5 Ways to Incorporate Active Learning as You Upskill Your Workforce

    Active learning is more effective than passive approaches. Here’s how to apply active learning strategies, including the use of digital badges to future-proof your workforce. 

    user-circle Credly Team
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    Employees discussing their learning opportunities and outcomes

    In today's fast-evolving job market, the need for upskilling and reskilling has become paramount for organizations striving to stay ahead of the curve. With over a billion individuals projected to require reskilling by 2030, it's evident that traditional learning methods might need an upgrade. Active learning, which places learners at the center of the educational process, has emerged as a powerful strategy for fostering continuous development and engagement within the workforce.

    Upskilling and Reskilling via Active Learning

    As the global economy shifts towards lifelong learning models, organizations must recognize the importance of upskilling and reskilling their workforce. This proactive approach not only ensures that employees remain competitive in their roles but also equips them with the agility to adapt to emerging trends and technologies. Key drivers for upskilling initiatives include the need to fill skill gaps, improve employee retention, and enhance overall organizational performance.

    Traditional learning relied heavily on lectures, seminars, and presentations. Those techniques place ownership and responsibility for learning on an instructor — not on the people who need to develop new skills. Active learning is a variety of learning strategies, often experiential and collaborative in nature, that make it easier for people to translate what they are learning into improved on-the-job performance.

    Workers of all ages are looking for active learning opportunities. Surveys of a multi-generational workforce have found that 87% of them considered the opportunity to learn from each other a positive way to build their experience. 

    When you facilitate active learning opportunities, you make it more likely you’ll retain the talent you already have and attract the talent you need.

    "More than 3-in-4 employed workers expect to continue learning and training opportunities throughout their entire career."

    Providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities to your workforce signals to them that your company is invested in them and cares about their success. Workers who feel valued are more motivated, and the employees likeliest to stay the longest are the ones who have been invested in the most

    A culture of continuous learning appeals to talent of all ages. Growth opportunities at work ranked the second highest priority for millennial (46%) and Gen X (42%) workers. According to our own data, 92% of workers expect maintained learning and development opportunities, making it even more critical when attracting and keeping talent. 

    Why Active Learning over Passive Learning

    The “learning loop” is a sequence of processes that help people learn new information and skills. They learn, apply, receive feedback, and then reflect. But passive learning doesn’t engage that learning loop as well. As a result of the “forgetting curve”, about 50% of new information is lost in the first hour and 70% after the first 24 hours. 

    Incorporating review and repetition – going through the learning loop more than once – improves retention.

    Active learning, which places learners and their actions at the center of the learning process, more effectively engages the learning loop by requiring people to apply their learning, have opportunities for feedback, and then reflect on the learning.

    Here are five strategies for incorporating active learning in your upskilling and re-skilling initiative:

    1. Focus on Competence Over Confidence 

      Studies show that while passive learners feel more confident, their abilities to perform are lower than their peers who engaged in active learning. In comparison, active learners will often feel less prepared. However, once given the opportunity to apply their learning in a real-world situation, they perform better than they expect. That improved performance creates excitement and enthusiasm for more learning, sparking a positive upward spiral.

    2. Try Role Reversal

      The ultimate test of understanding is the ability to teach it to someone else. So, provide your employees with opportunities to step into teacher and trainer roles. This can include asking more experienced employees to supervise new employee training, asking people to host brown bag lunches, or other informal sessions to share what they know.

      Asking your employees to function as teachers has other benefits. It saves you money since you don’t have to hire outside subject matter experts or professional trainers. It also reinforces to workers who are asked to teach that they and their skills are valuable. That’s likely to increase their engagement, loyalty, and motivation.

    3. Nurture Group Interaction

      Small group settings give people the chance to learn and practice new skills in a setting that’s more like their actual work environment. That makes it easier for them to apply new skills when they return to the job after training sessions.

      Group interactions can also build and deepen relationships between employees, which increases engagement. And if carefully facilitated, group interactions can increase the all-important sense of psychological safety, a top factor for worker engagement, performance, and productivity.


    4. Encourage Reflection

      Learning activities that encourage brainstorming, doodling, and written reflections often increase retention while decreasing learner fatigue and boredom. Focused reflection time should also encourage self-assessments. 

      Self-assessments encourage learners to think critically about what they’re learning, how they’re learning, and how effectively they’re learning. This kind of assessment and review helps people better understand the material. It also helps them better understand how they learn, a critical competency for a time when job roles are changing rapidly and a larger percentage of skills used now won’t be needed in a few years.

    5. Reward Active Learners 

      Make sure you incentivize and reward active participation in learning initiatives through the use of digital credentials. These digital badges or certificates serve as tangible symbols of achievement, validating the skills and competencies acquired by employees through their active engagement in training programs and educational activities.

      Organizations can establish clear criteria for what constitutes active learning and track employee participation using learning management systems or digital platforms. Employees who demonstrate high levels of engagement, completion rates, and contributions to learning initiatives can be awarded digital badges. 

      By providing descriptive metadata and enabling badge sharing across digital platforms, organizations can ensure that employees can showcase their achievements both internally and externally. Publicly celebrating the accomplishments of active learners and incorporating digital badges into performance reviews further reinforces the value of continuous learning within the organization. 

      And when employees are acknowledged, they become more engaged, resulting in a decreased turnover rate.

    Get Started

    Incorporating active learning strategies into upskilling initiatives is essential for ensuring the long-term success and competitiveness of organizations in today's dynamic business landscape. By empowering employees to take ownership of their learning journey and fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, organizations can build agile and resilient teams capable of thriving amidst constant change.

    As the demand for continuous learning continues to grow, embracing active learning is not just a choice but a necessity for future-proofing your workforce and driving organizational success. To discover more upskilling and reskilling strategies and best practices, complete the form to download our whitepaper 'Strategies for Overcoming the Challenges in Employee Upskilling and Reskilling' below. 

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