Resources from the episode:

Transcript of the interview:

Docebo 0:07
Hi everyone and welcome to the first episode of the learning elevated podcast brought to you by Docebo, the show where we help you elevate your learning efforts and move up in the world of enterprise learning and development. Today guiding you on your journey up the tower will be your elevator operators myself, Kerri Moore and my co host, Rob Ayre. So each week we’ll be stopping off at a new floor. And today we’re getting off on the very first floor – Wonderland where we’re going down the rabbit hole to look at the learner experience. Now Kerri, why do you think we called it Wonderland for this episode? Well, because it is so focused on the learning experience, so focused on the experience of the person that is going down the rabbit hole and with learning experience, I think you can take it in so many different places. It is so vast, there’s so many different things you can do. You might have, you know, one section of the room where you’re trying different portions, you might have another section of the room where you’re making yourself bigger or smaller.

Anything could happen, basically. So I think it perfectly sums it up. Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think the more that we’ve looked into the learner experience and certainly in the interview that we’re about to go to the learner experience is so closely linked to the employee experience. And and you know, I think there’s there’s a lot to be said about how important a strong learning experience is when it comes to developing really positive company culture. Hundred percent, you’re right. I mean, it does go one in hand with the other, doesn’t it, because if someone is enjoying what they’re doing, and they’re learning the tasks that they’re employed to do, then they’re probably going to have a better outlook on life, they’re going to feel more connected to the company there in – yeah, it all make sense. Yeah, so true. So you know, what we’re going to start to do and as this is the first episode, what we’re going to do in the first little bit of each one of these episodes is go through a few of the articles that we read, to kind of bring us up to speed and educate ourselves on it.

So Kerri, you know, one of the first articles that I read that really spoke to me on this topic was Seven Essential Steps of the Learner Experience, and that was by Anna McCaplin, and she really, really kind of opened my eyes up to things that I maybe hadn’t really considered in that, you know, both of us coming from a bit of a marketing background, one of the first points that she made that I really appreciated was leveraging that marketing effort. You know, so you’re putting together this program in this strategy, and you’re focusing on trying to amplify the learning experience. But you know, that in itself doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to get out there. So what would I found in this article, which what she had kind of gone through is that by marketing the program, you’re really going to ignite a spark in employees that helps to build the excitement and really prepare them for that learning and that kind of got me excited because the whole idea of a positive learning experiences one that your learner’s are excited to take.

Absolutely. I you know what, I really love this because we forget so often, I think, inside of a company that we are actually working for each other. So we are – or the people in l&d are, in fact – marketing the courses that they created or that they found to their learners. And so you have to make sure that they buy into that, that they’re engaged in that they’re excited by that. So this just makes a lot of sense to me.

Yeah, absolutely. You know, one of the other things too, that I found kind of interesting. So the learning experience definitely expands well beyond the technology and even the content that’s provided. But I did think there was an interesting point in this article, and it’s not just in this article, it it comes up seemingly consistently across the board, which is about keeping content small, you know, yeah, you know, it’s like, let’s keep it bite sized, especially in this day and age with social media, people are, you know, attuned to maybe 10 seconds of attention span. Definitely, I know, mine is like that. Absolutely. So keeping it short, you know, that bite sized content, providing it, where they are, when they are and how they need it, you know, that whole going back to flow of work mentality. You know, I thought that was really an interesting part of this.

I absolutely agree with that. I mean, so often, we want to cram so much into something, we forget how that’s going to be perceived. Maybe it’s interesting to the person making the content and it probably really is, you know, I’m sure it’s great. But you have to think about how that’s going to be delivered and how people are going to take that in. So yeah, I completely agree with that.

Yeah, absolutely. You know, the one of the other things, and the kind of last point of that that I found was really interesting was, you know, as a learning and development professional listening to this, I’m sure you’re always thinking about how do I report on my learning? How do I even know that- Okay, I put this great, quote unquote learning experience in place, how do I know that’s, you know, doing anything? And one of the things that she brought up, and she made a really good point of was collect those key performance indicators and know what they are ahead of time. Yes, right. So you know, you’ve got multiple touch points for measurement that you can use to effectively identify the learning trends within your organization. And making sure you do that ahead of time. So, you know, you’re going to go into this and you think, Okay, how do I develop this positive learning experience? Well, base that off of what you want to achieve, so understanding your achievable goals ahead of time was, you know, a pretty well thought out process to put in place.

