Interview With Infobip

Time to Learn

Q&A with Mario Buljan from eWyse

Interviewed By Tina Lee Odinsky-Zec from Infobip

Q: How can learners and educators adapt faster to work and school from home? What are some tips and tricks you can suggest?

A: This is an interesting question – and not one we get asked too many times by our clients! These are some ideas that work for me:

Dedicate a space just for learning

I think what works best for the learner or educator is a personal choice & reflection of their preferences. Something that is clear, however, is that creating a dedicated space for learning is vital in priming the mind for the activities that follow.

And this means keeping distractions to a minimum – so make sure that your mobile phones, emails, and other notifications are kept out of sight, at least for a committed period of time for learning. This is tough but vital. In this way, your tools of distraction become the rewards that you give yourself after completing your own learning milestones (see below).

Your place of learning should not be your place for working, eating, sleeping, or anything else. This is all about you associating that place with learning and just that. With this mental congruence,  you’ll be able to just focus on that one activity and nothing else (yes, those dishes do need to be washed, but not now!).”

Plan in advance

As well as having a space that is dedicated just for learning, I would also say that the other key to adapting faster and getting better results from home-based learning is to set learning goals in advance.

A great way to do this is to spend five or ten minutes in the evening planning your activities for the next day.

List and prioritise what needs to be done first. It always amazes me that more people don’t do this. I know when I have even one or two clear goals set for the next day, I can relax knowing I have that plan in place. Also, I’m letting my brain work on potential solutions in the background as I sleep, so I wake up feeling that I can head into my session full of inspiration and energy!

Know yourself

It’s always amazing to me how much advice is out there, for every subject, including this one! So, by all means, read this advice, but also test it out!

Every person is different and knowing what particular environment or schedule works for you is often a case of trial and error. For example, I am most productive first thing in the morning, where I know certain colleagues of mine only start firing on all cylinders after midday.

If you’re like me and you have more energy earlier in the day, use this time to tackle those subjects that are hardest to grasp. Then relax knowing that you’ve eaten your proverbial frog for the day and can now focus on the more straight-forward subject matter.

Reward yourself

Which brings me nicely onto my final tip – using rewards as part of your learning.

If you’ve set up your learning environment and planned your learning tasks ahead, now it’s time to set yourself a workable schedule.

By breaking up your learning into manageable, bite-size (micro-learning) chunks, you will be able to schedule in some incentives to help you get through the session.

I find that after about 30-40 minutes, my attention begins to waver. So I try to schedule a 5 or 10-minute break after that period of time. This allows me to stretch, take a quick walk, make coffee or even read my emails. Setting a timer for the start and end of these breaks is vital to ensure that you adhere to the rules.

Q: What are some best practices in Learning Management Systems today that embrace the whole employee for developing them personally and professionally?

A: With so many Learning Management Systems (LMS’s) on the market and the technology improving all the time, it’s hard to know which components are must-haves and which serve purely as a novelty.

Here at eWyse, we focus on producing world-class eLearning content for our clients. All of our content aims to improve the learner’s experience, but all this means nothing if you’re restrained by the functionality of your LMS.

These are some of the features and practices that we always encourage our clients to look out for when choosing a new LMS or maximising the use of their existing platform:

It has to be social

Recent global events have brought a halt to any and all group social interactions. Ironically, I feel that this is something that can actually push the capabilities of LMS’s increasingly in the direction of embracing online social interaction to help improve the learners’ experiences.

This style of informal learning is hugely beneficial for the learners (as well as educators) as it encourages the discussion and therefore practical use of new knowledge. This makes learning more fun and effective.

The use of video conferencing is something that is now built into certain LMS’s can be a huge incentive for strengthening the learning community, increasing learning time and enhancing the stickiness of the LMS.

Online Mentoring

The increase of online social learning can also improve the chances of building connections and roles within the learning community.  This informal hierarchy can be a huge boost for new learners or for educators wishing to enhance their training away from the more formal teaching environment.

A good LMS could lay the ground for an informal type of mentorship to flourish, with more experienced learners or educators taking newbies under their wings and improving the learning experience for all.

The LMS as a Blended-Learning platform

I’m always reading about the Flipped classroom and how this way of reversing the learning experience can help learners.

Allowing employees to learn at home, by using the LMS as a platform for online training is now becoming something that is accepted in the workplace. In this way, learners are able to integrate all of the advantages of informal social learning with the required learning syllabus, which I think is great for improving the learning outcomes.  Time spent learning on-site is then limited to course application, workshopping or trainer discussions to help evaluate ideas and practise theory in a live setting.

The other really big benefit is the amount of time and money any employer would save by switching to this method of training. There would be far less emphasis on taking senior employees out of their core activities, to spend time training junior staff, for example. This reduced need for face-to-face training would also save employers about 75% of the costs by having the majority of the training conducted online.

Q: How do you envision offline and online learning models transforming the future of education personally and professionally?

A: This is something that I touched on earlier in response to the last question. As an eLearning agency, our mission is to produce bespoke content for our clients that’s super-effective. So one thing that we are constantly doing is reviewing what actually works and what doesn’t. Here are some of the trends that I see are transforming education:

Flipped classroom

The offline and online learning models as two areas that are becoming more and more intertwined. This is something that is happening as a natural evolution, with the increasing reliance on social learning, Flipped classroom or Blended Learning.

Training courses are now being developed that put the emphasis on eLearning as the foundation of knowledge transfer, with Instructor-led, offline training serving as a way to utilise the knowledge through role-play or discussion.

Gamification of eLearning courses could evolve across to a broader social community, with competition setting the tone for a more fun, inclusive and interactive learning environment.

Access to training 24/7

We all know how important our mobile phones are to us and how much we rely on them with almost every waking hour.

I believe that in-line with the Flipped classroom, there is and will continue to be more of a dependence on mobile learning as a foundation for training and development. This is also partly because of the flexibility that allows courses to be accessed at a time and setting that suits the learner.

This 24/7 access to knowledge will also throw a spotlight on the terms that we use. I believe that the word ‘learning’ and perhaps some of its not-so-positive associations, will be being replaced with the word ‘development,’ which is indicative of a much more self-empowered,  learner-orientated (ironically) method of knowledge transfer. Access to effective personal or professional development will be easier, faster and more instantly accessible than ever before.

High quality of eLearning production will be a foundational need

For future education to be effective, I believe that the quality of online training courses needs to be constantly improved.

This improvement will lead to more effective, fun and engaging materials that will motivate the learners to spend more time engaged in the subject-matter. They will also be able to retain and use the learning material more effectively to help develop themselves in their careers or personal lives.

The ways in which we improve the quality and effectiveness of the courses that we produce is by applying a range of tools that might include, 360-degree video, gamification, virtual reality, animation or branching scenarios, among many others.

This variety of content keeps the learner engaged and means that they will be far more motivated and prepared when it comes to taking the knowledge to the offline training environment or into the workplace itself.