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Digital learning concepts: Context is key

Software skills are essential today. But employees often feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of new applications, software releases, and processes. Just ask your help desk staff. However, it is possible to fill knowledge gaps without conventional training—and that applies to much more than just IT questions.

Digitization increases pressure on business. Transformation and innovation demand new skills at a faster pace than ever, and global competition is constantly raising the bar. It’s no use having the best ERP system if employees struggle to work with it and maintain data. Likewise, a cloud-based CRM application can only live up to its full potential if users are able to take advantage of all its functions. And in all of this, you need to comply with increasingly complex data protection and IT compliance regulations.

Learning is a critical success factor

The key to digitization is not technology, but knowledge. Lifelong learning in ever-shorter cycles is becoming the standard. However, there is little time for learning when you have to handle daily business responsibilities and a growing flood of information. Fewer and fewer companies are willing to pay for multiple days of off-site training and the associated travel costs. They are increasingly turning to more flexible training courses that can be held at any location. Instead of just relying on colleagues and transcripts, companies can now get support from eLearning, webinars, blended learning, and virtual classroom training.

Despite their advantages, these approaches also have their drawbacks. They provide information for specific topics and projects, creating small islands of knowledge in an ever-growing ocean of new tasks. But above all, who really wants to watch hour-long tutorials when a quick call would suffice? In the age of Google, we’re used to finding answers at the click of a mouse.

This all speaks in favor of a much more pragmatic approach. Instead of ‘stockpiling’ knowledge, we need targeted guidance at exactly the right moment. It should be as simple and instant as asking a colleague for advice—an all-knowing colleague, that is.

Digitally advanced businesses need highly flexible employees. The future belongs to teams that can quickly access help, guides, and courses at any time.

Kinder lernen im Kontext, sie erleben ihre Umwelt unmittelbar

Help employees help themselves

Contextual learning is a complex name for a simple concept. Even as children, we learn by experiencing our environment and asking questions while doing things. This principle forms the foundation for a new generation of software solutions: digital learning aids that can be easily integrated into work processes. An application constantly runs in the background and gives employees tips exactly when they need them.

Learning content is reduced to the essentials. That could include advice from internal or external sources, such as step-by-step lists or support for technical problems. It’s clear how enabling employees to help themselves could save time and effort for help desk staff, who are commonly overloaded.

Pull, don’t push

Of course, even the best software cannot solve all problems. But ideally it will help you find the information you need. Better still, it should have a function that enables you to share relevant content with the team—a particularly useful feature for the help desk. Context-based notifications about new rules and regulations are also helpful. These notifications could relate to an internal policy, such as “think before you print”. Or they could be used to inform employees about changes to the Salesforce user interface or corporate travel policy, for example.

In short, contextual help can quickly fill critical gaps in knowledge. It is highly automated and requires no training expenses. Companies can share knowledge almost entirely according to the pull principle (independent learning as needed). The days of push learning (classroom training, for example) are almost over. An intelligent assistant for the many small and large hurdles in everyday work life—that’s a learning concept fit for the digital age.