Absolutely. I agree with that. And you know what, that’s actually a perfect segue. I promise we didn’t do that on purpose. But into the article that I found, which was actually by Kerry Dunn on E Learning Industry, and it’s on Enhancing the Learner Experience, and she gives us Three Tips to Make Elearning More Engaging. Oh very cool. And obviously, I mean, we can talk about learning experience without talking about how engaged our learners are. But what I particularly liked about this article, how they set it up with exactly what you just said, Rob, and it was set up with the questions to ask yourself before you try to tackle these problems. And so the first one we’re talking about, you know, what kind of content is going to resonate with your learners, they’re just really specific to your organization as well. One thing that works for one may not work for the other. And, you know, does it actually make sense that this particular topic goes in that certain format, basically? And is that going to resonate? Does it make sense for that? So that was super interesting to me. And also another thing about that, as well as how do we actually engage with other learners as well? So in terms of like social learning, super trendy right now, really, really big buzzword, but does it actually make sense? Is that topic suitable for a social learning structure? Or, you know, how, what is the best way to facilitate communication between learners? Does it make sense in this capacity?

Yeah, you know, I find myself too, more often than not, when I’m really learning, it’s through that interaction with others. So, you know, I think about the times that I learn on social media platforms, for example, it’s typically not on the post itself. It’s in the comments section. Yeah, it’s true. Right? So I’m learning from the other people who are also learning from that sort of high level content. Yeah. And there’s no reason that that same mentality can be applied to enterprise learning within a, you know, sort of a technological technology environment.

Absolutely. I completely agree with that. And that kind of brings it on as well to one of the other points that I really wanted to raise is that making sure that learners are able to engage with the trainers something that I think can be missed sometimes in kind of the E learning industry when we are disconnected from people, we need to learn how to bring that human contact back into it again. So whether that’s just having them make webinars, or make videos of themselves while they’re showing you through things, or having that social learning aspect where it makes sense, so that colleagues can discuss and talk it just makes it so much more, I dont know, like visceral, this is how we learn with people and so we have to make it so that we get that human interaction in order to make things stick.

Yeah, absolutely. Well, listen, all this conversation on the learning experience makes me want myself to go down the rabbit hole. I’m taking you! That’s where we’re getting off! Let’s go down it. So what we’re going to do to go down that rabbit hole, we’re going to jump right into it, right now, we’ve got an incredible interview from one of our longtime partners at the Brandon Hall Group, and we’re going to send you over that interview now. Enjoy.

Welcome back, everybody. Today, we’re excited to be joined by David Wentworth, Principal analyst at the Brandon Hall Group. David, welcome to the learning elevated podcast.

David Wentworth 7:36
Well, thanks so much for having me. Happy to be here.

Docebo 7:39
So let’s start pretty simple. And by simple I also realize that this might turn into a bit of a larger answer, but generally speaking, what is a learner experience when it comes to enterprise learning?

David Wentworth 7:50
Wow, you know, I think one of the first things is to really lay out what it isn’t. I think there’s a lot of focus on sort of the technology experience for a lot of learners and you know, well, that’s part of the learner experience that’s really specifically user experience, right? Let’s make the technology easy to use, you know, the right number of clicks, the colors are good, all that. That’s that user experience. And it’s important, but it’s really just one piece of a much broader approach to learning, which is this learner experience. And it goes from start to finish, say, oh, there’s a piece of the strategy or the learning strategy are important to the learner experience. Obviously, the way we deliver the content that we’re using, and how we’re using that even the way we measure learning has a big impact on the learner experience. So it’s a pretty all encompassing concept. And I think what you’re seeing is a lot of companies really recognizing that they need to move beyond user experience and think about it, because they’re looking at this also. They’re thinking about their customer experience. They’re thinking about their overall employee experience. And so this is a big part of that and it’s really, yeah, a big sum of a lot of smaller moving parts.

Docebo 9:05
Now, we know you’ve done lots of research on high impact and low impact organizations in your learner experience survey, so have you noticed what sets high impact businesses apart, in terms of delivering a great learner experience?

