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New Ways of Learning in the Workplace Using Screens

We’re seeing a rise in a new method of learning in the workplace: screens play a big part.

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If, like me, you’re a bit of a movie buff you may know useless trivia, like for the 1997 Titanic movie (the one with Leo and Kate), there were 150 core extras hired to stay with the film throughout its entire production.

Being set in 1912 meant any extras on set would need to not only be dressed in appropriate Victorian clothes, but would also need to understand proper 1912 mannerisms, so it made sense to teach one core group. According to IMDB,

“They and other performers learned proper 1912 behavior in a 3-hour course from Lynne Hockney, who was also the film's choreographer. Hockney also produced a video "Titanic Etiquette: A Time Traveler's Guide", which was then left playing continuously in the wardrobe department.”

You know what that’s an example of? Using screens in the workplace to share ambient content and enforce learning while the learners (in this case, the actors) are barely even aware of it. In this case, creating a video and repeatedly playing it in an area where the actors would always see it, the wardrobe department.

An introduction to modern workplace learning

This may have taken place in the 90s but it’s actually one of the methods that organizations are beginning to use today as a modern approach to workplace learning. Here are some of the aspects of the current status quo that’s it important to understand when accessing learning and development programs in your office.

Access to knowledge is easier

The internet, smartphones, social media, aggregated news centres. All of these channels make it easier than ever for employees to gain access to knowledge. This is a key consideration for training programs - if the employee can get access to more relevant and up-to-date information online, are they going to take your, slightly dated, training program seriously?

Attention spans are shorter

There are more distractions than ever, which makes it pretty obvious that our ability to focus on one task at a time has reduced. When thinking about learning in the workplace, short bursts may be more effective than lengthy sessions.

A new commitment to lifelong learning

Internet guru Mary Meeker suggests in her Internet Trends 2018 report that education content is ramping up fast to support “lifelong learning”. According to the report, this is crucial to ensuring an engaging, evolving work environment and is also related to tools for learning becoming more efficient.

Modern workplace demands

The workplace is more connected than ever and the workforce, more diverse as five generations come together for the first time. The office is also becoming a connected environment, with technology and access to channels from anywhere, changing how, when and where we work.

As a result of these implications, for learning to be effective in the modern workplace it must be:

  • Able to show the latest up-to-the-minute information
  • Dynamic enough to capture ongoing interest
  • Continuous, with new content regularly added
  • Suited to the modern workplace
  • Integrated with other tools employees are already using

New Ways of Learning in the Workplace Using Screens

Using digital screens to embody and create learning opportunities is one way modern workplaces are adapting and providing continual development opportunities for employees.

For some, this is ensuring employees have access to learning materials outside of their inbox. For 3M, this means providing internal updates, via digital screen in key offices around the world:

“At 3M we have lots of updates happening internally all of the time and it’s very difficult for us to conduct a meeting every time to announce something. Every 3Mer has a high workload and we want to make sure that messages from our top executives or any internal updates happening within the company are well heard and available to all of our employees.”

3M digital signage

Here are some of the ways screens can help with learning in your workplace:

1. Combining learning methods

Fleming and Mills (1992) suggested that there are four different types of learners, often combined into the “VARK” model: visual, auditory, read/write and kinaesthetic.

E-learning courses, which in some organizations have been the only method of learning, apply most heavily to the read/write type of learner. For those who are visual, kinaesthetic (experienced-based) and auditory, this method may not work.

One of the bonuses of using digital screens is that the content can vary. You might have a video, followed by a quick multiple choice quiz, mixed in with a series of graphics, or a real world case study. This makes the entire learning experience more engaging and also ensures that at least one part will resonate with each type of learner.

Playlists and scheduling also ensures different training methods can be arranged for different days or times, keeping employees engaged and regularly checking back for “what’s new” on screen.

2. Using gamification to engage employees

Gamification makes learning in the workplace more interactive and engaging. One way we do this in the ScreenCloud office is using an app called Slido. With Slido we introduce a question or quiz and employees can vote by typing a URL into their browser. Once voted, the display and results updates automatically. It’s a great way to test knowledge and have a little fun with employees.

Similarly, leaderboards that show which employee has completed the most training models, or even test scores, helps to encourage engagement and raises interest levels in training programs that the organization has already invested in.

Screens can also be used to provide learning nudges. If you saw a digital noticeboard that stated “80% of the marketing team have completed the Google Analytics module 1 training - have you?” wouldn’t that make you more inclined to hunker down and get learning?

3. Accessing employees where they already are

The trouble with most training systems is that they’re hidden in complex content management systems or company intranets. Employees need to have gumption to open the system, search for the materials and only then can the learning begin. Screens are one-to-many canvases which place learning materials where the employees already are.

For Desklodge, this means helping its coworking tenants to learn and see information during downtime, like making a cup of coffee:

“I think the most popular screens that we have are the ones above the kettle. People are stood there waiting and they're hanging around for a couple of minutes - having the screen right there engages people.

They’ll say "oh look there’s you, I didn’t know you were doing that". So people within the coworking spaces will end up meeting each other. I don’t think they’ll ever realise that it was through the screens that they met but it helps people to naturally know what’s going on without having to interrupt them.”

4. Automating learning updates

One of our biggest bugbears at ScreenCloud is having to take data and manually to turn it into materials. If you can create an integration that does this automatically, all the better.

At a basic level, this can be turning training materials into screen content using a simple (free) tool like Google Slides. When you have new material to add, or a change in information, you can update the Google Slides document and the content on screen will change.

If you’re a bit of an automation whiz, you can find a way to integrate systems you already use with the screen. This might be using Google Data Studio to connect data sources from systems like Campaign Monitor or Google Analytics and share them on screen.

5. Providing access to training videos

At trash removal services company Granger, videos are played in staff rooms in the 30-minute period at the start of the day when drivers are likely to be onsite, and able to take in information:

“Previously, our associates would only see the safety videos within a safety meeting, now we can put them up on the screens all the time. Particularly at the beginning of the day, it helps our drivers who will then leave the property to see the content. That first half an hour at the start of their day is the most important to make sure we can get any messages across.”

An employee might never reopen a training video on their laptop, but by sharing it on screen, Granger are repeatedly reinforcing that method of training with their employees.

If you’re ready to insert a new, and effective, way of learning in your workplace, digital screens in strategic positions could be the answer. Sign into your free trial at and begin uploading your training materials today.

 SC Gradient

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