Interview with Andreas Urban, Director of Services at Speexx
Digital transformation has radically changed the way training is perceived by employees. Once “a pain point”, it has now become a necessity to guarantee employability. Modern learners are hungry for knowledge and take power over their learning paths- this is where the user-centric approach comes into play. But how can we make these learners happy?
A trend is emerging in the world of training, the “user-centric” approach, or collaborative experience. What is it about?
The idea of the user-centric approach is guided by users’ current environment and by the fact that they have various electronic tools at their disposal, such as computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc., which can be used to create a central user interface. The way they use these tools tends to change their behavior. They now expect to take an active part in how they consume content, and this also applies to their training. It is possible, for example, to compare the consumption of learning to the Netflix experience where you choose what you want to watch.
The second reason for the development of the user experience is that companies put forward career developments around a project, or more horizontally rather than on a vertical trajectory. This means that learning can take place in the context of a project or by improving skills you need immediately. This also means that training needs to be customized to fit the specific context of the need to be addressed. This is essential in the “user-centric” approach.
The specific learning needs of the employee should be investigated. We must also ask ourselves what their objectives are, what are the challenges they face in their daily professional life, but also what are their preferences in terms of method. It is also necessary to identify the level of knowledge, what the employee masters and what needs to be improved according to the imperatives of the profession. For example, for an employee who must work in English, it will be necessary to ask them whether they could hold a presentation at a meeting, convince people or communicate in writing.
The more you know about the user, the more customizable it will be in the future, don’t you think?
I think so because there is a real demand on the part of users and businesses precisely because of the change in behavior explained above. But these trends also come from the possibilities offered by artificial intelligence, which develops algorithms to help systems anticipate users’ needs and desires. For these reasons, customization will become the starting point for training. Learning methods will adapt to the topics users are interested in but also to the way they want to learn. Some will prefer virtual classes, while others will choose chatbot communication.
How does this user-centric approach translate at Speexx?
We specialize in improving language and communication skills, including English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. We try to create the most personalized learning environment possible. We first offer an online evaluation for the user to find out what their level is and what their expectations are. We are then able to identify what the gaps are according to their professional needs. On basis of this analysis, we propose a path and contents adapted to their objectives, to their profession, to their sector, but also to their availability or to their personality.
With us, it can be defined in two ways according to a macrolearning or microlearning approach. We either bring something new, for example, that the user should acquire a higher level- this is called macrolearning. Or we focus on a skill that needs to improve in order to excel at their current level. It is then a question of filling gaps, and is a principle of microlearning. Today, everyone practices this last method daily. If you have a question, you go to Google to find the answer. What’s innovative about our solution is that we provide learners with trainers who can provide specific answers to specific questions- for example, when the translation of a term is quickly needed during a presentation. They are available 24 hours a day. We call this service “learner coaching” or performance support.
Andi is the Director of Global Services at Speexx, the world’s leading online language learning and business communication skills training service. He writes, speaks and occasionally hosts webinars about learning languages online and the secret of the Perfect Blend and global talent management, Speexx and e-learning. Follow Andi on Twitter.