David Wentworth 9:18
Oh, absolutely. I mean, you know, we definitely wanted to dig into that a little bit. And we found that these companies that are having a high impact on things like time to productivity and individual performance and employee engagement, we tried to see if they were doing things differently than companies that maybe weren’t having an impact on those types of outcomes. And there was definitely some clear differences. You know, so like, from a strategy perspective, the high impact companies are far more likely to incorporate, you know, learner feedback into the strategy process. And they’re also more likely to have a learning strategy that’s well aligned with the business. And you know, at the most basic level, they’re just far more likely to have a learning and development strategy that’s actually defined – they’ve actually put some time and effort into it put into place. So, you know, for those companies that think that they can just create this great learner experience with, you know, a few technologies and so forth. The truth is it begins at a much bigger level at the strategy level. And then when you do get into things like technology, we found that the high impact companies are far more likely to use things like video learning and peer to peer learning and mobile delivery. Not saying that the lower impact companies don’t use them. But the high impact companies use them more frequently and with more consistency. And then they also are very keen to include things like the ability to provide learning recommendations based on what they know about the learner, they’re more likely to provide opportunities to apply and practice knowledge. They’re more likely to have learner feedback mechanisms in place so that they can incorporate that feedback into the learning creation loop. And by doing all this It just allows them to also be able to measure the learning by outcomes, it makes it easier to measure outcomes rather than just things like completion rates and smile sheets alone.

Docebo 11:12
Right, you know, the impact and feedback from learners is something that I’ve found pretty interesting, you know, what are some of the best practices that you’ve seen there, maybe tactically, that sort of sets organizations apart, you know, in terms of actually putting a focus on getting that feedback?

David Wentworth 11:27
Well, I mean, there’s a lot of different layers to it, it can be as simple as providing forums for learners to discuss the learning amongst their cohorts. There’s a lot of really good feedback that comes from those types of interactions that might not be direct, you know, learner to learning leader or learner to instructional designer feedback, but you’re getting a lot of really quality feedback about that learning experience based on what people are saying to each other in these forums, And then, you know from a more direct feedback route is just, you know, maybe taking that smile sheet to the next level and asking questions that are a little bit more in depth beyond simply ‘did you like this or not?’ And even beyond, you know, ‘how likely are you to apply this knowledge or change behavior’ or what have you, but those questions are important. I think we’ve seen companies get into a little bit of asking, not only those types of questions, but also, ‘what’s your confidence in that?’ So you say that you understand this and you say that you’re going to put it into practice – How confident are you in that response? And you can actually, you know, there are companies doing the analysis on that to see, you know, how much of an impact they’re having on their learners and using that kind of feedback. And then, you know, it’s always important to have we’ve seen companies have a lot of success with that coaching mentoring platform, that type of loop, where you’re getting that type of feedback, going in both directions, but in the context of learning, that’s the kind of feedback that is vital to know, as learners going through their path. They can be talking to their coach about where they’re getting hung up, what they might be struggling with, what parts of the learning are working for them and what isn’t. And that’s a really valuable piece of feedback that you can collect.

Docebo 13:20
So in terms of the business kind of investing in learning experience, why should they? Why is that important to businesses?

David Wentworth 13:29
Well, I mean, I put it pretty simply in that the one thing that’s always been missing from learning is the ‘what’s in it for me?’ Yeah. And, you know, it’s a thing that we tend to not think about, we think of it sort of almost negatively, but the truth is, that’s what learners want. That’s what they need. They need to know, okay, you presented me with this learning or all of these learning options. Why? Why does it matter to me and that isn’t just me personally, but why does it matter to me in my role in the organization, why does it matter to me, based on the teams that I am part of, why does it matter to me based on my role in the organization and what I’m supposed to be doing, to help the organization grow and succeed and be better? Creating a learning experience that is relevant encompasses those elements as well. It isn’t just the relevancy to me, because, you know, I’m a level three engineer, but all those other elements too, and by creating that relevancy, you’ve created engagement, from the very beginning, right, somebody knows what the end point is, what the ultimate goal is, and so they’re much more engaged in the learning. Learning starts to feel more like part of their job rather than something separate, because you’ve made that connection. Right. So now the learning isn’t some sort of outside interference to the job, but it’s actually a tool to help you do your job better. And so what you doing is creating that sort of a type of engagement, that kind of connection through this experience, which is eventually going to drive the behaviors and the results that we’re all after.

