Interview with Antonio Palacios, Learning Experience Manager at Digital Skills Global.
What is a Learning Experience Manager?
A Learning Experience Manager is the convergence of two different roles that exist right now, one in the field of software or design, which is that of the user experience person or usability person, and the other one comes from the learning side and it's the instructional designer. And so, when you merge those two together, you're thinking about a broader learning experience that is not confined to, say, the learning management system or the e-learning software that we use, but goes before and after that.
The role looks at learning in general; what is the e-learning experience, what I do afterwards, the activities, how I interact with other participants, social learning, technologies, activities, workshops and other tasks that you have to perform as part of the learning experience.
Why is it Necessary to Have Learning Experience as a Field of Speciality?
We're moving very fast. If you think about the time when the first MOOC, the massive open online course was published, it was only in 2008. So, thinking about age, the age of e-learning as a technology and as a way of imparting learning is in its infancy. So at the moment, what's happening is that we still have some roles that are legacy roles in that they look at the software side or at the learning side, but there are very few hybrid roles or roles are bridging the technology with the learning or the technology with many other fields, like data mining and so on.
What is the Role of Learning in Organisational Change and Digital Transformation?
I believe learning is the catalyst. There are some great examples of this and I feel privileged in that I've experienced and been an actor in some of these changes where learning was the catalyst. The one that I could mention happened at Microsoft, and it was about instilling a much more stronger sense of user design-driven engineering within Microsoft.
If you think about that change, it's a huge change. It was essentially expecting that every engineer thought differently about how they worked. The product specifications, the development of the software, the testing of the software, everything. And the way it was coordinated was top-down. There was very deliberate messaging, there were the right tools and resources put in place, there were clear consequences for doing and not doing what was expected of them. The catalyst for change was the workshop. The workshop was attended by everyone, including the executives within that organization. The whole organization was brought into it.
They said, “Yes, this is what we're going to do.” Proof of that was that the executive was one of the participants at the workshop. And it was beautiful to see how, right after the workshop, the teams would start producing new artefacts that were evidence that the change was already happening. So, all the different levers for change were used, but learning was definitely the one catalyst that made change happen, that made it real for the individuals in the organization.
How do Evangelists Play a Role?
Perhaps I should start by clarifying what we mean by evangelist or, in this conversation, what we're meaning about evangelist. Because if you go to sales and marketing departments, you're going to see people who carry the job title of evangelist. And I'm not talking about them, I'm talking about people who are passionate about something.
It could be a technology, it could be a new way of doing things, and they're very vocal and they will be willing to reach out to colleagues and tell them, “This is how I'm doing things. This is very exciting because there's a new way and it's a better way of doing things.” As a manager, as a line manager, as an executive, as someone who's trying to drive change, you really need to know these evangelists and be able to identify, scan the organization and identify these evangelists. And this is what I mean by an evangelist. Because they are going to be one of your best allies in driving digital transformation.
How Does Digital Skills Global Use Learning to Drive Change and Develop Evangelists?
So, Digital Skills Global can help by providing a program that is comprehensive. It's truly an immersive experience in digital skills. It's very valuable in that it's going to give any employee who's probably feeling a bit siloed by the confines of their own organization a platform to innovate and gain unique exposure to new ways of thinking and working.
Digital Skills Global will provide the ability to get that exposure to other industries, to other ways of doing things. And it's part of the creative process when you're able to see parallels, and bring them on board and see how they can work in your own environment. It's about internalizing what's happening outside. So, part of the program at Digital Skills Global is about that. It's about exposure.
It's about meeting other participants, international participants, learning from them and then learning a wealth of knowledge, digital knowledge, about how things can be done differently, in an agile manner, in a creative manner, in a user-friendly manner. Participants gain part of this unique experience through the Agile UX Digital Project Course on our Professional Certificate Program.
As I mentioned before, even if it's not used as part of a broader change drive, evangelists, or someone who goes through the program and likes and loves the program…and frankly, I think that anyone who is going to go through the program is going to love it. And there's a little bit for everyone, marketers, business analysts, project managers, designers, coders, product managers to name a few. There are many aspects that they will probably love. They can go back to the organization and become evangelists.
They will probably be able to find and distil the right things for the program that are going to work in the organization because they know the organization well. And by that logic, you could say that if you, as an executive, have identified a number of evangelists within your organization who are enthusiastic about digital and making the organization more digital, they will probably be excellent candidates to sign up for Digital Skills Global programs because that will definitely empower them with the right tools, knowledge and connections to be great ambassadors of digital and evangelists within the organization.
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