personalising user experience, where things are beginning to move faster.
Take Amazon – they predict what you might like based on what they know about you. Training can operate in this way too. You could tailor training to what the user needs to know depending on their job role, competency and development needs.
You would now want your LMS to include diagnostic assessment and performance support tools, that can create personal learning paths. That should be on their development roadmap if they don’t already deliver it today. If not, you would probably want to start looking around at alternatives.
Imagine a process that leads staff to study the gaps in their learning most relevant to their current role and future prospects; and equally importantly, relieves them from having to sit through irrelevant learning on areas they already know and understand well?
I am interested in your thoughts on training and the role that e-learning and simulations can play in law firms going forwards. Would you want to try these options further for your practice in the future as part of a blended mix of training options?