Docebo 15:00
So when you know a lot of the listeners for this are in that l&d leadership space, you know, as they walk away from this, what kind of tools or planning? Should they start to put in place so that they can create a great learning experience?

David Wentworth 15:17
Yeah, so I think, you know, we touched on a few of them, but the idea of anything that allows you to connect learners with one another in new ways, and also, take advantage of the way people are already working in your organization. I think we don’t want to overwhelm people with communication and connectivity platforms. They’re already doing a lot of that. So if we could find ways to incorporate this into the places that they’re already working, you know, so tools that either work in conjunction with or mimic the way people are already working is key. Anything that that allows the connection in the communication so that learners can learn from one another, at least to some degree. Even if it’s not fully fledged, learner generated content, which we’re seeing a lot of success with, even if it’s just being able to connect, because that’s one of the first things people do. After they might Google something they’re going to ask somebody they know and somebody they work with, it might have a similar experience. So whatever we can do to help connect learners to each other, and learn that way. And then I think it does get into what I was talking about earlier about that user experience. You do want to have technology in place that are intuitive, easy to navigate, don’t feel like a chore when you’re trying to get people from point A to point B. So whatever we can do to make those learning focus technologies to be as non intrusive and, and as easy to navigate as possible. So, you know, there’s a lot of elements and it depends on what you’re doing, what your your audience is whether or not you need to really focus on, say, mobile delivery, whether or not you need to – how in depth, the social component needs to be a lot of the learning experience, we’re seeing a lot of success with things like video. And we’re talking short form video, simply taking an hour long lecture and turning it into an hour long video isn’t going to change very much. But you know, anything we can do to really distill down the key points and the key elements that we need to get across, and help fit that into an employee’s daily life so that they’re not being completely front loaded with all your material and expected to recall and act upon it days, weeks, months, years down the road.

Docebo 17:46
So how, in your opinion, do you think that organizations can actually measure the success of this because obviously, it’s always such an issue. It’s so subjective, whether someone is enjoying the courses that you’ve made. And so yeah, is there any kind of measuring systems that you think we could use?

David Wentworth 18:01
Well, I mean, you know, to me, it’s always about the outcomes. And so it’s about starting from, before you even put any of this in place, before you launch anything or roll any programs out is what is the ultimate goal. And that’s what we should be measuring against. And so determining up front, what those metrics are, is key. And so getting input from around the organization that people who actually know what those metrics are, and how they’re generated and where to find them. You know, that’s an important element. But, you know, it’s really about determining whether these behaviors are changing, these outcomes are being achieved. And a lot of times, that’s only you can only do that through, as simple as it sounds, A?B testing, you know, have a control group. You’re going to have a group of people who maybe didn’t take the training or didn’t experience the learning, and you can compare them to the folks that have and see if there’s a difference and, you know, we’ve talked to a lot of organizations, they have a there’s a challenge there where, you know, it’s tough to put together a great program, and then go to the business and say, ‘Look, we’ve got this great program in place, we want to roll it out, but we don’t want these people to take it.’ Right. So it’s, you know, but the truth is, it’s probably in your best interest to do that. Because let’s say, it isn’t achieving your outcomes. So that’s one of the biggest problems I think learning has is I think, we tend to think that the mere fact that we put a learning program together, the fact that it exists means that it’s valid, and that it works and that it’s good. And that’s why companies only measure completion, because look, we wouldn’t have built it if it wasn’t great. So all we need to know is did people finish it? And then we know we’ve done our job. So the reality is, it’s probably worth it to create some control groups, some A/B testing, because if it doesn’t work, you don’t have to either untrain or retrain everybody, right, you can go back and make the make the sixes so that we can finally roll it out to everybody in a much better form. And that’s a big part of this learning experience, everything has to be at least somewhat iterative. You have to be prepared to not take this big long instructional design journey all the time. You have to be prepared to roll things out when you maybe don’t even think they’re finished. Because there’s a good chance you’re going to have to adjust them anyway. Even if you think it’s 100% you’re gonna have to adjust it anyway. So why not roll it out before you’ve invested that work that time that money on stuff you’re just going to have to change later?

