Why adopting Digital Learning is hard & ways to upskill with learn-tech


When covid-19 took the world by surprise, it did more than alter ourway of thinking, living and working. It presented us with a massivechange order and no one told us the secret.

That change is easier said than done!

Which is why forsome businesses, inspite of robust investments in learn-tech, getting learneradoption in virtual learning is still a bumpy road ahead. It’s not just theacceptance of the new training modality that is challenging, it’s our fixedmindset that stops us from adapting to the changing times.

Change is difficult

A part of that isevolutionary. You see, our brain is designed to stay in the known, the familiar.It cannot discern good or bad. It just understands habits and routines – our habits and routines; a mechanism itlearnt to keep us safe from danger (read: unknown). Which is why we findexcuses to snooze the early morning alarm (if you are not an early riser),ditch the gym (if you are not the exercising kind), reach for slice of pie whenyou are dieting (if you don’t value nutrition). Which is also why when our classroomtraining gave way to virtualinstructor led training, we couldn’t grapple with the new modality. Or whenour skills started becoming outdated and obsolete faster, we didn’t know theway forward to upskillourselves. And even we did know, finding learning time in our already packedschedule was impossible due to the digital fatigue we were under.

Here’s a useful representation ofthe Comfort Zone that helps us understand:

1.            Wherewe are at currently

2.            Howthe road ahead looks for us

the comfort zone internal image

Most of us, unfortunately, stay inthe red zone all our lives. Because we are too afraid, too unsure, too anxiousabout the future (speaks into the brain story). But if you were to plot peoplewho have taken the leap and are successful today, those who have pushed pastand overcome their fears, acquired new skills, found their purpose – Elon Musk,Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Priyanka Chopra – almost all of them willfeature in the Growth zone.

Resetting yourself with Digital Learning

The first Q you need to ask is -how do you get from the red zone to the green zone? A single line answer is bygetting into the driver’s seat of your learning journey. It’s not just the newskills you will add to your arsenal, but the byproduct of this is an enhancedlife that’s fulfilling and rewarding.

The ‘how’ to the above questionlies in ‘Digital Learning’.

•             It’sa must-have for today’s digital world

•             It’savailable on demand

•             Itgoes where you go

•             Itis self-paced

•             Itis personalized

•             Italigns to real-world changes in real-time

•             Itreduces your time-to-productivity

•             Putsyou in charge

Upskilling & taking ownership of your growth

Knowing the ‘what’and the ‘why’ of learning and development is half the battle one. Unless youknow HOW to achieve it, you will not be able to truly take ownership of yourgrowth. Fortunately, the secret mantra to achieving it is no farther thanremembering ABCD.

A – Agility

B – Be Responsible

C – ContinuousLearning

D – DigitalLearning

  • A –Agility

In his book,‘Thank You for Being Late’, Thomas L. Friedman says that, the technologicalgrowth and change has really overtaken the speed of the human brain’sadaptability to change. There was a time when human adaptability was higherthan the pace of technological changes but today the technological changes havesignificantly overtaken the ability for us to adapt.


While theadaptability of human beings itself is lagging, the adaptability of Businessesis even slower than that.

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How to bring about Agility throughlearning:

Digital learning experts suggest thatlearning agility is in itself a combination of skills including but not limitedto flexibility, speed, experimentation, risk-taking, collaborating, informationgathering, seeking feedback and reflection. The first step to developinglearning agility in your employees using digital learning is to first assessthem for the above-mentioned skills. Based on the results of the assessment,relevant training on the identified competencies/ skills, through befittingmodalities, should be made available to the learners.

For learners in the pursuit of agility, it’sabout looking back (self-reflection), looking around (collaborative learningwith a senior, formal training, webinars) and looking ahead (staying in syncwith industry trends).

  • B – BeResponsible

If there’ssomething I have learnt about taking ownership, especially of learning, isthis:

If you don’t takeownership of your own growth and development, you show that you, yourself, arenot invested and committed. So why will anyone else be? Or what if there issomeone else who has the momentum already. Before you know it, you will getpassed over for the next promotion, the new assignment, the new role and in afull circle moment of things, you will blame your boss, your company for beingstuck, while it was actually YOU who was not being responsible for yourself.

