3 Challenges Posed by Creator-Centric Learning Needs and How to Rise to Them

The new ebook from the Instilled by PeopleFluent team, ‘Our Creator-Centric Future: How to Build Effective Learning Programs in a World Where Everyone Is a Creator’ prepares L&D professionals to benefit from employee-authored, user-generated learning content. In this extract, we look at three key issues that creator-centric platforms such as learning experience platforms (LXPs) can assist with.

In the lockdown context, the way people are less guarded about who they are beyond their working lives has served as an important reminder that the work of L&D is about nurturing people’s skills beyond their current role. By democratizing L&D (to a safe and sensible degree), we can nurture employee creativity and build skills like video and presentation production that they would otherwise not get many opportunities to practice.

Taking this creator-centric approach doesn’t just benefit your employees. It also answers a trio of specific needs—two centered on employee demographics, and one more wide-ranging—that make the move entirely imperative.

Related reading: ‘Rewarding Self-Directed Learners through Learning Technologies [How-To]’

1. Onboarding Gen Z, the Creator-Centric Generation

The next generation to draw the attention of organizations of all kinds is Gen Z—sometimes called ‘Zoomers’. The oldest members of the Gen Z grouping are already taking their first steps into employment. With the effect of the lockdown and post-lockdown economy on Gen Z as yet untold, we can at least safely say that they bring with them expectations about technology and learning that will differ greatly from preceding generations.

Of the political, economic, and social factors that have defined the boundary between Millennials and Gen Z, technology is particularly significant to L&D. Whereas Millennials came of age at the introduction of Wi-Fi, broadband, smartphones, streaming entertainment and social media, Gen Z has largely never experienced a world without such technologies.

Accordingly, one key difference between Gen Z and Millennials is that while Millennials are comfortable with training delivered digitally, Gen Z is far more likely to have received some degree of formal education—particularly ‘paperless homework’—via digital means for most of their lives. The 2020 lockdown has ensured that almost all members of Gen Z will have received learning material digitally and in various digital formats over a sustained period.

But the practice was already widespread prior to this. The National School Boards Association suggests that 70% of teachers assign homework that requires a broadband connection. This implies that their efforts go well beyond emailing question sheets, and require the use of various rich media formats. The 2018 Cambridge International Global Education Census suggested that 64% of students worldwide use a smartphone to do their homework.

Outside of school, this is a generation that’s constantly connected to the internet and each other. They’re very at home with informal means of transfer. Their favorite online venues—TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitch—are creator-led environments. If you provide creator-led learning environments in a corporate context, they will be enthusiastic users and potential promoters. If you don’t? Well, one Dell study suggested that 91% would be influenced in their job choice by the technology on offer. A company’s learning platform is unlikely to be top of their tech list, but older approaches may undermine a Gen Z-friendly pitch.

Handpicked for you: ‘Why Video Microlearning is Perfect for Combating Short Attention Spans’

2. Enabling Creator-Centric Retirements for Baby Boomers

Building creator-centric ecosystems isn’t just about catering to the needs of younger employees now moving through the ranks. It also answers some long-standing needs in terms of organization-level knowledge retention across the workforce. We’re in the middle of a roughly two-decade-long period in which the Baby Boomer generation is reaching 65 and aging into retirement—at a rate of around 10,000 people every day in the United States. 

Though this generation has proven to have unprecedented staying power—in 2018, the Pew Research Center found that 29% were still looking for work between the ages of 65 to 72 (just 21% of the prior generation had said the same in 2000)—the ongoing and significant loss of accumulated knowledge and experience is no small thing. Forbes suggests that 56% of retirees from this generation are in leadership positions.

The same Forbes article cites a survey suggesting that “57% of Boomers have shared half or less of the knowledge needed to perform their job responsibilities” and 21% have “shared none at all”. Clearly, this is inefficient and potentially damaging—all this knowledge lost, or at least left to be reinvented by their successors.

Quoted by Forbes, an initiative aiming to get employers to better serve retirees points to “a general failure to appreciate the value of who and what is walking out the door”. But there is also the time-intensive nature of planning and executing face-to-face knowledge transfer or work shadowing, as well as the potential for knowledge to get lost before it can be used and internalized.

Creator-centric tools have obvious value here. They give the retiree a voice in the handover process, and provide a record that can be revisited after employees have exited. Though video would be a particularly useful medium in this case—you could record aforementioned face-to-face sessions, and otherwise retain some of the nuance—other formats are equally valid if the employee is unequipped for or uncomfortable with video.

More on this topic: ‘Here’s Why You Should be Creating User-Generated Learning Content’

3. Allowing Everyone to ‘Learn Like They Live’ With a Creator-Centric Lifecycle

Of course, an employee also doesn’t have to be at the end of their working life to have a reason to leave your organization. Leaving the total sum of their knowledge transfer to the final days of their employment is risky. There’s rarely enough time to cover anything but the essentials. And that’s assuming that the exiting employee is fully cooperative and motivated to share their expertise with you.

A truly creator-centric approach isn’t about patching knowledge leaks as and when they present themselves. It needs to be a cultural decision in your organization. If a leaver has been slowly contributing their insight to your learning ecosystem throughout their time with you, they can continue to add value long after they’re gone.

You also stand to capture knowledge that will assist your teams during internal changes, such as promotions and team shifts. If an employee can go to your LXP for an answer rather than waiting for a reply from a busy manager who used to do their job, then that’s obviously a more efficient way of working.

This all has the potential to work across your workforce because, regardless of Zoomer preferences and the neatness of creator-centric structures as a solution to several knowledge-retention problems, the world is an increasingly creator-centric place for all of us. We may not all be creating TikToks for our friends or broadcasting our Fortnite Battle Royale victories on Twitch, but most people are or have been consumers and contributors on other creator-centric platforms.

Also on the blog: ‘Hollywood Hacks: 4 Ideas for Affordable, Professional-Quality Video Learning Content’

Continue Reading

The full version of this chapter goes on to consider how ubiquitous creator-centric practices already are, and the challenges of sustaining motivation and engagement in those same practices at your organization.

Discover these insights and more in the full version of our ‘Creator Centric’ ebook, as we take a look at why:

Download the ebook today.

The cover of the Instilled by PeopleFluent ebook, '3 Challenges Posed by Creator-Centric Needs and How to Rise to Them'

A version of this post originally appeared on the PeopleFluent blog.

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