Docebo 20:30
Yeah, absolutely. David, I’m curious, what are what are some of the benefits and impacts that a really strong learning experience can have on an organization?

David Wentworth 20:40
Yeah, I think you touched on one that sticks out right away and one that companies have always been after for one reason or another, and it has been hard to really get a handle on is employee engagement. You know, that means something different to a lot of different organizations, right? You’ll even find an organization that will sort of write it off as meaningless, but I think the fact of the matter is because we want to be somewhat engaged at work, even if they’re not going to, on an employee survey tell you that they’re engaged, if we’re hitting all the right points, we can engage people, and that’s I think, what’s one of learnings biggest challenges. We’ve been focused on engaging people in the learning itself, right. So let’s make sure we have enough interactions in the content. But going back to my earlier point, are we engaging them as to why they’re taking the learning what it means the organization of pull them into this whole overall experience? You know, I think that’s the key element. So you can really drive employee engagement because people feel as though you’re giving them what they need to do their jobs, right. Isn’t that one of the things that most people want? I mean, we asked in one of our studies, we asked learners or employees what they really want. One of the number one things they want is access to information. So that’s sort of our job. Yeah, let’s provide that to them. Let’s give them the tools they need to do their job. They’re going to feel more engaged, they’re going to be, hopefully more productive and perform better. So that’s I think one of the, the main benefits, but also taking an experience based approach where you’re basing everything around what your ultimate outcomes are anyway. Well, those are the benefits right there because you’re building something very specifically to achieve an outcome, and by achieving that outcome, that’s, you know, that’s the reward, rather than, you know, creating a bunch of generic programs, buying a lot of generic content, making it available and crossing your fingers and hoping that people have taken it and applying it and that your results are being achieved. So you can do a lot of things. You can improve engagement, you can impact outcomes. You can also by taking this sort of approach to learning, you’re actually helping learning adjust to the business, because, you know, we all hear it every day, how fast everything’s moving, everything’s changing, digital transformation, you know, the business, has to be very agile and respond to customer needs, you know, the needs of the market, which are changing rapidly. And all the traditional ways of doing learning. There are, right out of the gate, they are are already, you know, retroactive, right, we’re already looking backwards when we create most of these things. But then a lot of the mechanisms that are in place, very difficult to adjust on the fly to make changes as the business changes. By taking a more iterative approach, trying to keep learning smaller, less obtrusive you can then create an atmosphere where learning can adjust on the fly, you can adjust to business needs, and you can actually, hopefully, start to be proactive. And sort of and I’ve always said this, that learning really has to be a leader when it comes to digital transformation, because it’s the people in the organization that have to transform and that’s learning’s job.

Docebo 24:00
Yeah, absolutely.

David Wentworth 24:01
Yeah. I mean, learning – digital transformation isn’t we just bought a bunch of new software so now we’re digital. Right? We’re talking about new skills, new hierarchies, new ways of doing things. And it’s the people that have to bring the organization there. And if we’re not developing them to do that, if we’re not ahead of the curve, it’s never going to happen.

Docebo 24:20
Yeah, you know, one of the things that I’ve always found kind of curious and interesting with speaking with, you know, even our customers or even just other l&d professionals, is how closely linked the learning experiences to the employee experience, but then also how much of an impact that can have on a corporate culture. So, from your perspective, you know, what can organizations do, and also what kind of buy into the need for maybe the executive level or the leadership level, to really make sure that that strong learning experience that they’re building does help to positively influence and impact their corporate culture?

David Wentworth 24:53
Yeah, you know, I can’t stress enough how much executive buy in means to this or almost anything else. And sometimes it’s looked at as a given like, Oh, of course, it would be great if executives have buy in and then maybe they do. And then people think well, as corny as the CEO comes in and talks about our new learning program. It’s not. Time and time again, we see when executive teams come in and champion this new way of doing things, or this new program or model, even, the behaviors that we’re expecting. Like, oh, listen, we have this new platform where we can communicate, I am there, I’m communicating, let’s all do this. It always works. People, you know, they get it. So there’s no doubt that executive buy in has a huge impact. I would say that it is necessary. You know, you asking like what level I’d say, a decent level, you need to have some sort of champion some sort of sponsor that gets this and we see it time and time again in companies that do get it and do put this into play. So it’s a big piece of it. And then you know, just for a lot of organizations, that type of thing is a learning culture shift. And you really can’t do that without executive leadership.

