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The future of virtual learning and development


United Kingdom

Online learning and development tools constitute one of the most active subsectors of the tech market, sometimes referred to as 'edtech'. Fieldfisher solicitor Hannah Bignell spoke to client Fuse Universal about the company's platform and how this type of technology is changing the way companies train their workforces.

The Covid world has challenged workplace views on working from home. It has been demonstrated that thanks to increased digitalisation and technology, many employees are able to work successfully and productively from home.
Other elements of our working environment are also evolving, including how we see learning and development.
Even before Covid-19 made mass remote working essential, online learning and development tools, sometimes referred to as 'edtech', was a thriving area of corporate activity and a notable sub-sector of Fieldfisher's VC investment instructions in 2019.
Companies like Fuse Universal, a leader in developing virtual learning and development through its integrated learning platform designed to deliver measurable results, are making progress possible.
We interviewed the Head of Presales at Fuse Universal, Ilona Brannen, to get her thoughts on the future of learning and development in the workplace.
1. What are the benefits for companies of providing a mobile learning and development platform to employees? 

The biggest benefit is that you can access specific learning and development materials when you need them.
It is more beneficial for employees because they can use this on a day-to-day basis and look up relevant materials when it is relevant to them, compared to face-to-face training that can be informative but may not be useful to those employees at that particular time.
As many are working from home and this offering is available on mobile devices, it increases the flexibility of when employees can access learning and development.
It also gives employees the opportunity to build a social network within
2. Why do you think digital platforms are more engaging than other forms of virtual training such as online courses? 

A good analogy for online courses is a library. Individuals will go to a library to look up a particular book and may stay in the library to read it.
A library is for solo learning, whereas our mobile platform is about collaboration and sharing diverse ideas. It is an interactive space in which colleagues learn from each other.
Three important areas that are emerging include digitalisation of content, facilitating training in a virtual environment and knowledge management.
We believe our platform houses this information in a meaningful way for users to get logical value.
3. Has allowing employees to share experience and knowledge on the platform led to an increase in employee interaction? 

If you get to share something you have learnt, you get to teach someone something and you will learn the information in a better way.
The real businesses of the future will be those that think and actively promote a collaborative and interactive learning culture. Learning agility is the ability to learn, unlearn and re-learn things.
We need to be able to be agile to what is relevant in terms of learning and development and pivot as necessary to ensure we share that information across the company.
Research has also shown that better decisions are made when people from different backgrounds decide together, rather than those decisions being made by people from similar backgrounds.
We believe our platform increases social mobility and diversity due to its virtual offering.
4. What do you think are the biggest challenges to using a mobile learning and development platform?
It has sometimes been a challenge for people to understand the platform's value and give it enough time to have a lasting impact.
It is important to communicate the value of the platform from the top down and build behaviours so that colleagues use it every day.
5. How can companies encourage employees to share their experience and knowledge on the platform? 

It depends on the type of business. For example, if there is a subject matter expert, asking them to digitalise their content can be an easy solution.
Companies can also provide templates so employees are not starting with a blank slate when creating content.
Other suggestions include nominating people, delegating learning responsibility and actively encouraging employees to be a responsible part of the business.
6. What feedback have you received from companies who have used the employee performance coaching tools on the platform? 

This really depends on the amount of effort the company puts into using the platform.
The platform is just a tool and if it is not used properly, businesses will not see the benefits.
It is important for companies to invest in it as an activity. Most businesses do this naturally and now they just need to capture it – i.e., if you have an important meeting, reflect on it through the platform.
Also, businesses can link the platform to business goals, so it becomes a goal for employees individually as well as for the business.
This article was written by Hannah Bignell, corporate solicitor at Fieldfisher. With thank to Fuse Universal and Ilona Brannen for taking the time to share their insights on virtual learning and development.

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