I wanted to go back to school for a masters degree. I really did.
But the thought of taking online classes intimidated me. Could I learn the skills I wanted without even stepping foot in a classroom?
Now that I am half way through, I recognize the most valuable skill I have acquired is how to learn virtually.
Instead of raising my hand to ask the teacher a question in class, I send an electronic message through the learning platform.
When I need to talk to my classmates, I go into online discussion boards.
Digital learning is a very different way of learning from what I was used to when I was last on a college campus.
Get Ready to Learn Online, Too
In every profession, digital learning will be critical to train for a new position or advance in your job. For those who grew up reading textbooks and instruction manuals, the current learning tools are a big departure.
To keep ourselves relevant, we must learn the way our organizations and our professions offer training, which increasingly is becoming digital. It’s an easy way of learning for young workers but for the rest of us it’s a skill we need to add.
We already have made progress teaching ourselves all kinds of things! We have taught ourselves how to shop online, download songs and movies, stream television shows and program our DVR.
Now, we must teach ourselves to embrace new learning methods that allow us to keep our job skills current, use the newest technology in our industries, and respond to emerging trends.
What are the new digital learning methods?
Video has become a more common and engaging format for learning. So has gamification and short tutorials accessible on smartphone apps. Virtual lunch-and-learn programs are gaining in popularity, too.
- Dominos, the pizza chain, has created a pizza game to teach its new hires how to make pizza faster and boost menu knowledge.
- Taco Bell has created a searchable library of digital content with videos and quizzes so employees at all levels can learn about customer insights and new products from their mobile devices.
Managers will need to learn leadership skills digitally, too. According to a data from the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board, 62 percent of companies are using e-learning for leadership development. That’s a pretty clear indication of the future when only 32 percent of companies use formal mentoring for leadership development.
As a society, we’re busy people. We struggle with work life balance.
We don’t have time for instructor-led training and tutorial-heavy courses. As Chief Learning Officer notes, “That’s why Google has become the default learning management system for the modern connected worker.”
Once you open your mind to digital skill building, try these 5 steps
1. Analyze your skill gap
Recognize what you need to learn to succeed in your job today — and tomorrow. As Kelly Palmer, chief learning and talent officer at Degreed told CLOmedia.com: “If you stay up to date on current trends in the world and in your industry, that will help you see where the future skills and roles in the world of work are headed.”
2. Look for opportunities to learn that skill
Your company may offer training, but don’t rely on your employer to keep your skills up to date. My friend, a graphic artist, enrolled in an online course at a local college to learn how to use a new software program that would advance her in her job.
3. Refuse to be intimidated.
There is no doubt digital learning will take you out of your comfort zone. It may take you a few times of replaying a video to catch on. Digital learning often happens individually rather than in group settings. If something isn’t clicking, even if you are at a high level in your company, you need to be okay with asking someone for help.
4. Practice what you learn
Last summer I took a course on video editing. It took a lot of practice to ensure I had somewhat of a command of the skill. It’s okay to need to do something a half dozen times before you feel like you are getting it right. Just keep practicing!
5. Promote your new skill
Once you have learned a new skill, use it, and let others know you are using it. You want to let your employer or clients recognize you have a new skill and are staying current.
Digital learning is great for work life balance
The future will be even more reliant on digital learning as artificial intelligence and augmented reality are used in training. The intention of digital learning methods is to allow people to find the task more engaging and fit learning into their work life balance.
If you haven’t learned a new skill in the last year, be ready to change that.
It can be as easy as tapping on your smartphone.