Docebo 26:07
Yeah, absolutely. So David, you know, for some of our listeners who want to learn a little bit more about the Brandon Hall Group, you know, what type of what type of opportunities are available to them through your organization.

David Wentworth 26:19
Oh, sure, we work with a lot of organizations of different industries and sizes, and we cover the entire HCM spectrum. So we help organizations work through everything from the technology selection, whether it’s learning or talent management or talent acquisition. We know that’s a very challenging process for a lot of organizations so we can help with that a lot. We have a massive case study library of basically, you know, you name it from a human capital perspective. And we’ve got a series of case studies on how organizations are excelling with it. Whether you know, it’s everything from mobile learning or building a learning team to, you know, onboarding programs, and anything you can think of. So we’ve got this vast cast study library as a resource for organizations. We also obviously keep an eye on all the technologies that are out there. So we can help make sense of what the market looks like, and what new technologies are coming down the road, what’s real, what type, and that and then, you know, we are basically the main thing we do with organizations is advisory time, help work through learning strategies. We do that all the time. And, you know, even just down to our membership center is full of questions big and small, you know, anytime you have a question, you can reach out to one of the analysts and will help answer any questions you might have.

Docebo 27:49
Great. Well, David, thank you so much for joining us today on the learning elevated podcast. It’s been an absolute pleasure for both of us to speak with you.

Thank you so much, David.

David Wentworth 27:57
It’s a great thank you so much.

Docebo 28:01
What a fantastic interview. I really, really enjoyed speaking to David today.

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, again, we can’t, we can’t thank David enough for being on the show. And thank you to the Brandon Hall group before for making him available. You know, those insights are, you know, they’re really interesting just for us to hear them, but for our listeners, I think it goes a long way, you know, especially even the most sort of simple ideas that you’re learning strategy is super critical to your learning experience.

Yeah, like, of course, it makes sense. But unless you have that written out in front of you, of course, yeah.

Yeah, absolutely. You know, and I really appreciate it. And as always, the these resources will be available on the website. But from the research of Brandon Hall Group just knowing that high impact companies are using those things like video training, they’re focusing on that mobile delivery more often, and, you know, they’re they’re doing it with more consistency. You know, I think that’s the kind of feedback that people can sort of take back to their day to day jobs and say, okay, how can I shorten this content? How can I take this six hour piece of training and put it into pills. How can I, you know, how can I just sort of change it up so that is something that I would want to take.

Absolutely. And that also goes back down to again, making the learning more personalized, having those recommendations personalized to the person that you’re speaking to, and then giving people the opportunities to apply and practice that knowledge. That’s just so important to give people that opportunity. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, anytime that you can take something back and actually do it, exactly, you’re gonna reinforce it, you’re gonna feel so much better about what you’ve learned. It’s stuck there. It’s now a memory. It’s an experience.

Totally, and I hope all those those learning administrators out there and even instructional designers appreciated his sort of feedback on measurement. You know, it’s always great to hear how how good the learning experience is based on what your you know, what your people are saying to each other, in sort of using that social learning platform, yeah, really, really helpful.

That was, I found that particularly interesting because I’ve never really thought about that before about how you can use like a social learning platform to gather intel as well about what your learners are saying to each other because they might I’ll tell you, or their surveys might be different. But you’re going to find that within the platform, so that was incredible.

Yeah. So we’re, you know, we’re going back up this elevator. I hope everybody joins us next week, we’re going to be going to the Dojo with Annie Davies. So cool. So exciting. So she’s from Pride Global, so be sure to tune back in, and we will be excited to have you back for another episode. For more information on what we’ve discussed today, including links to resources and downloadable assets, go to, that’s, and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also find us on iTunes, Spotify, or anywhere else that you get your podcasts by searching for ‘learning elevated’, so don’t forget to click subscribe so you know when we’re disembarking on another floor.

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Floor 1: WonderlandDavid Wentworth