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How Slack can unlock learning in the flow of work

June 18, 2019

We’ve talked a lot about learning in the flow of work recently. And it’s not just us talking about it. Given the hype from some vendors, though, you’d be forgiven for imagining you’ll soon be downloading whole chapters of knowledge directly to your brain, Matrix-style, through your video-rich microlearning IoT toaster.

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But there is a reason we’re talking about it so much. Many reasons, in fact. None of us have time to do the learning we want, and when we finally do sit down to do some, a 2-hour elearning course is dumped on our digital lap. ‘Learning on the job’ turns into ‘scouring an antiquated LMS for so long you give up and Google it, then forget what you even needed it for’ - anything but in the flow of work.

That’s why it’s so critical that we give our people the chance to learn as and when they need to, and in the organisational systems where they spend their time. We need to bring the learning to the learners in a way that’s convenient and compelling. One that rivals their experiences as a consumer.

And when they’re at work, where are learners spending most of their time? Unsurprisingly, it’s not in those awkward ‘designated collaboration spaces’ and intranets, the equivalent of throwing several strangers a case of beer and ordering them to party (except even less fun).

There are two key players storming the market that facilitate real collaborative work, work that actually depends on employees using them. One, Microsoft Teams, we’ve covered extensively. The other, used by 10 million users and 85,000 clients, is Slack.

Just in case you aren’t one of those users, Slack is a communications tool that allows users to chat, share files and perform other more advanced functions and automations, all of which foster digital collaboration. It’s successful because it provides a slick UI and a smooth UX that actually make things easier - the tool email was told not to worry about.

Slack’s tagline is Slack is ‘where work happens’. In its  own words, Slack describes itself as ‘where work flows’. ‘It's where the people you need, the information you share, and the tools you use come together to get things done.’ Sounds perfect for learning in the flow of work, does it not?

Well, learning and development teams have a chance here to step up and deliver on a platform that their own employees actually like. Where better to drive engagement and a real return for the business? But delivering learning in the flow of work through Slack requires a bit of finesse.

Thankfully, our prescient product team is on the case, working on the flow of learning with a magpie-Slack integration. We already provide learners with just what they need to learn - kind recommendations. And our Teams and Slack integrations will provide them just where they’re needed.

magpie for Slack will allow users to request an instant recommendation in the skill currently ranked most important to them from within chat. Got 5 minutes between meetings? Waiting for someone to review that doc you just Slacked them? Hit up magpie for a quick learning gem of what’s most valuable to you.

But it won’t just be limited to simply requesting a single recommendation. Users will also be able to request a recommendation for a specific skill. Imagine you’ve just received a message from your report checking you’re still available for your one-to-one later. Why not request a people management recommendation to get yourself in the zone?

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There’s much more to it than just picking a piece of content from a category, though. This integration will harness the power of magpie’s algorithmic recommendation engine, which provides each and every learner with personalized recommendations specific to them. It does so by assigning complex skills signatures to both learner and content then matching them based upon relevance and quality. Learners are served what’s best for them, not just what the system sees as the best piece of content, avoiding the pitfalls of common one-way recommendation tools.

These two-way recommendations are far more effective than more traditional prescriptive curation. No learner is identical, and our learning should reflect that. Algorithmic matching enables scalable personalization and this Slack integration marks another way to bring it into the flow of work.

Adding further value is the way magpie searches through your organisation’s existing library of learning assets and surfaces the best of them, revitalising your learning library and getting more value from it (or in some cases revealing what’s not working at all!). Those recommendations will then get served through Slack, effectively meaning that all of your (useful) learning content will become available to your learners in the flow of work.

Learner feedback will also be integrated into the chat flow so that Slack contributes to the valuable analytics data magpie gathers for its nest of reporting tools. That data enables you to make more informed decisions about your content based on how it’s being used and what learners think about it. And you may find that’s very different from what you think about it.

Some of the insights this data generates can be very revealing. That expensive content library that you thought was borderline essential? It could actually be barely used and the assets often marked low quality by users. But the webinar series from this cheaper library? Huge usage and engagement. These actionable insights let you know where and how to direct your budget.

One thing’s for sure, digital collaboration tools won’t be going anywhere, especially now that they have buy-in from users, not just organisations. Learning and development departments, in some cases already at risk of being seen as an anachronistic tagalong, can ill afford to be caught slacking on this one.


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