• As working from home becomes the norm, it's a good opportunity to re-evaluate how we connect digitally.
  • A tech-driven approach can miss the nuances of human contact.
  • Here are 5 suggestions for creating a richer and improved online experience for workplaces and classrooms.

As working from home becomes the new normal, and everyone is scrambling to find virtual solutions such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams, it’s a great time to pause for a moment to ask ourselves:

Who are we designing these meetings for? What is the purpose of the interaction? And what are the various technologies and platforms that can help us best achieve that purpose?

It’s time to redefine digital. There is a tremendous opportunity here to take a human-centered approach to designing impactful experiences versus taking a reactive approach, grabbing whatever solutions are available and stitching them together.

As meetings, conferences, events, classes and workshops are cancelled, it’s time to take a step back and reflect on some fundamental questions. For example: if we are designing for a cancelled training class, what was the purpose of that class? It’s likely to be a combination of learning new things, connecting with like-minded individuals, and sharing knowledge in a sustainable, referenceable way. So given this purpose, how can we design a virtual experience that may best fit these objectives in a human-centered way? What technologies were designed to promote learning new things, connecting and sharing in a more sustainable way? Which technologies were designed based on the science of learning, and which help develop 21st Century skills?

When we take a tech-driven approach, we often miss the subtle nuances of the powerful human experience. Take video conferencing, which is now a critical part of our daily work. The purpose of video conferencing is to chat and meet virtually. It wasn’t designed for structured, sequential learning experiences, as learning requires reflection, application and sharing. You can’t connect with people on the conference call or webinar after the webinar or even keep track of the conversations when the call is over. Video conferencing is useful for having virtual conversations at a predetermined time in a synchronous way. It’s not ideally designed for asynchronous communications; for example, watching 60-minute recorded webinars is not usually enjoyable or interactive.

So what is required to connect the dots that will enable participants to have an integrated experience - both synchronous and asynchronous - that better aligns with how humans naturally engage and connect with each other? Here are five tips for redefining the way we use digital in a socially connected way.

1. Connect the various experiences together in an integrated experience and try to minimize people jumping from platform to platform. For example, at Gnowbe, we are helping connect webinars to virtual events to online courses to virtual workshops, all on one integrated platform so that the individual’s experience is digitized, captured in one place and easily referenceable in the future.

2. Encourage relationship-building and connecting with fellow learners by embedding conversations within the context of the content and encouraging sharing and dialogue. Social connections are critical now more than ever with physical separation.

3. Create an inclusive environment in which everyone can participate. The power of tech is that if used properly, you can invite all to share their views digitally in ways that you can’t even do face-to-face given limited time.

4. Design content in agile ways. It may not be perfect the first time. Allow room for rapid creation and iteration. Find authoring tools that are easy to use and flexible. In order to make it even easier to author content, we launched a mobile, authoring tool to complement web-based authoring which now enables anyone to curate on-the-go.

5. Track, measure and refine. Keep track of the engagement and experiences of the individuals to further refine the content in agile ways.

With greater physical distancing, digital has now become a critical tool to enable social connections. Crisis creates opportunities to innovate. Before we jump to react, let’s take this opportunity to redefine digital using a more human-centered approach. Humanity calls for it.

During this time, we are offering anyone use of Gnowbe’s microlearning platform to amplify, track and measure COVID-related training and content to keep everyone safe. We have also launched free programs on infection prevention and business continuity planning in multiple languages. Please feel free to contact me personally at skang@gnowbe.com if we can be of service and help during this time.