There is a silver lining to the upheaval of the rapid transition to digital delivery of professional development and training. For Asia-Pacific (APAC) businesses, this unexpected upside is the power of data and analytics.
With learning taking place online, there is an unprecedented opportunity to gain an intimate understanding of learner engagement, actionable insights into people’s performance, and the ability to personalise learning journeys aligned to business priorities.
Data makes all this possible.
Until fairly recently, the extent of the data available to leaders was restricted to whether employees had passed or failed a course. While knowing this is important, it doesn’t tell the full story of a learning journey.
These basic metrics give no insight into why a learner failed or dropped out of a course early, which resources were (or were not) accessed before an assessment, or what impact certain learning interventions had on the outcome.
Understanding these deeper elements not only allows a learning offering or training program to be continually improved and enhanced, but also enables the trainer to recognise which competencies each learner has achieved.
Critically, in a digital environment all this data can be stored within the same platform which then acts as a ‘single source of truth’. This greatly streamlines and simplifies workflows, putting an end to manually wrangling excel spreadsheets to develop reports.
Vision Australia is a great example of an organisation that has embedded data and analytics in its approach to professional development.
Vision Australia helps empower people who are blind or have low vision to live the lives they choose. With 800 employees and 2,500 volunteers, it operates from 26 office locations across the country.
Presciently, shortly before 2020s COVID-19 lockdowns, it overhauled its previous Learning Management System (LMS) and implemented the Brightspace platform to help onboard new employees and keep existing team members up to date with required skills and competencies.
One of the key challenges it previously struggled with was keeping track of learner progress.
“In the past we had no clear insight into how our people were using our online learning resources. Today the Manager Dashboard gives us a real-time snapshot of everyone’s progress, and our managers can download the data into a report very easily,” said Laura Hendrey, Learning and Development Coordinator, Vision Australia.
As COVID-19 quickly rewrote the rules on how Vision Australia could support its clients – particularly in terms of upskilling to provide tele-consultations – the LMS greatly simplified both course delivery and keeping track of who was up to date with the required training.
“All our client work was previously face-to-face, so we had to rapidly develop training around providing telehealth services – we ran a number of training sessions on Zoom which we recorded and uploaded to Brightspace, so people could view it whenever they needed to,” she said. “We then set up a basic competency structure for the telehealth training, along with some assignments which were aligned to the competencies.”
With Vision Australia’s workforce spread across the nation, Hendrey said the platform’s Manager Dashboard also greatly simplified the process of monitoring who had completed mandatory third-party courses – such as an infection control course issued by the Commonwealth Department of Health for essential workers.
“We also released a COVID-19 infection control module via Brightspace within a matter of days and asked our users to upload their certificates to Brightspace, so we can track who has completed it,” explained Hendrey.
“Because we’d already established the platform as a one-stop-shop for learning and training, we were able to simply collect links to any mandatory courses and send them to all our employees and volunteers through Brightspace,” she said. “We then made it an assignment for anyone who had completed those courses to upload their certificates so we could run reports with just a single click to know who was up-to-date with their training.”
Whereas it previously used time-consuming spreadsheets and text documents to track each learner’s progress, the data-driven approach not only greatly streamlined the auditing and reporting process, it also allowed Vision Australia’s development leaders to gain real evidence of the competencies achieved – rather than just whether a particular course had been completed.
In many industries, this auditable knowledge of competencies gained can mean the difference between adhering or running afoul of certain regulations. Data and analytics are a powerful tool in ensuring training is always up to date.