How to breed Responsibility throughlearning:

The key here is to start with the lowhanging fruits. You need to provide high quality, relevant and meaningfulcontent on key competencies, either mapped to your IDP or CPD, to yourlearners. This content should be available just in time of need, indicating theneed of anytime, anywhere learning through mobile apps (even offline mLearning) and integrations with othertools and software. Also, just providing a plethora of content is notsufficient. You need to carve out user journeys aligned to organizational goalsand individual aspirations. An AI-LMS is great help in enabling this as it constantly learns from learnerbehavior and recommends content. Further, using a Competency Management Modulethat shows the learner his/ her career path and skill-gaps that need addressing,and Gamification Module that infuses a competitive spirit inL&D serve as a validation in being a ‘responsible’ learner.

For learners, it’s about taking the reins oflearning in your own hands. It’s about investing the time, energy, and focus todevelop understanding. They have to learn to leverage the available resourceson their own merit and self-drive.

  • C –Continuous Learning

Carol Dweck is aresearcher at Stanford University. Well–known for her work on “the fixedmindset vs. the growth mindset”, she describes the difference between these twomindsets and how they impact your performance as this:

“In a fixedmindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, theirtalents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, andthen their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In agrowth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can bedeveloped through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarilythink everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyonecan get smarter if they work at it.” —Carol Dweck, Stanford University

You see, when wewere young we were told a lie. That education is about schooling, graduationand for some of us, post-graduation. But that it was finite. That after onefine day of doing it all, we would be ‘learned’.

The truth is theshelf life of skills is dwindling. The seismic changes in technology arechanging the face of work. That today’s best will not meet the challenges oftomorrow.

And the only wayto keep going, and going strong, is sharpen your skill set, both depth andbreadth, as that’s the only thing that will set you apart from yourcompetition.

How to make Continuous Learning anon-negotiable:

Creating a supportive environment thatencourages employees to engage in continuous learning takes commitment, resources,and coaching. So along with investing in a comprehensive learning management system and digitallearning content, you need toidentify Learning Champions who can be torchbearers of the initiative andfoster a learning culture that encourages and rewards knowledge acquisition.

For aspiring continuous learners, you needto start with a goal and from there use your network (social included) andsources to gain diverse information on topics (ideally aligned to goalachievement). The idea is not to get overwhelmed with the barrage ofinformation out there (it’s called ‘paradox of choice’) but to be selective andspace out the learning so it’s easily digestible.

  • D –Digital Learning

We have alreadycovered this in the previous section – the advantages of digital learning. Butto make it more practical, here are some tips for you:

Learning in theflow of work: Did you ever have a situation wherein you were doing your jobbut stumbled upon something you weren’t 100% clear on, got help from a trustedcolleague/ internet search, and voila – it was a job well done. This is aneveryday example of ‘learning in the flow of work’. Digital learning makes iteasier as you don’t have to ‘physically’ go to someone/ something for an answerbut rather use a digital tool as a bridge to get to the solution.

Microlearning:If I were to teach you an authentic Hyderabadi biryani recipe today, it wouldtake me hours to demonstrate the elaborate preparation and cooking. But if madea video of it, edited it to make it concise – just covering the essentialto-dos , it would have the same, or rather a positive effect as your brainwould be able to process it better cognitively due to its short length. This isthe beauty of microlearning.In today’s times of increased distractions and shrinking attention spans, aknowledge nugget goes a long way than hour-long courses.

CollaborativeLearning: How many of you have done group study with friends during yourgraduation or post-graduation? During my Engineering, me and my group of 6friends used to get together at someone’s place and study through the night ‘together’– each sharing his/ her know-how and findings on that subject. I am notrecommending you to pull an all nighter, but it does capture the essence ofCollaborative Learning well. Sometimes you will find that doing a Google searchor looking for a relevant course may take more time investment than seeking acolleague’s or a senior’s guidance. This is social learning at play and studieshave shown the importance of social learning in knowledge assimilation andproductivity improvement. Most LMSs have in-built SocialLearning and Knowledge Collab tools that not only enable conversion oftacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, but bring about information learning.

How to embed Digital Learning in yourL&D:

Borrowingfrom Josh Bersin’s article, ‘Begin by taking a hard look at allsegments of your workforce to identify one challenge you can address. Forexample, new-hire training might be a good place to start. Consider retaining aconsultant or building a small team and then pulling together yourorganization’s resources to deliver a compelling digital experience for thegroup you have decided to focus on. You’ll be able to gain a lot of insight andposition yourself for the explosive digital transformation ahead.’

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