Leaders talk navigating multiple learning platforms at HR Indaba Conversations

Ongoing professional development requires learning, unlearning and relearning.

Henley Business School, like many other institutions of higher learning, was forced to adapt to the new normal brought on by the pandemic and think of innovative ways to deliver education. They have done this using nano-learning, also known as bite-sized learning, a continuous learning process in which the learner acquires knowledge without investing long hours.

The future of education will require tech skills, experts, business acumen, educational skills and a focus on value. Psychological support and care will also be crucial, said Jon Foster-Pedley, dean and director at Henley Business School. Jon was speaking at an HR Indaba Conversation on learning and unlearning, sponsored by Henley Business School.

Trevor Kunda, group head of learning and leadership development at Discovery said that the issue with delivering education in a traditional manner, in the classroom, is that is very expensive and difficult to scale, which was the case at Discovery where 95 percent of their learning was taking place in classrooms, and the pandemic was a great opportunity to close these gaps.

“The Covid-19 pandemic was a blessing in disguise in a way and an opportunity for us to close the gaps at Discovery. Our main goal was to deliver good quality learning, so we started off at a basic level and got an LMS in place and started using the LinkedIn learning platform. We also relied on data to show that what people were learning had relevance for the business, which helped us get the buy-in and investment into the platforms we are currently using,” he explained.

Discovery took things a step further and looked at how they could support learners in completing their tasks. “We are currently experimenting with virtual classrooms and virtual reality, advance analytics and data science. However, you have to get the timing right and be clear on what are the things that are going to help move you forward, while making it fun and exciting for users,” he said.

According to Gcobisa Ntshona, human resource director at LexisNexis, the Covid-19 pandemic has really exposed things we previously took for granted, such as time management while working remotely, and trying to manage that while learning has been quite difficult for most.

“Learning for us was centred on institutionalised learning, and we had to really consider the type of learning we wanted as an organisation, as well as invest in a meaningful way.” This is when the LMS system came into play. “For us, a learning management system made the most sense and has proven to be extremely effective,” she explained.

Investing in new learning platforms can be an expensive exercise for many organisations with an expected return on investment; however, this should not be the primary focus. “While there is a ROI component to investing in new learning platforms, it is also important to consider the value of the learning experience that has nothing to do with money,” she explained.

“For us, ROI has been about establishing a culture and getting our people to see the connection between how we learn and develop, rather than how much money we put in and what we’ll get back from that investment.”

Gcobisa also mentioned that care is an often-overlooked aspect of learning, especially given that during the pandemic, many of us were trying to learn, work, and get information online, which caused a lot of fatigue. To address this fatigue, LexisNexis focused on flexibility.

According to Saffron Baggallay, director at Saffron Baggallay & Associates, online learning can be quite intimidating for many, especially if you are not the most technologically savvy person out there. In order to get more people to shift into the new way of learning, they need to be eased in rather than thrown into the deep end.

“Most of my work is done face-to-face, so having to shift to online training was quite difficult for me,” she said. “I began with a fear of technology and struggled to embrace it; I struggled with virtual platforms such as Zoom, so I had to step back and learn how it worked,” she explained.

Saffron added that, while she was not the most technologically savvy person, the constant travel she had to do became exhausting, and the shift toward online learning could not have come at a better time.

“This transition to online has been very exciting for me because it has allowed me to break everything down into bite-sized pieces, and for the first time ever, I am able to tell my clients that when they sign up to my platform, they will have 50 hours of resources available to them for life.” When I was developing my learning platform, it occurred to me that it needed to reflect how information was available to us in real life, while also being exciting enough for learners.”

Gloria Makhafola, senior manager HR at Konecranes, provided an industrial perspective on learning in the session’s breakout room, explaining that the challenge in her industry is mindset. “There is a need for a mindset shift; people are too used to learning in classrooms and are not as open to online learning,” she explained. “We HR leaders need to walk them through it and get them to engage with these online learning platforms.”

All of the panellists agreed that, in the future, learning in the country must evolve, and that this will necessitate collaboration. Collaborating across business will be critical, as will simple conversations with people who have the knowledge.

In the chat
“We must adapt the approach of ‘LEARN, UNLEARN and RE-LEARN’ in order to succeed in our continuous professional development.” – Desikan Naidoo, Henley Business School

“Embrace the notion of Just-In-Time Learning”, which allows you to obtain the skills today and do the job tomorrow.” – Desikan Naidoo, Henley Business School

“Self-managed learning is the future; it will need HR to play a critical role.” – Graham Fehrsen, CHRO of NOVO
“Curation and experience design skills will be critical in for L&D professionals.” – Trevor Kunda, Discovery