Toby South, product solutions consultant at Intelex and HSM Live presenter, explains the value of agile knowledge sharing through micro-learning.
Last week, during HSM Live’s Digital Conference, Intelex’s Toby South, a product solutions consultant, presented on the topic of agile learning. The topic, arguably more pertinent today than ever before, initiated some interesting discussion around how we best learn in a world of ‘information overload,’ how organisations can streamline communication and training to optimise their workforce’s retention of knowledge and how the future of information dissemination is likely to change in the future.
In this Q&A session, Toby touches upon these areas and digs a little deeper into his role of a product solutions consultant who is very used to communicating new information on a regular basis.
Zara Livingston (ZL): Can you tell us a bit about your background and what attracted you to Intelex?
Toby South (TS): I’ve worked for the last 13 years implementing software and working with blue chip clients all around the UK. Prior to joining Intelex in early 2021, I was working with companies to discover how software can support their health and safety objectives, with an emphasis on how training and knowledge sharing can deliver wider health and safety strategies through technology.
And what attracted me to Intelex? Well, I think it’s quite simple; it’s the products, the technology that Intelex uses. Intelex is market-leading within the health and safety software space. Also, our passion and objectives around stopping death in the workplace is a very noble objective and very important to me personally, working within this industry.
ZL: As a product solutions consultant, what do you enjoy most about your role?
TS: I enjoy presenting our technology to organisations to solve the data and process issues that they are having. I like showing off the Intelex platform! I think the major thing is really presenting and then solving organisations’ health and safety issues around data, about processing data and about reporting, presenting back to clients what they need and suggesting systems that they need to help put them in a better place is great.
ZL: A significant portion of your time involves presenting to audiences around the problems faced across organisations and how Intelex’s technology can respond to these challenges. Most recently you presented at the HSM Live Digital Conference. Can you talk through what you presented and why this topic is of relevance to cross-industry organisations today?
TS: Yes, I presented the topic of agile learning through micro-learning recently and what that basically means is recognising the value in sending content in brief, bite-size chunks to the workforce to bring them up to speed on any topic. It’s particularly useful for those in the health and safety space to upskill the workforce on topics such as health and safety management, risk assessments, permits to work, etc., which means workers don’t have to sit in a classroom and learn lots of content over a long period. Instead, the information can be shared with them in smaller chunks which will support their retention of that information. The important point to note here is that this communication of information is done through technology.
ZL: How has the pandemic exacerbated the requirement for agile learning across organisations?
TS: As of March 2020, the majority of the workforce had to pivot; they had to move out of the office space and move to working from home. Because they are not [interacting in person] with subject matter experts and colleagues, the knowledge and understanding of [work] processes or subjects became more challenging, which is why micro-learning became so important. It became key to making sure those topics and pieces of learning can still be accessed by the workforce so that everyone’s levels of learning are the same and so that we can train and upskill a workforce, despite not sitting together in an office.
ZL: Technology is impacting the rate at which, and way in which, we learn. If this trajectory of change continues, how do you think the way we learn will look in the next five years?
TS: So, I think we can bring this back to the presentation. I mentioned people’s attention spans have dropped and people are more focussed on micro media (ie, Facebook or any form of social media). Over the next five years, I see organisations reaching their workforce with specific content in a short, concise and bitesize way, and that will be done more on devices—on mobile, on the go—to allow people to get up to speed rather than having to be sat at the desk. A lot of it comes down to motivation: Why does an organisation want their workforce to lean? How can they learn? How can that workforce access that information quickly in a smart and accessible way? And that’s on mobile.
ZL. Can you talk through the key differences between macro learning and micro learning?
TS: Macro-learning is classroom-based and micro-learning is quick, bite-size learning. Macro is the bedrock of learning, but micro is short snippets of content to get a user ‘up to speed’ quickly and which they can then build on. Macro-learning tends to have an exam or a ‘drop off’ point of information whilst micro-learning is a consistent roll out to keep the retention and keep information ‘sticky’ to the workforce—keeping it front of mind. The pandemic, with the rollout of new information associated with processes, etc., has meant micro-learning has been used more than ever before and the dispersed workforce makes it even more important.
ZL:. If an individual or organisation was interested in learning more around how agile learning could positively impact their workforce and organisation, what advice would you give them?
TS: There’s a lot of information about how micro-learning can be harnessed differently by different organisations. What I would suggest is using short content on a specific example—eg., recording incidents or permits to work off site—send the small pieces of content out to the workforce to read and then look at your ROI. Test a couple of topics, roll these out and then to gather the return of investment, look at the number of reported incidents or permits to work, for example. Have they increased? If they have gone up since communicating that topic, build out additional knowledge roll outs to help workers maintain retention of those subjects. Just try small first and then roll out.