S. Athavale

Tata Consultancy Services (INDIA)
Workplace Learning has evolved over a period of time, from traditional classroom training to combination of remote classroom trainings, playful workshops and eLearning platforms. While the eLearning focus is on new tools and technologies that enable scalability and accessibility of learning, as well as on building new content, the engagement with these tools is not necessarily high. We observe that there is a need to build innovative eLearning interfaces which are not just adaptive to style, aptitude or context of the learner but which bring problem solving to the front and build learning at the back.

We hypothesize that today’s workplace learners find and assimilate knowledge through multiple sources, have short attention spans and need just in time learning to solve their problems. We conducted a survey to find out how learners in IT services firm learn skills in programming, software design or project management. We also understand their learning habits, learning demands generated by workplace pressure and personal preferences.

We find that learners have the need to learn in short time spans and they expect learning to be in the context of their work and just in time. The predominant means to learn are not eLearning tools within the organization but expert discussion forums and searchable tutorials available on the internet, followed by trial and error in their projects. These observations conform to the principals of Andragogy, such as providing control to the learner or providing problem centric learning. While this learning approach may have the advantage of meeting the knowledge-application needs, it may lead to lack of conceptual clarity, lack of authenticity of knowledge and low retention.

Design Intervention:
Based on the analysis of survey data and building on the principals of Andragogy, we propose an Inverted eLearning Interface. The interface is an app which allows searching of the content from either in-house course management system or from external but authenticated sources. The interface eliminates the need to enrol and attend the courses in time bound manner etc. and promotes just in time learning. Accessed through a simple search window, the app sitting on mobile phone or desktop, is not the ‘face of learning’ but is more of a silent background worker that provides learning history to the organization and opportunity to the learners to revisit or reinforce concepts of the problems they already solved.